Fitness resolutions are a bit like fitness fads. They come, they go, but they rarely make much of a dent in your actual health.
Not this year.
We talked to a few trainers to identify 17 simple, totally doable ways you can improve your exercise plan and mindset to get better results in 2017. Cross them off of your list as you go, and this will undoubtedly be your healthiest year yet.
1. BE A GAINER
Instead of focusing on what you want to lose from your workout, focus on what you want to gain. For example, “I want to lose 30 pounds” is less motivating than “I want to gain strength.”
2. GET COMPETITIVE
Make your resolution a measurable goal by participating in a race or other fitness competition like a charity walk, 5K, marathon or sprint triathlon.
3. DITCH THE “ALL OR NOTHING” MENTALITY
Instead of using your jam-packed schedule as an excuse to say, “I don’t have time for exercise,” use the time crunch as a reason to perform a quick high-intensity interval workout. Hold a wall sit while you brush your teeth, or just take the stairs more often.
4. REWARD YOURSELF
Once you hit a goal, do something nice for yourself. For example, if you want to run a 10K in under an hour, your reward could be the running watch you’ve been eyeing.
5. FORGET PUNISHMENT
Instead of thinking of exercise as punishment, look at it as an opportunity to feel great.
6. BE SILLY
Exercising should be fun — however you define “fun.” Join in a game of trampoline dodgeball, sign up for a break-dancing class or play hide-and-seek with your kids.
7. MAKE CHANGES SLOWLY
Instead of trying to go from zero to 100 on January 1, work on mastering one small exercise habit over the course of a couple of weeks. Once you feel like you have that one down, add another one.
8. CHASE QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
The most effective exercise isn’t the hardest or fastest, it’s the exercise that’s performed with impeccable form. Make technique your first priority in the gym.
9. WARM UP
Don’t skip your exercise warmup. It makes your ultimate workout — running, cycling, lifting weights or intervals — feel easier, and it allows you to push harder, which means you’ll get better results.
10. ENLIST A “WELLNESS CHAMPION”
Ask your significant other, best friend or sibling to help keep you accountable and cheer you on during your fitness journey. Pick someone who already see health and fitness as a top priority.
11. GET VISUAL
Whether you are in the gym, on the trail or just trying to muster up the motivation to workout, employ visualization techniques. See and feel yourself achieving your goal — then go after it.
12. GET MORE SLEEP
Yes, this really is a fitness goal. Getting seven hours of good, quality sleep per night keeps you energized so you can crush your workouts, and then recover from them.
13. PICK UP SOMETHING HEAVY
Integrating strength training into your workout routine is vital to building muscle, increasing strength and keeping your bones healthy.
14. BE PATIENT
Progress, in terms of both exercise performance and fitness results, takes time. Be patient with yourself and trust that you’ll get there if you stick with it.
15. INCREASE YOUR MOBILITY
Foam roll before every workout and stretch after. Bonus points if you do both on rest days.
16. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Every once in a while, you will miss a workout or have an “off” day in the gym. Don’t let that trip you up. Just accept it and move on.
17. TRACK YOUR WORKOUTS AND NUTRITION
Apps like MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness make you more likely to stick with your goal and will eliminate time spent guessing about how much you ate, how fast you ran or how much weight you should lift this week. Plus, it’ll allow you to see just how far you’ve come.