It's that time of year again. As you pack away holiday decorations and New Year's noisemakers, the feeling of a new beginning creeps into your mind. Forget about last year's "If I had only..." and jump start yourself with a more direct approach in the New Year.
For millions of us, it's time to make a resolution that we'll get in shape with a renewed focus on our health and fitness programs.
According to research conducted at the University of Scranton, nearly half of all adults will make some type of New Year's resolution.
The top three resolutions are to stop smoking, to lose weight and to exercise regularly.
Unfortunately, the same research study also indicates that 25 percent of all resolutions will be abandoned after only one week, and another 10 percent dropped after the first month.
To avoid this dropout rate and make your New Year's fitness resolutions actually stick, follow these tips:
1. Change your sweat-itude.
Adopt a new attitude for this year's resolution to get fit. Instead of forcing yourself to log endless hours on the treadmill, decide that you will only participate in fitness activities that you actually enjoy, such as dance fitness, ice skating, martial arts or brisk walks with the dog.
Take the question out of your day by saying, "I am working out at 5:30," instead of ... "Should I work out today?" Before you know it, exercise will be part of your lifestyle; you'll end up thinking about exercise less and doing it more.
2. Set a realistic goal.
Many of us abandon our New Year's resolutions because we've set ourselves up to fail. If you want to keep your goal, it needs to be realistic.
Think about what you can actually do this year. If you've never jogged more than a mile, it's unlikely that you'll run a marathon in April.
Set short-term, small goals, track your progress and save the marathon for another year.
3. Plan for success.
Pull out your daily planner. Select what fitness classes/programs you will attend during the next few weeks, and schedule these classes on your calendar.
Consider these appointments as important as lunch with your boss or the annual check-up with your dentist. In other words, don't cancel your fitness appointments.
Take the direct approach and pack your gym bag the night before and eliminate the trip home from work and the distraction of the household.
4. Enlist help.
Tell your friends, family, and co-workers about your resolution. Ask them to hold you accountable and to help you meet your goal.
A spouse can prepare a healthy meal once a week while you exercise. You can return a similar favor, making a winning combination.
If you have a birthday or anniversary approaching, ask for a pass to the gym or fitness class. You will be energized and have more to give back to your friends and family.
5. Reward yourself.
It's important to recognize your achievements, even if they appear small. Establish some rewards for sticking to your fitness regimen. After one week of success, book a manicure or pedicure. After the first full month, splurge on a new handbag. If weight loss is a priority, these non-food rewards will reinforce your achievements without sabotaging your goals.
And if you fall off the wagon, don't punish yourself! Get back up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.
By making the effort to manage your time and incorporating fitness into your daily activities, you'll develop a balanced life style.
Take the direct approach to a healthy 2011 by eating well, getting enough sleep, keeping a positive attitude and moving your body daily. You will find yourself much more vital and energetic this year and into the future.