People have been setting resolutions for millennia; in fact, the practice dates all the way back to the first recorded celebrations in honor of a new year. And every January, we continue to hear about many common goals and intentions — around weight loss, exercise, nutrition, and other healthy habits.
But how helpful are these yearly resolutions? And how likely are we to stick to them?
National Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day, when many take a break from their aspirations for a day or simply scrap them all together, happens less than three weeks into the year on January 17.
“I’m a firm believer that we should never stop growing,” says Joshua Flynn, personal training leader at Life Time in Folsom, Calif. “Creating a resolution to better oneself is a great thing and I’m a big advocate for it. But if the only time we talk about goals is around the New Year, we miss the point and turn it into an excuse to not change at any other time throughout the year.”
Commitment and consistency are the keys to reaching any goal, and that’s why some healthy-living experts suggest focusing on smaller lifestyle changes to reach a larger goal, rather than resolution-setting.
“I help my clients make lifestyle changes that come with minimal psychological resistance,” says Nicholas Sharnik, CSCS, CPT, CES, PES, personal trainer at Life Time in Bloomfield, Colo. “The smaller the change, the better. The one-percent improvement you aim for should be so small that it feels almost effortless. And I don’t think it needs to be tied to a timeline. You can start immediately.”
If you have goals, January — or any month — is no time to ditch them! When you fall off track, you can always start again and recommit. We asked several top Life Time Dynamic Personal Trainers for their best advice for persevering, adjusting, and ultimately reaching your healthy-living goals, even if you start encountering obstacles.
Our expert panel:
- Joshua Flynn, CPT, personal training leader at Life Time in Folsom, Calif.
- Nicholas Sharnik, CSCS, CPT, CES, PES, Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in Bloomfield, Colo.
- Brian McKinney, CPT, Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in St. Louis Park, Minn.
- Paul Rennalls, CPT, personal trainer at Life Time in Pickerington, Ohio
- Christa Mills, NCCA CPT, NASM CES, ISSA SNS, Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in Fort Worth, Texas
Life Time Editorial | I was really excited when I first started working toward my goal, but a few weeks in I feel like I’m losing steam. What do I do?
Nicholas Sharnik | I believe you must standardize before you optimize. To do this, start by creating a positive relationship with your healthy-living routine. For example, if you’re trying to stick to a certain workout program but are losing steam a few weeks in, your workout probably feels like too much of a chore for you.
Try adjusting these levers until you reach a point where it no longer feels arduous. Then, once you have been consistent for at least three weeks, start to add intensity and volume back into the program.
Brian McKinney | Try reframing your goals in a way that directly affects those around you. For example, I have a 2-year-old son and my goal is to be a healthy role model for him and be there for him well into his adult life.
If you focus on goals that only involve you, you’re less likely to stay motivated. When I coach my classes at Life Time, I often partner athletes together, and time and time again I see people working harder with a partner than if they were to train on their own.
LTE | I’ve been working hard on my goals but I’m not seeing the results I was hoping for. What advice do you have?
Paul Rennalls | Be honest with yourself about how you’re spending your time. For seven days, track your sleep, screen time, movement, nutrition, hydration, or whatever else could influence what you’re trying to change. Then, assess how that might be impacting your goals. Do your behaviors match up with what you’re trying to accomplish? You may need to reprioritize and recommit to your healthy habits.
Christa Mills | When this happens to my clients, I like to ask these questions:
- Are you training in the right heart-rate zones? If you don’t know your heart-rate zones, consider taking an Active Metabolic Assessment.
- Are you eating enough of and the right foods for your body? If you’re noticing abnormal symptoms like bloating, inflammation, or acid reflux, consider a food sensitivities test or an elimination-diet program.
- Are you hydrating enough? Rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. You might be surprised how little you are drinking when you start tracking.
- Are you resting and sleeping enough? You won’t see results if you’re not taking enough time for recovery. Try for seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Yoga, meditation, and light walks with a pet or neighbor can also help reduce your stress levels.
Joshua Flynn | Don’t give into discouragement, and don’t give up. Success is never a straight line. Talk to the specialists and experts at your club to and be open to what they have to say. They have your best interest at heart.
LTE | An injury or life event is preventing me from reaching my goals. What should I do?
Brian McKinney | My advice is to focus on the things you can do, rather than the ones you can’t. I had a client who injured her arm and shoulder and instead of pausing her workouts, she still came to the club and trained her lower body with me.
A few years later, she slipped on ice and broke her ankle. She said, “Well, we can still do upper body,” and we got her workouts in. I always share this story with those looking for an excuse to stop progressing toward their goals.
Christa Mills | Life happens. You can only control what you can control. Sickness, injury, death, and more are all events that we can’t control. Give yourself some grace and do what you can. When you’re ready, pick yourself up and get right back on your program.
LTE | How can I set myself up to successfully stick to healthier habits for the rest of the year? Does Life Time have a program that could help me with that?
Christa Mills | Life Time has several programs to help you learn healthy habits and behaviors, as well as how to follow a workout program. You even get tips on how to grocery shop and prepare healthy meals for you and your family. A network of supporters also helps keep you accountable as you become part of a community of likeminded people all driven to see results.