I can’t believe it’s already the middle of January and week 3 of Winter Quarter! Where has the time gone? It feels like my New Year’s resolutions are a thing of the past!
If you’re like me, sometimes you wanna just give up on your resolutions, or your fitness plan in general. (And no worries if you don’t stick with them because there are loads of reasons why some resolutions just don’t work out and all of them are okay. Just remember that you tried and even taking small steps to stay healthy and keep active is enough!)
But if you are wondering what you can do to help you stick with them or just maintain an active lifestyle, read on! Here are 5 tips to help you stick to your fitness plan, new or old:
Tip #1: Make sure to clearly define your goals!
I know this seems really obvious but many people tend to make a goal of “becoming healthier” or “getting more active”. These broad goals are easier to dismiss because people tend to believe they are not making any progress as there are no definitive markers of success when reaching broad goals.
Instead, make clear goals! Some examples could be exercising a couple times a week or biking to work to get some additional movement in! By setting more definite goals, it’ll be easier to complete them as you can more easily see how to achieve your goals. But also make sure to not rely heavily on a numeric goal because that could negatively affect how you perceive yourself, especially if you don’t reach that number! So have a clear goal but don’t sweat the actual number: as long as you can tell you are making some awesome progress!
Remember to make your goals feasible too! For example, if you haven’t been that active, don’t make a goal to run a marathon by next week. Creating unattainable goals is just as bad as making ambiguous goals because you will want to push yourself to achieve it while making incredible progress but still end up feeling upset (click this link for how to set reasonable goals). Although it isn’t actually bad that you can’t run a marathon in a week, you will create this mentality of failure, which only makes you less inclined with continuing or creating other goals.
Tip #2: Create a schedule!
Make sure to remember to include these goals in your schedules or planners! By being able to visually see your commitments, it will make it easier for you to continue to stick to them. It takes out the time in your day when you have to worry about when you can possibly make time for it.
By scheduling in time to achieve these goals, according to Dr. Paul Marciano, a psychologist specializing in behavior modification and motivation, you will definitely be more inclined to stick to them because your mind will mark them as priorities. They would be just as important as the scheduled time you have for class or meetings!
Tip #3: Track your progress!
Remember to also track your progress! This will provide further motivation to stick with your current fitness goals because you can see how well you are doing! The tangible evidence helps people stick to their goals because they can realize how much they have grown in their endeavors.
And don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet the end goal for a certain time frame! Any progress you have made proves that you are one step closer to your end goal! Dr. Marchiano states that achieving our goals is not reliant upon our willpower but rather encourages us to develop the right skills and patience that will lead to success. Also, according to the American Psychiatric Association on how to keep a healthy life, this could also be an indication that you should simply reassess your plan and make adjustments to your goals!
Tip #4: Reward yourself!
Now don’t get me wrong: getting healthy and staying fit can be reward enough but if you’re like me, sometimes you need a bit more incentive. What better way than to treat yourself! These rewards shouldn’t be anything that would prevent you from continuing but should still be fun to further motivate you! For example, treat yourself to a fun day: a spa trip, video game day, or movie marathon!
Taking a day off of your fitness plan can actually motivate you because it will be like a breathe of fresh air! After a day of relaxation, you will be more energized to continue on with your goals to better yourself and reach that next “treat yourself” day!
Tip #5: Talk about it!
Talk about your goals with your friends and family! It may seem daunting at first, but I promise you: they are all only here to support you and cheer you on!
This will also help reduce stress if you think that the entire resolution may be too much. By talking it out, you’ll be able to see a fresh perspective and determine whether to keep going or if certain adjustments should be made! They can help you reason out your true goals and capabilities. So don’t be afraid to share with your loved ones!
Just one more note: remember the first step in making and sticking with these goals is to ensure you are doing them for the right reasons. According to Michelle Segar, Ph.D., a motivation scientist, those who stick to their resolutions have their reasons based in truly wanting to change their lives in a way that will “energize them – not deplete them”. Make sure these goals are based in the want to better yourself FOR yourself, not for anyone else. By embarking on these goals for yourself, you’ll be more inclined to stick with them and the success will feel much better too!
I hope these tips were helpful! Good luck and just remember, sticking to the “plan” is great but as long as you feel you are making progress, continue on! We, the Healthy Campus Initiative, are always with you on this fitness journey!
Tiffany Hu is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Bioinformatics. She is a blogger for Move Well of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. She is the co-Director of the Student Health Advocates, which focuses on educating students on various intersections of health. Tiffany is also the Special Projects and Alumni Coordinator of the UCLA Care Extender Internship, which helps students volunteer at all departments in the UCLA Medical Centers.