How not to break the resolutions you make

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

The 2017 calendar indicates that this is only the second week in January, which means you are already two weeks into your New Year’s goals and resolutions.  Congratulations on that!  The question many individuals begin to ask themselves right around this time is “How do I keep my motivation strong all year long?”

Ah, yes…that’s a tough one to answer.  As the weeks go by, reasons morph into excuses; and before you know it you have skipped two weeks’ worth of gym time.  While there are many articles devoted to this very topic, in almost every January issue of every magazine you read, here are a few rarely mentioned yet very effective ideas to help you keep those promises you made to yourself on Dec. 31. 

Many of us choose to take the weekends off from workouts. Whether it is due to religious observation, other family priorities, or simply needing a brief break, grant yourself permission to use these days to eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, and in general rejuvenate your spirit.  HOWEVER: Never miss a Monday workout! This has to be one of the best ways of maintaining a firm grip on your newly established fitness goals. A Monday workout starts off the week in a positive light, especially if you plan for the workout on Sunday night.  This can be as simple as selecting what you will wear to the gym on Monday, or preparing a healthy post-workout snack to carry in your gym bag. Getting your “head into the game” the night before will trigger positive associations with the exercise session that lies ahead.  In addition, accomplishing your Monday workout may encourage you to make healthier choices in the kitchen all week long. 

For some, the downfall originates from not having a clear-cut definition of goals. It’s easy to say, “I want to look better and be healthier”; now, how do you get there?  If your end goal is physique-related, be specific:  is the real drive to lose weight? Add muscle? Lower a cholesterol reading? Writing the goal down helps maintain accountability as well as provide a clearer path to navigate.  Do you need a personal trainer or a running partner? Do you wish to try a new group exercise class format? Are you training for a specific event?  Might a consultation with a dietitian be helpful? Many individuals find a greater level of success when they seriously consider the goal, and design a manner of reaching one-third of this end result within four months.  Seeing success makes it easier to keep going for another four months…and another. Shifting from “by next January….” to “May 1st” often will make the vision feel more within your grasp. 

Although there has been much hype associated with biorhythms and the optimal time of day for one’s workouts, there are other factors to consider when designing an exercise schedule. Many experts have found a great advantage to exercising in the morning, ideally before starting your workday or hectic schedule with the kids. Otherwise, it is simply too easy to allow the hours to slip away. By evening, fatigue from the day’s events might propel you home to the couch instead of to the gym. In terms of science, starting your morning with a training session will increase the body’s endorphins and dopamine, thereby delivering a positive outlook and a boost in confidence that will remain with you for the rest of the day. 

If you have struggled to maintain resolution motivation in the past, give these tips a try.  They will make you think differently, shift priorities, and up the chances of success in reaching your desired goal by January 2018.