Why New Year’s Fitness Resolutions Often Crumble & How to Overcome It

woman stretching

Advice from Rebecca Lee, Vice President of Membership & Wellness

113 million – that’s how many results show up if you type in “New Year’s Fitness Resolution” into Google, from hacks and guides to charts showing you how many miles to run per day to reach your goal. It can leave many of us unsure of where to start.

As Vice President of Membership & Wellness of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and fitness industry expert of nearly 20 years, I’ve seen diet trends, well-marketed programs, and different workouts come and go but what remains constant is the most important – purpose. If you can pinpoint your purpose, your mindset around fitness and health can begin to take shape.

Your purpose can be having an able body to travel and hike at national parks across the country or to feel strong and healthy enough to play with your children or grandchildren. Whatever it is, it pulls you away from short-term, surface-level fitness goals and allows you to focus on how you feel. This can change your perspective and help you look at the big picture and ask, “How do I want to live my life?” Which is much more important than the size of your jeans.

Once you learn the core of why you’re investing in your health, you can create a more thoughtful and purposeful path to improve your eating habits, physical fitness, and overall wellness. Without it, it’s like building a house without a foundation…it won’t last. Whatever path you choose will be successful if it is important to you, and you are consistent in your work toward it.

Here are five reminders to help you better understand your progress and overcome barriers to your fitness journey and a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Be Realistic

We’re all creatures of habit. Your current lifestyle is years of doing the same thing over and over again. It isn’t realistic or fair to suddenly expect a dramatic change. If anyone or anything is promising you this, run the other way! It likely is unsafe and not sustainable. Instead, work at chipping away at your goal. I’ve heard and always tell others, in the first four weeks toward your fitness goal, only expect to FEEL better. You will notice physical changes after eight weeks. It may take twelve weeks, (THREE months) for others to notice your efforts.

Start with small, achievable goals. Create some early wins for yourself! Rather than telling yourself you’re going to run one mile every day if you haven’t ran or even walked a mile in a very long time, start with a 10-minute walk twice a week. If you don't normally wake up at 5 a.m., don’t set that as the time to go to workout. Everyone has a different internal clock and a different schedule. Choose a realistic time that works with your life.

  1. Stop Restricting Yourself

It sounds counterintuitive, but for some, restricting foods has resulted in heightened cravings and a damaged relationship with eating. It’s imperative to find a balance between foods that give you energy versus foods that simply satisfy your taste buds. Having a snack or meal that isn’t nutrient-rich every once in a while isn’t going to set you back on your progress. It’s the same for eating one or two healthy meals, it’s not going to give you flat abs that week. Stop calling foods “bad” or “good”, or even calling yourself those things if you ate or didn’t eat something. Make changes you can make for a lifetime. Start small; they add up.

  1. It’s Not All Physical

Mental health is just as critical as physical health. They connect in every way. At times we experience negative self-talk that finds reasons for us to give up. Some people experience more of this and some less. Thoughts of, “I’m still not seeing results, what’s the point of doing all this?” or “I overate and ruined this week, so it doesn’t matter what I do now.”

The criticism is loud. In times like these, take a moment to pause and ask yourself, would I say that to a friend or someone else going through the same journey? Probably not. Half the battle is our own mindset. Could other things be contributing to our mental health?

Who do you have in your life supporting you in achieving your goals? Taking care of our overall well-being includes our mental health, and creating goals to work on ourselves internally is also important.

  1. Celebrate Your Wins, No Matter the Size

Weight scales and measurements only tell one part of the story, even then they’re not entirely accurate. If you’re able to complete an extra push-up or pull-up, that’s a win! If you can now run 30 seconds longer without a break, that’s a win. If you’re drinking more water throughout the day, say it with me, THAT’S A WIN. When you can celebrate your accomplishments, big or small, you’re showing yourself the progress you’ve made. Discipline got you here but it’s these moments of motivation that make the ride that much more enjoyable.

  1. It’s Not About Being Perfect

Sometimes, you’re going to miss a workout, you’re going to arrive late, and you’re not going to feel your best – and that’s OK. It doesn't mean that you failed and should give up. Improving your fitness and health is not a one size fits all or even a one-and-done deal, you are working to change the way you live your life. It's not meant to be perfect.

The idea is to build a better version of you, whatever that looks like. Our bodies do amazing things. They can heal, give life, and move us through the world. We have one body for one lifetime and what we do and how we treat ourselves matters. So, give yourself grace throughout your wellness journey – the hardest part is starting!

The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas offers a range of programs that support any fitness level including group workout classes, personal training, cooking lessons and more. Signing up is quick and easy, visit our website at ymcadallas.org