It’s a pretty well-known fact that our best intentioned resolutions end up not making it past February (if we’re lucky). This predicament is precisely why we need a new approach to resolutions this year.
Instead of setting the same unmet, lofty goals each year, focus on 12 different themes each month. These themes provide an intention for your days and keep you focused on your health all year long. To get you started, we lay out what a sample 12-month plan looks like.
Chris Cucchiara, a physical therapist, asks clients this question to discover how to maximize results for the coming year. He recommends starting with the positive of figuring out what worked, then learning from what didn’t work. Spend the month journaling your answer to what worked last year and what you’ll continue in 2019, then what you’ll leave behind.
Shane McLean, an ACE certified personal trainer, advises switching from outcome-based goals, like how much weight you want to lose, to a performance-based goal, such as what you want to get your mile pace down to or doing your first chinup. He finds that when you focus on performance instead of the outcome, you get both.Throughout the month, think about — or even measure — the progress you’ve made toward your goal.
No matter where you fall on the diet spectrum — from a junk-food junkie to a health-food lover — you can always improve and add a greater variety of vitamins and minerals. Allison Jackson, an online fitness and nutrition coach, starts clients with a food log like you find on MyFitnessPal; she says these logs become a real “eye opener.” For the next 30 days, log everything you eat and do an assessment: What did you learn about your diet and what is one change you can make?
“This is a great question because it can apply to any aspect of fitness, whether rehabilitation, nutrition, strength training or anything of the sorts,” says Darin Hulslander, personal trainer and online coach. To begin, think of an action plan you can implement to follow through on your health goals. This could include getting a workout partner, posting in an online forum or logging your workouts to track your progress.
With the days getting longer and weather warmer, you might want to take your daily workouts later into the evening. To gain more energy to make this happen, Rachel Wong, certified sleep coach at Reverie, advises a sleep reset. To start, “Take a weekend to go to bed early, sleep in late, take naps and find time to take care of yourself,” she says. Once you wipe the slate clean on your sleep debt, pick a bedtime and stick to it. Wong says if you want to go to bed at 11:30 p.m., set a bedtime alarm to go off at 11 p.m. and wind down your activities for 30 minutes. Then, turn out the lights at 11:30 p.m. Note how many days you made it to bed at your set bedtime this month.
Branden Nicholson, a personal trainer, likes to ask this question to help his clients discover what they really want, which gets them to stick to their fitness plan. For example, if you want to lose weight, this might be less about the number of pounds, but instead, related to self-confidence issues. At this halfway point, consider how far you have come with your health goals the past six months and why you want to achieve them. Check in to see if your “why” changed since the beginning of 2019.
Once you answered your question, seek a mentor. For example, maybe you want to eat healthier, but don’t know how much protein you should consume. So, turn to a nutritionist. Or you want to learn more about strength training and seek a personal trainer. Tazz Tucker, instructor at TURN Studio, says talking to someone experienced in helping people reach their fitness goals can put you on a better path to crushing them.
Spend this month switching a bad habit for a good one. Rob Jackson, a certified personal trainer, asks his clients, “What’s the biggest thing holding you back from being healthier?” Perhaps you head out to drink and schmooze customers four nights a week. What could you swap for the calorie-laden alcohol? “I often find that a daily habit change gives the biggest wins,” he says.
As school starts again and general feelings of newness reign supreme, this September focus on a fitness-related concept you typically ignore, and begin making it a habit. For example, Katy Lush, certified Pilates instructor, recommends improving your balance. You can do this through an exercise called pelvic listing. “It’s essentially balancing on one leg with the other one hovering off the floor with a straight leg,” she says. You can do this standing in line at the grocery store or brushing your teeth.
As goals start to drift off, you can renew your commitment to your health by asking yourself loads of questions. Cucchiara provides examples: If you want to get in better shape, is it because you want to look good at the beach next summer? Is it to look good for your spouse? Is it to pick up your grandkids without pain? You’ll soon remember and hopefully recommit to your goals.
Consider past holidays: Do you drink too much? Do you go for the heavy dips and chips at parties? You don’t need to cut these out full stop — just cut back. Try one drink and then sip on sparkling water with lime for the rest of your party. Tucker likes to remind clients of the old adage: “Everything in moderation.”
As the year closes, remember how much growth you completed throughout the past 12 months. Thomas Ascough, an instructor of PLYOGA Fitness, feels you must remind yourself how far you have come because fitness gains and weight losses can slow down and people forget what they have accomplished. Look at all 12 monthly themes to see which one stood out to you the most and why. Start 2020 redoing this theme, and you’ll start the new year in a positive way.