5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Health New Year’s Resolutions

So you’ve set lofty fitness goals for 2023 and now, with your initial burst of motivation gone, you’re finding it harder and harder to get to the gym. Maybe you had a good start to the year, but a bump in the road ruined your plans and you couldn’t find the inspiration to pick up where you left off.

Bring what?

According to yoga instructor Namaste Fit and bodybuilder Tara Elisabeth Stewart, relying solely on motivation to carry you through the year is a recipe for disaster. “Motivation is very fleeting,” says Stewart. “Real discipline will get you where you want to be.”

If you’re finding it difficult to reach your fitness goals this year, you’re not alone. A survey from Sundryed found that 95% of New Year’s goals are fitness related, and 43% of people expect to give up on those goals by February. If you don’t want to fall into that category this year, make sure you don’t inadvertently undermine yourself.

5 sneaky ways you could be sabotaging your fitness determination

1. You set unrealistic goals

A vague New Year’s resolution (e.g., “walk more”) can be difficult to implement because it lacks clear parameters. Specific milestones can be motivating, and without them, you won’t have much to look forward to.

Stewart suggests making your New Year resolutions SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. “You have to be clear about what your goal is, why you want to achieve it, and have to measure it so you can track and see your progress,” she says.

“But don’t make it so overwhelming that you can’t do anything about it,” she adds, “because then you’ll freeze.” A solution that is too difficult can leave you feeling overwhelmed. If you’ve never run a mile straight in your life, try setting a goal to finish the 5km by the end of the year, not a marathon.

“In the new year, people are really excited and that’s the energy I want to see,” said Megan McWilliams, a certified adjusted fitness professional through NASM. “But when we get excited, we can set up [a goal] it’s too big, and then get mad at ourselves for not being able to make it happen. I would rather see the slow and steady, everyday things that bring you joy, to achieve your goals.

If you think your resolution needs a little tweaking, it’s not too late to make one. Backing away from your original ambition isn’t a failure—it’s a smart way to actually prepare for success.

2. Do you have the mindset of “eating it all or not”

Slip-ups happen. Maybe you overslept one morning and missed your workout, or you caught a cold and had to miss a week of practice. Or you just don’t feel the same way and give yourself a few extra days off.

Stewart, who has been training arduously for months for bodybuilding competitions, says to be patient with yourself and treat training flaws like little speed bumps. Visualize your New Year’s fitness resolutions as the accumulation of consistent hard work, not just one session or a week.

“I like the saying that ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint,’” says Stewart. “When you envision it as a lifestyle change, you are constantly moving forward. And even if you take a step back, that’s okay. As long as you wake up and start working the next day, and you’re on track with your goals, one small slip will not affect your progress.”

3. You’re training too hard, too fast

McWilliams says that proper rest and recovery can extend the life of your fitness goals. Betraying your body’s signal to take a break can lead to trauma, both mentally and physically.

“Listening to your body is going to be important, and a lot of people want to fight that,” says McWilliams. “Trust yourself, listen to your body, and adjust whenever something is wrong with you. That will help you be more consistent in an exercise routine, rather than resisting it.”

Workout challenges like the viral 75 Hard Challenge are loved by many for their quick results, but according to McWilliams, maintaining the required level of intensity can be too difficult for the average person.

“When you have an intense intention to do something, you are more likely to burn out,” says McWilliams. “That’s why it’s so important to find goals that you feel are achievable and sustainable, that you think you can consistently achieve over a long period of time.”

4. You are traveling alone

Gymxiety is real, and if you’re starting your fitness journey for the first time, going to the gym alone can be intimidating. Pushing yourself into a new environment without the support of friends or the guidance of a trained professional can be overwhelming. If your budget allows, consider taking a beginner-friendly class or hiring a personal trainer to show you the ropes.

Stewart, who fell in love with yoga after taking group classes, says a friendly friendship can keep you motivated to keep coming back. “Once I started getting involved in the community, it made it a lot more interesting,” she said.

When it comes to sticking to our goals, Stewart adds, having a friend (or two or three) accountable can help you stay consistent. “If you don’t have someone to hold you accountable in some way, nobody will tell you if you take a day off,” she said.

5. You are choosing the wrong exercise

If you want to stay fit this year, focus on forms of movement that you really enjoy. After all, there are many ways to get in shape. If you hate running but want more cardio, consider exploring other ways to get your heart rate up, such as Zumba or rowing.

Because if you’re afraid to work out, you’ll be less likely to stick to your goals and possibly even completely ruin your relationship with exercise.

“Find out what sounds interesting to you and give it a try,” says Stewart. “If you try something and it doesn’t work for you at all, why do it? You have to find your thing.

McWilliams, whose training revolves around body-neutral tenants — the idea that you don’t have to love your body as it is, but appreciate all it gives you — agrees, says that it is best to choose exercises that you “think you will” maybe to do, and also you will interesting doing.”


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