Why do so many people fail in meeting their New Year’s resolutions? Set yourself up for success this year.

New year. New you! Right? …Wrong, actually. Every year, nearly half of all Americans set New Year’s resolutions. The most common goal? Losing weight.

And while each shiny new year presents a fresh start and a clean slate – we’re all still the same people, accustomed to our same routines, susceptible to our same bad habits (which may explain why only 8% claim to meet their goals. You may, however, have a recharged emphasis on making a change. So how can you bottle up your focus and enthusiasm from January 1, and dose it out so that it can last through February, March and beyond?

Since we’ve been in the health and wellness game since 1868, we’ve come to learn a thing or two (or more) about the secrets to New Year’s resolution success.

5 Secrets to New Year’s Resolution Success:

1. Set a goal. You can’t achieve it if you don’t even try.

While this may sound trite, it’s true. Step #1 toward better health is understanding the need to focus on it. So set a tangible goal. Deciding to “be healthier” or “get more exercise” is hard to quantify. If being healthier includes losing weight, how much, specifically? If you want to get more exercise, does that mean working out three days a week? Five? Choosing a specific target will help keep you accountable. 

2. Think big, start small

Perhaps you’d like to lose 30 pounds. Or run your first marathon. Those are great New Year’s resolutions. Big ones that cannot be accomplished overnight. Lofty goals take perseverance, dedication and hard work over the course of time. Set interim goals, like weight loss in five pound increments or completing a 5k and 10k before you reach your marathon. Steadily working toward a major accomplishment through a series of smaller steps helps you understand progress and maintain motivation. Consider trying Treadmill Trekkers, a fantastic interval-training class with a coach who helps you meet the goals you set.

3. Use the “buddy system” to create accountability

Whether it’s a friend to work out with, joining a group exercise class, or hiring a personal trainer – creating a system of accountability will help you immensely when you “just don’t feel like it” or are “too tired” to exercise. Knowing that someone is expecting you is an incredible tool to keep you on track.

4. Celebrate milestones even if they’re quarter-milestones

This goes back to #2 above. Accomplishments, even small ones, boost your confidence, acknowledge hard work and are cause for celebration! It’s important to ensure, however, that the reward doesn’t take you away from your goals. (Hint: the “celebration” probably shouldn’t involve chocolate cake or skipping a workout). Tell your friends & family; make it an excuse to take a bubble bath or get a massage, etc.

5. Think positive

Last, but not least, is optimism. As we get older, it’s easy to find fault in our appearance. We tend to see our physical flaws without appreciating our assets – noticing the gray hairs or wrinkles instead of our beautiful eyes. Make a conscious, concerted effort to take a moment each time you look in a mirror and focus on a positive, not a negative. Compliment yourself each day. And when that becomes habit, also compliment at least one other person daily. You may be surprised the amount of joy you can radiate. When you’re happy, it tends to be contagious.

The YMCA is much more than a gym membership. Whether you’ve been a member for days or decades, you’ll find tons of fitness programs and activities tailored to suit your interests and abilities. And while it’s a new year, and you’re the same ‘ol you – if you’re already a member of the Cedar Rapids / Marion Area YMCAs, you’re quite a few steps ahead of everyone else. (Yay, you!) If not, consider joining today to take advantage of the Y community collectively working toward a better us.

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