Resolutions: In One Year and Out the Other

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The new year is great for my industry, because losing weight and/or getting fit is the number-one resolution in the U.S. Though it’s not in my best interest, I’m actually encouraging you not to make New Year’s resolutions, because I don’t think they work.

Resolutions are generally what psychologists call vows: solemn, often emotionally intense promises. For example, “I will work out more this year” or “I will eat better this year.” These kinds of resolutions fail at least 88 percent of the time.

What to do instead?

Reflecting on your life and goals is very important — this is a great time of year for that — and I believe your health and fitness should always be high on your priority list. Here are three keys to successfully changing the course of your health and fitness in 2016.

1. Doubt yourself. Research on smokers shows that those who are the most confident in their ability to quit are paradoxically the least successful in doing so. This is because they don’t think through what to do when they’re tired, stressed or having insane cravings. Quitting cigarettes is hard, and working out consistently — even if it’s “only” three times a week — is no different. You have an unlimited number of things competing for your time and money, and everything is more urgent than being proactive about your health and fitness. The good news is that acknowledging reality empowers you to set up strategies to keep the tired and stressed self of the future on track.

2. Make it concrete. Again according to research, the key to follow-through is writing down the answers to four questions: What? When? Where? How? For example: On Monday and Friday at 6 p.m., I will work out with a coach at True 180 Fitness, and on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., I will sprint the hill at 34th Street for 30 minutes after a warm-up.

3. Get accountability. Can you lean on a friend who is already consistent? Sticking to his or her schedule can change your life. But please don’t team up a friend who is also struggling to work out — you are likely to support each other in not changing. A good personal trainer can also be very helpful in holding you accountable. (Just don’t expect to be able to outsource your health and fitness to a personal trainer. He or she is only with you one to three hours per week.)

Have you heard some or most of this before? Probably, but hearing and doing are two very different things. Don’t wait until Jan. 1 — that’s the same old song and dance. Stop what you’re doing and invest 10 minutes to write out your concrete plan right now.

A best-selling author and fitness expert, Josef Brandenburg owns True 180 Fitness in Georgetown. Information about his 14-Day Personal Training Experience may be found at true180.fitness.

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