Even if things did not go according to plan last time around, every New Year is an opportunity to move forward. That's the whole point of resolutions, after all. Your health and fitness are particularly well-suited to the practice, even if it feels hard to stay consistent.
We asked experts to recommend a few fitness hacks you can use after that first week, New Year honeymoon period. When the going gets tough, you'll have a playbook to stay on top of your commitment to making yourself healthier and, most importantly, happier.
Schedule a Competition for 90 Days After the New Year
Even if you're not a competitive person by nature, a fun contest can bring out anyone's best efforts. Adding a competitive element to your New Year's fitness goal also helps to serve as motivation to follow a strategic, long-term training plan, since there's a payoff at the end other than the nebulous goal of "getting in better shape."
Signing up for a competition, whether it's a 5K run or your first Spartan Race , reinforces our instinctive need to achieve, says Chelsi Day , PsyD, HSPP, a clinical and sport psychologist for Indiana University Athletics. Make sure to set a specific date and sign up for the event within the first week of the New Year, so you'll be less likely to back out if you start getting the jitters as the date of the contest nears.
Selfies Lead to Success
Dont use the scale to measure progresstake photos instead. That way, you'll actually have visual evidence of your body's progression, rather than strictly sticking to numbers on a chart.
If you're feeling particularly brave, share your progress on social media. A 2013 weight loss study from Translational Behavioral Medicine found that participants who shared their progress on Twitter lost more weight than those who kept their results to themselves. We've seen some great results from normal guys ready and willing to share their transformations . What's holding you back?
Set Up Mini-Goals to Hit Each Month
There's nothing wrong with committing to big New Year fitness goals. But you should also establish small and specific monthly benchmarks to maintain your motivation throughout the year. This will give you a reason to celebrate incremental progress or success as you move closer to the bigger goal you set for yourself.
If I ask you to eat a steak in one bite, you might be intimidated and pass on ordering the steak," says Day. "But if you cut the steak into manageable bites, it helps us enjoy it." For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds, break that up into 3 to 5 pounds per month.
Choose an Accountability Partner
Whether it's a trainer, a buddy, or even your significant other, a workout partner provides a powerful level of support to keep you motivated year-round. In fact, the American Society of Training and Development says that having a regular workout buddy will increase your likelihood of reaching your fitness goal by 95 percent. Make sure to choose someone who will not accept your excuses or give you a pass when you're not in the mood to hit the gym.
Challenge Yourself to an Extreme Workout
After you're settled in your regular routine, tackling the same workout week after week and month and after month may become boring and deplete your fitness mojo. You should be implementing different plans and progressing in your workout at the most basic levelbut you can also push yourself in other, more exciting ways to keep your commitment fresh.
To spice things up, ditch the traditional gym and challenge yourself to one extreme workout per month to keep things interesting. You can take your workout outside and venture into rock climbing or visit a local Ninja Warrior training facility to test your skills on a few obstacles.