New Year’s Day is almost here, and for many people that means one thing: time to make New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, chances are you’ve also abandoned one. In fact, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned every year, and fitness professionals are no exception. In this article, ten of your favorite fitness pros talk about their abandoned resolutions, what they learned from them, and what they’re doing differently.
Every single year between 1998 and 2004 I set a New Year’s Resolution to “get in shape,” and every single year it never happened. In fact, I think I got in progressively “worse shape” as time went on. I remember every February feeling like a failure because I hadn’t been able to stick to my New Year’s Resolution AGAIN. Looking back now, it seems obvious to me why I hadn’t been able to achieve my goal. It wasn’t that I was a failure, but rather my resolution wasn’t specific or well-defined, and I didn’t have any action steps in place to work towards it. Now I understand how to set clear, specific, action-based resolutions to ensure that doesn’t happen anymore.
New Year’s resolutions in the past were completely centered around my body and physical goals. These are not bad goals, of course, but in my case they were all focused on how many times a week I would workout in order to keep my body the same size, or to make it smaller.
The goal to workout five times a week was never attainable in the context of my life. Over time, this became really good information for me, though! I’m not someone who is going to workout intensely many times per week because I simply do not like it. Now, it’s off the table and I’m able to direct my energy into intentions that truly match my desires.
I have always felt paralyzed by the idea of resolutions as even beginning to look at what changes I want to make spirals into a never ending list of ways I feel I’m failing. How can I take on one thing when everything needs to change? At once! It also served as a yearly marker of what I didn’t accomplish that I’d vowed to the year before.
Now I am in a regular state of objective analyzation of where I’m at and regrouping all year round. It takes the pressure off the once a year check in and gives me constant opportunity for growth instead of the pass/fail notion of an annual resolution.
Every January for the last several years I’ve made a list of things I want to try or accomplish that year. I don’t make resolutions per se, more like tangible things I want to do.
For the past few years I’ve had the same five things on my list:
- Take salsa lessons
- Learn to ride a motorcycle
- Take Muay Thai lessons
- Hike every week
- Write my f*cking book
Now, off of this list I’ve only actually done one: I took months of salsa dance lessons this year and it was absolutely amazing.
The other four intentions have played out as such:
I’ve researched motorcycle riding courses in my area and, although I haven’t pulled the trigger, I’ve laid out a path to do so.
I’ve changed my mind about Muay Thai, realizing after many years that I haven’t made any movement on this because it turns out I don’t really want to do it.
I’ve not hiked every week but I have spent a lot more time in Nature.
My book hasn’t been written yet, but I’ve spent a lot of time getting more clear on what I want the book to be and how I’m going to publish it. I’ve also gotten better at writing every single day in order to hone the craft.
From this reflection I’ve learned that it’s okay not to accomplish everything on the list, and it’s okay to change my mind about what I want. I know that none of this is pass/fail and that as long as my yearly intentions have spurred me to some kind of action, then that’s more than enough. I’m not interested in perfect or in putting undue pressure on myself; I’m committed to forming new habits and enjoying the process.
I’ve also learned that rather than give myself exact things to accomplish, it’s more effective for me to use words like “more” when setting intentions for the year. My 2017 intentions?
- Write more, in any capacity.
- Take more time to ground and center myself (this takes many forms).
- Spend more time in nature, actively or inactively.
With these intentions, I know that I’ll experience growth and joy without feeling the need to check a box.
A small part of me is loathe to tell this story publicly, as I prefer to be thought of as a little bit tough (I mean, I did play rugby for 13 years, for goddess’s sake!), but here goes nothing.
The problem with my 2013 fitness resolution wasn’t that it wasn’t specific, measurable, or achievable — it was! — but I still unceremoniously walked away from that mammerjammer and never looked back (OK, I might peek once in a while).
My resolution was to successfully complete the Iron Maiden, a trio of strength moves performed with a 24-kilogram kettlebell (a pistol, a one-armed overhead press, and a weighted pull-up).
I got a training plan from a fellow pro in the community and set off about achieving my goal. The press and the pistol I could already do (though the pistol not prettily yet because I need to work on my ankle mobility, OK?!), so the pull-up was going to be the big trick.
A month or two into it, I quit. Some pretty intense elbow pain (of the tendinitis/-osis ilk) had cropped up in one of my elbows, just as it always does when I hit the weighted pull-ups regularly. I decided, simply, that I didn’t enjoy being in pain when I trained, and that there were a whole bunch of other exciting goals I could pursue instead. So I did that, and lived happily, unapologetically ever after.
I’ve never taken part in a New Year’s Resolution, but I do know what it’s like to set a goal and not reach it. For example, I used to obsess over reaching a triple bodyweight deadlift (which would have been about 375 pounds). All I could think was “375!” But I forgot that before I pulled 375 I’d first need to pull 345, then 350, then 355. The point is this: don’t get caught up obsessing over the main goal, especially one that will take many months, or years, to reach. Savor the small victories you can accomplish today, this week, and this month. These consistent small wins are what lead you to the big prize. This mentality applies well to New Year’s Resolutions: focus on small wins.
From 1993 to 2003, “Lose some damn weight already!” was the only New Years’ Resolution I made. And in those ten years, a few weeks of deprivation led to a wintry mix of bingeing, shame, and despair. The end was always the same — I gained more weight than I ever managed to lose. It’s been over 10 years since I lost over 150 pounds, and now it’s obvious to me: attempts to “fix” what is “wrong” with me doesn’t work. The only thing that works is caring for my body, because that’s what it deserves. Consistent care is the only resolution worth making, and the results are phenomenal.
In my early twenties I was the stereotypical university student – study hard, party hard. I ate too much greasy campus food and spent hours sitting at my desk. My workouts were on the dance floor Thursday nights. Every year my resolution was to “be healthier” but I had no clue what that meant. At the end of every year I was frustrated that I hadn’t made any progress towards my “goal”. When I was 24, my best friend and I hired a personal trainer. I fell in love with strength training—and muscles!—and learned about good nutrition habits. Today I understand that a strong support system and a specific plan are key to succeeding at any goal that I create for myself.
I used to always set one or two resolutions each for body, heart, mind, and spirit. I would try to be specific, making lists in the columns of each category before choosing the ones I wanted to stick to. The problem is I tried to change way too much all at once, so after a short while I was left with nothing. By the end of January “real life” would have taken over, and I didn’t have the time (or willpower) every day to: work out, dance, meditate, color, journal, cook healthy food, and do a crossword puzzle. So instead, I did nothing.
Last year I was interviewed for a fitness site regarding my New Year’s Resolution. I resolved to “be more present” in my daily living. I understood what it meant, but I didn’t have a clear vision of how to achieve this. I spent a good part of the year still living on autopilot. It wasn’t until the past few months that I dug deep to figure out the steps to make my goal happen. I realized that change doesn’t occur because I say it will. Change is the result of an action plan developed through guided research and with a system that helps us build better habits over time. I shifted from “let’s do this thing!” to “let’s find a habit to focus on” and it’s working much better.
When I was in my twenties and had the unhealthy and mentally draining mindset of making myself less, I would often make the New Year’s resolution of losing body fat with the one-two combo of burning more calories each week by doing additional cardio, and eliminating my favourite foods and slashing my daily caloric intake. Both of these strategies were ineffective, soul-zapping, and did not last for more than a week, tops. I no longer make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I make lifestyle resolutions by establishing realistic and sustainable habits that allow me to feel good, and help me become more, not less.
Any of these scenarios sound familiar? Getting stuck on the outcome and forgetting about the steps you need to take to achieve it? Taking on too much at once? Making vague resolutions with no clear definition of what you’re trying to achieve?
It’s no wonder that so many of us feel like we’ve failed, year after year, when we abandon our resolutions just a few weeks into January. That’s precisely why we are so excited to launch our new Resolution Revolution campaign.
The purpose of the Resolution Revolution is to, well, revolutionize the way we set New Year’s resolutions. There are a few very specific reasons why most resolutions fail or are abandoned. We’ve created a Resolution Revolution Action Kit that explains why they fail, and how you can finally set one that sticks (and continue making sustainable changes long after the Resolution Revolution is over!)
We are so sick of the old paradigm that sets women up for failure and leaves them feeling like they aren’t good enough. At the same time, we understand the desire to make change and the strong motivation that comes with the start of a new year.
That is why rather than completely discouraging the idea of making resolutions, we decided to revolutionize this tradition, and help set women up for success and for making changes in their lives from a positive place instead of a place of feeling “not good enough.”
The thing is, we can’t start a revolution by ourselves!
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Step 1: Sign up for our Resolution Revolution Action Kit here: https://www.girlsgonestrong.com/resolution-revolution/
Step 2: Check your email and download the Action Kit. (If it’s not in your email in 10 to 15 minutes, check your spam folder.)
Step 3: Read through the Action Kit and pay close attention to how to participate and be eligible for prizes.
And remember, participating in this campaign not only helps you and thousands of women around the world finally learn how to set themselves up for success when it comes to making life changes, but you’ll also be entered to win awesome prizes, like free Modern Woman’s Guide Platinum editions, free Girls Gone Strong apparel, and $500 Strongest You Coaching scholarships!
Be part of something meaningful — Join the Resolution Revolution now!