Go vegan. Quit smoking. Hit the gym seven days a week. As 2018 draws to a close, many of us are compiling a lofty resolution list for 2019. While setting ambitious goals can be motivating, shooting for the moon can also lead to frustration, and ultimately, failure. In fact, less than 10 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them.
But don’t throw in the towel or reach for that donut just yet.
Practicing some simple strategies can help you stay the course and realize lasting success. Although this post focuses on exercise and fitness, these tips may be applicable to other goals, too:
- Start small: Because any and all movement can make a difference, aim to take a walk around your block every evening. According to new federal guidelines, you can significantly improve your health by sitting less and moving more
- Don’t go it alone: Social interaction bolsters fitness stick-to-itiveness. Instead of exercising solo, sign up for a group fitness class, stroll with co-workers during lunches or walking meetings, or partner with a personal trainer or medical exercise specialist. Along with fitness and lifestyle medicine classes, Holland Hospital’s Center for Good Health also offers access to a certified medical exercise specialist (CMES) who fills the gap between physician advice and patient application. A CMES can provide more one-on-one time, a safe and effective exercise plan, and continued support and education for making rewarding lifestyle changes.
- Break it up: Too busy for exercise? If you don’t have time or aren’t comfortable exercising for 30 minutes all at once, break your workouts into three 10-minute sessions per day.
- Find your fun: Refer to your treadmill as the “dread mill?” Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore or bore. Find an activity you enjoy—whether it’s dancing, swimming or body pumping. Mixing up your activities helps to keep things fresh, too.
- Track your progress: Take advantage of a smartphone app to track your weight, what you eat and how often you exercise. There are also a wide range of fitness wearables available today. If you’re not into high tech, a basic pedometer can be just as effective to get you moving.
- Cut yourself some slack. Believe in you! Stay positive, even when you don’t make it to the gym on a Tuesday or for a whole week. Remember, a single let down doesn’t have to dictate your entire year.
- Rest and recover: Allow your body to rest and recover between exercise sessions. If you ever feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea during exercise, stop, as you could be pushing yourself too hard.
From lowering your risk of heart disease and improving your blood sugar to helping you lose weight and brightening your spirits, working out works for your long-term health—so resolve to make exercise part of your wellness blueprint.