At the beginning of every year I make a resolution to exercise more — but I'm never successful. Any tips for helping this year's resolution stick?
Many people start the new year with a resolution to exercise more, lose weight or improve their health — but not many follow through.
When January hits, they tend to get overwhelmed with the responsibilities of everyday life, and their exercise plans get put on the back burner.
So plan those exercise resolutions during the holidays. Doing so will improve your chances of success.
Here are some tips:
* Buy your gear. What do you need to get back into exercise? New workout shoes or clothes? Maybe a set of dumbbells, workout videos or a yoga mat? Make a list and carry it with you, so you can pick up these items while holiday shopping. If your family and friends exchange gifts during the holidays, put a few of these workout items on your gift list. When Jan. 1 rolls around, you'll have everything you need to get started without delay.
* Set your goals. Start by making a list of your yearly exercise goals, and then break them into smaller, easier-to-achieve quarterly goals. For example, commit to running once a week in the first quarter, but increase your runs to four times a week by the fourth quarter. Or commit to trying a new exercise or activity each quarter. You could take a kickboxing class once a week in the first quarter, then switch to a yoga class once a week in the second quarter and so on.
Having these goals already set when the new year rolls around makes it easier to get started and stay committed. And if you get off-track during the year, you'll know where to restart.
* Secure a workout buddy. Spend some time during the holidays talking with friends about your exercise goals, and see if one of them will commit to exercising with you in the coming year. It isn't necessary to do all your workouts together, but doing at least one workout a week with a buddy will help you both stay motivated.
* Share your goals. Tell your intentions to trusted family, friends and co-workers. Explain your yearly and quarterly goals and tell them about your exercise buddy. Ask them to check in with you throughout the year on your progress. This will increase your accountability and adherence, and it may encourage those close to you to increase their activity level too.
If others know what you're trying to achieve, you'll be less likely to drop your program.
* Enjoy the holidays, but get psyched up! The end of the year is full of family gatherings, vacations, celebrating and snacking. You can enjoy everything the season has to offer and still get motivated about the new year and your exercise plans. Slowly begin making changes in your daily and weekly schedule to accommodate your new exercise intentions in the coming year. The last month of the year is a perfect time to mentally prepare yourself and establish a positive attitude about reaching your goals.
Jay Blahnik, a Laguna Beach-based personal trainer and IDEA Health & Fitness Assn. spokesman, has appeared in more than 25 videos and is the author of "Full-Body Flexibility." He can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].