It’s that time of year again. For many of us, the moment we finish opening gifts and feasting on holiday treats, our thoughts turn to the dreaded New Year’s resolutions—that list of changes we want to make but always seem to lose track of soon after the new year. At Oxford, we believe in focusing on a lifestyle of wellness rather than a crash-and-burn approach to dieting and fitness. So with that in mind, we decided to start the year off right with some expert tips and tricks to help you make your goals and resolutions a reality this year that carries far beyond January.
Start Small and Be Specific
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), making your goals small and attainable is key to forming long-term habits. It’s important to make resolutions that you think you can keep. So if your goal is to exercise more often, start by aiming for three or four days per week instead of seven.
It’s also important to make your goals specific so that you have a clear plan in mind. So instead of saying you’ll go to the gym 3 days each week, schedule the days you plan to go and decide what you’ll work on while there.
The blend of small and specific makes your goals feel more attainable. Saying you want to get in shape feels daunting; saying you’ll work out for 30 minutes Monday, Wednesday and Friday feels attainable. And the longer you’re committed to that, the more attainable the larger goal of overall fitness becomes.
Focus on One Behavior at a Time
Bad habits and behaviors don’t happen all at once; they develop over the course of time. This means replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones also takes time. Instead of getting overwhelmed, focus on smaller milestones that build towards your overall goal.
Want to eat healthier? Try eliminating 1 snack each day or subbing out one sugary drink for water. When this becomes the new habit, try another healthy switch. This gradual shift will add up to big results without feeling like you’re overhauling your entire life in one swing.
Talk About Your Goals
Having a support group to encourage you and keep you accountable is key to sticking with your New Year’s goals. Share your resolutions with friends and family who can offer support when you’re struggling and encouragement when you’re making good progress. Real Simple explains that “public commitments are generally more successful than private decisions.”
Track Your Progress
Tracking your new habits and behaviors in one way is extremely helpful when it comes to sticking to your resolutions. Figure out what works for you. If you already keep a daily planner or journal, add in a section for tracking your goals and habits. If you’d rather go digital, there are numerous apps for your smartphone or tablet that can help you track your goals. Whatever method you prefer, finding a way of tracking that works for you can help you visualize the progress you’re making and encourage you to keep going.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
As you’re tracking your progress, don’t be afraid to mark the days you take a misstep too. No one is perfect; you’re guaranteed to have a day where you sleep in and don’t get to the gym. The important thing is not to let this get you down. Remember that every day is a new start and one misstep can’t undo all the progress you make.
Whatever your goals may be, make 2018 the year that they stop being just New Year’s Resolutions and become new long-term habits. Remember that at Oxford, we believe in making those goals a reality, whether that’s through our personal training, trying out a new class or getting your workout buddies to join! New year, new you, new Oxford: let’s do this!