It’s the first week of classes. You have a bright new schedule, a fresh, untouched gradebook, and some new bus routes to get used to. Finals week was a blur, and however it went, you’re past it now- it’s spring 2022! You promised yourself each week leading up to this month that you wouldn’t be another cliché resolutioner. You’re determined that THIS is the year you do it…. How can you be extra sure?
We’re here to help.
UGA Fitness & Wellness is always at your side, ready to equip you with what you need to make it a successful year of change, no matter the size or shape of your goals. This post is all about making this year THAT year for you, so read on and maybe you’ll take away a thing or two!
Traps and Don’ts of Resolution-ing
Rather than loading up on things to do and act upon to make your New Year’s goals a reality, you can benefit plenty (or even more) from being aware of what NOT to do along the way! So, let’s talk about three huge traps when it comes to successful New Year’s resolutions:
DON’T overwhelm yourself
As enticing as it may be to achieve a monumental resolution this year, consider breaking that into smaller goals and milestones to hit along the way–that resolution is still there for grabs (see SMART goals below)! This isn’t unique to your fitness New Year’s goals either–whether it’s joining a new club, picking up a time-demanding hobby, or any other commitment, don’t forget to give yourself some space to breathe! Try to layer-on your commitments slowly and be mindful of how busy things can get towards midterms later in the semester. More is not better. You are only one person and it’s okay not to be responsible for everything!
Instead of trying to get a workout in 5 days a week right off the bat, start small with 3 days per week for January, then add the extra day in February, and maybe drop in that fifth day when March comes around.
DON’T worry about someone else’s goals
Everybody is going to have different goals with different starting points, with different resources, different flexibility, and different priorities. When you walk into those Ramsey doors, scan in at the front, and wave to your friendly neighborhood facility staff, you came to work on YOU–not the person walking past you in the hall! Seeing people’s progress and updates on social media can make it exceptionally difficult to ignore what everybody else is up to. DO celebrate your peers and their work, but DON’T let them define you in comparison, bigger or smaller. You are your own best competition, and your own fairest competition–be honest with yourself and set your own standard!
DON’T underplay your successes
Wanting to make a change for yourself this year can very often tie into feeling unhappy or unsatisfied with how things are off the bat. While on paper this is great fuel for self-improvement and putting in genuine effort to grow yourself, it can be easy to focus on more on negatives than positives. Instead, try thinking about the benefits of putting time and effort into yourself, out of self-appreciation! You can practice this by celebrating small victories, being more compassionate with yourself when a bad week gets in the way of your progress or taking log of at least one thing you did for yourself each day that you think was great!
What IS a SMART Goal?
Developing SMART goals is one of the best ways to help you stay on track and create actionable items to maintain your progress. The acronym SMART stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Each of these adjectives outlines how you want to develop your goals.
Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. Being too vague about your goals can make them fall out of focus more easily.
- Quick Tip: write down your goals! Writing down your goals can make them seem more real.
It’s important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Think numbers here. It can be easy to lose momentum when you can’t tell how close you are to the finish line, or gauge how much you’ve accomplished from day one.
- Is there a particular weight you hope to lift or number of times per week you would like to take a group fitness class? Attaching a measurable element to your goals will help you identify if you are meeting them effectively.
Your goal also needs to be attainable to be successful. In other words, it should challenge your capabilities, but not feel impossible.
- When you set an attainable goal, you avoid setting yourself up for discouragement, while also creating the opportunity to set incrementally more challenging goals in the future, knowing what you did successfully achieve.
It’s also important to make sure your goal is realistic. While attainability is more concerned with your own capabilities, being realistic also considers factors that aren’t so much in your control.
- This may include considering your schedule and other commitments, your body’s capacity to recover, or the expenses that can be a part of your fitness goal. For example, it would not be realistic for you to set a goal of running a marathon if you hate running.
Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work towards. Without a concrete finish-line established, it can be easy for smaller everyday things to get in the way of achieving that goal you set.
- Whether you want to accomplish the goal in one month, three months, or one semester, it is important to identify your deadline for completion. For all the procrastinators out there, this one’s for you!
Sustainability above all
According to the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard, 99% of all failed attempts to commit to a new lifestyle change or fitness endeavor come down to a lack of sustainability.1 It’s important to think about the long-term and whether your goals and habits are realistic to keep up for more than this week or a couple of days–you’re in this for the long run!
Plan things out, consider your other commitments, and be sure you have the time and energy to keep up all that work you plan on putting in! Your goals are important to you, and the last thing you want to do is set yourself up for failure down the road. Be proactive and don’t rush yourself into trying to do everything all at once–try layering things on incrementally and listen to your body. If your goal involves going to the gym a certain number of times per week, start small and build your way up! You’ll still be working towards your goal, while also giving yourself time to get used to things as they build up.
There IS an “I” in Team
Accountability and social support are critical when you are working to develop a habit, achieve a goal, or to maintain a new behavior. A workout buddy, personal trainer, or wellness coach can provide individualized accountability specific to your personal goals. If you are more motivated by social support, attending a group fitness class or going to the gym with a group of friends can help you achieve and stick with your New Year’s Resolutions.
Putting it all Together
Asking yourself, “What has worked for me in the past?” can be helpful in achieving your New Year’s Resolutions. When we reflect on past successes, we identify patterns in our behaviors and form a better understanding of our challenges in achieving the goals we’ve set. Remember, if we want our resolutions to stick, we are really trying to develop new behaviors. Achieving behavior change is a long-term process that likely can’t be adopted in just a few weeks. True behavior change requires continued focus and commitment to ensure success.
Resources for You
1Willett WC, Hu FB, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ. Building better guidelines for healthy and sustainable diets. Article. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2021;114(2):401-404. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqab079
Written by: Lisa Williamson, Assistant Director for Fitness & Wellness, UGA Recreational Sports, and Yazan Bouchi, Personal Training Program Assistant and MPH student