The new year invites us to reflect and set new intentions for what we want and hope the future will bring.
So many people see the new year as a way to reinvent themselves and validating that by saying, “New year, new me.” This immediately sets the precedent that you’re not good enough as-is, so if you don’t reach your end goal, you’re likely to be pretty disappointed with yourself.
Setting a resolution is not about fixing yourself because there is nothing wrong with you. Instead, your goals should challenge your limits to see what’s possible for you to achieve—approaching health and fitness in a way that’s kind to your body and mind.
To fully experience and enjoy life, we must take care of the only body we were given, so experiment with the way you diet and exercise. If you make your resolutions following these three steps, you’re much more likely to find success on your wellness journey.
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1. Create SMART goals.
“I’m going to exercise more and eat healthier.” How often have you heard someone (or yourself) make a New Year’s resolution that sounds similar to this?
How can you measure your progress? Making a health and fitness goal like this doesn’t work because it’s too vague.; however, this gives us a great baseline to create a SMART goal.
SMART is an acronym for:
So, how can we make eating healthier and exercising more SMART? Let’s take a look.
Starting a healthy diet with SMART goals
First, I’d like to start off by saying “diet” shouldn’t be a bad word or be synonymous with “temporary.” We want to be able to maintain this lifestyle long after it becomes a simple New Year’s resolution. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never change your eating habits after you start making more health-conscious decisions. Instead, you’ll find you’ll continue to refine what healthy eating looks like to you based on knowledge and experience.
Examples of SMART dieting goals:
- Eat one plant-based meal every day
- Bring your lunch to work Monday-Friday
- Pack two healthy snacks each day
Creating these objectives doesn’t mean you’re never allowed to treat yourself. In fact, it’s important to give yourself some freedom to come back to the sweets and fried foods that you love in moderation, especially when you start to modify your diet.
Creating a workout schedule with SMART goals
It’s important to define your exercise goal. “Go to the gym three times a week” is measurable, but it needs to be more specific.
Like eating healthy, creating a routine for regular exercise is something that you must be able to maintain long-term. If it’s in your budget, join a gym or fitness studio that offers group classes to get you started. You don’t need a fancy gym membership to live a more active lifestyle though. It’s not healthy for your wallet to pay for a membership that you can’t afford or won’t use.
Examples of SMART workout goals:
- Walk 10,000 steps every day
- Jog for 30 minutes four times each week
- Take a group fitness class three times each week
Exercising looks very different across the board. What is a strenuous workout for one person may be another person’s warm up. Listen to your body, try new activities to keep yourself interested, and give yourself full days of rest when necessary.
2. Make sure you’re going to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
It’s great to visualize where you’ll be at the end of the year after sticking to your resolution, but that shouldn’t consume this journey you’re about to embark on. Getting into the fitness level that you desire takes time and dedication. Are you going to enjoy the adventure to get there, or are you daydreaming about what you hope your end results will look like?
Even if you get to the end result that you desire, you’ll always have to put in effort to maintain the habits that got you there. This is why enjoying the journey is so important to short-term and long-term success. In the short-term, you’ll need to create challenges for yourself that are attainable and relevant at this point in your wellness journey so you can measure your progress. Otherwise, you’re more likely to burn yourself out in the process and quit altogether. Ultimately, this will help you develop habits along the way that you can actually stick with.
What does it mean to enjoy the journey as well as the destination?
Do: Make it fun.
Exercising doesn’t have to be something you dread if you choose activities that you like to do. If your New Year’s resolution involves being more active, consider creating goals like these to keep it more fun:
- Try a new activity or sport once a month.
- Sign up for a new member special at a yoga studio, gym, or other fitness studios in your area each month.
I live in a neighborhood with a high-volume of yoga studios. Last year, I planned on signing up for one new yoga studio every month to get a good deal and a good workout. In the end, I fell in love with the second yoga studio I tried and ended up becoming a member. Exciting changes happen when you try new things!
If your New Year’s resolution involves eating healthier, think of ways you can both enjoy the food and the experience. Healthy meals don’t have to be bland, and you can have more fun if you try new recipes. Some examples are:
- Cook dinner with a friend or family member once each week.
- Try making one new recipe every month.
Don’t: Rely on other people.
I understand why you’d want to share this journey with someone. If you’re doing this wellness journey with a friend, that’s great, but don’t let that be the only reason why your wellness goals are manageable.
If your wellness buddy gets sick, injured, or simply wants to drop out, that’s not an excuse for you to do the same. If the only reason you’re going to that 5 a.m. spin class is because your friend is waiting for you, that type of workout or workout time isn’t relevant for your journey. Find another way to get yourself motivated—specifically one that puts you in charge of your own wellness journey.
Do: Challenge yourself.
A final note about your wellness journey vs. the destination: there really is no destination. As you learn and try new things, your path to health and fitness is going to change.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t challenge yourself. Being healthy and fit doesn’t mean you’re always going to want to do what will make you healthy and fit. (Unfortunately, there will be times when you have to sacrifice not eating office snacks for the greater good.)
That also means that you can give yourself a break sometimes and indulge. Balance is key, so find a way to show yourself some love while you figure out your needs and interests.
3. Write it down or tell someone about your resolution.
You’re more likely to hold yourself accountable if you put your resolution out into the universe in some way. Whether you want to write in a personal journal, tell your best friend, or Instagram it, find a way to keep yourself on track.
Caution: This goes back to #2’s “Don’t rely on other people.” If you’re planning on Instagramming your progress, that’s great. Someone else may find your story inspirational, but don’t let Likes be the source of your fire about your fitness goals.
By making your health and fitness resolution known, you’re committing to the journey. Be okay with the idea that you might fall off the wagon and know that you’ll get back into it. If you tell someone, they can be your cheerleader and help you keep your word.
Bonus tip! Sign up for the 2019 Wellness Challenge.
Stay motivated throughout the year with the 2019 Wellness Challenge. It’s a monthly wellness newsletter sent directly to your inbox.
Each month, you’ll get:
- An exclusive 30-minute yoga class
- Plant-based recipe
- Article about sustainable healthy eating and/or exercising
- Monthly wellness challenge