How to stick to New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

How to stick to New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

Amon Fearon - January 26, 2023

The new year is a chance for fresh beginnings or taking your goals to the next level. This annual milestone is a period of reflection in our lives, to look at the big picture, and harness the power of the ‘fresh start effect’ as motivation to tackle new challenges. But only 28% of those who make New Year’s Resolutions are able to stick to them.

Over half of Britons who set New Year’s goals make more exercise or improving their fitness a top priority. And while mental health has become an alternative focus for some, the mind and body are closely linked. Improving your fitness levels can have a positive psychological effect that also contributes to better wellbeing.

So, why do most people fail to stick to their New Year’s fitness resolutions and how can you break through the barriers necessary to keep going?


Why we give up on our goals

You may have the motivation and aspiration to stick to our New year’s Resolutions in the beginning but so many of us seem to struggle and give up by February. Common reasons for this include:

  • Fighting to get back into a workout routine after being absent from it for a while
  • We might not commit because we can’t find the time
  • Goals are too difficult to keep up with
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • No plan of action


Start with why. Rooting out the problem and understanding what drives your desire to change are the first steps to breaking the cycle so you can form new habits to become the best version of yourself.


Why do you want to get fit?

If you want to keep your promises, find something to believe in – this will remain your source of motivation when times get tough. If we don’t know the ‘why’ then it’s hard to commit to the ‘how’. Without thinking about the thoughts behind our actions it’s easy for them to become lost in the day to day. You’ll also need to consider the long-term benefits of your motives. They could include gaining confidence, having more energy, and being more disciplined. Visualise not only of the physical benefits but the potential to feel great as well. This is the start to your plan. What do you actually want to achieve? Write it down. Commit it to paper and absorb the words.


Set your fitness goals

Generalising the goal can mislead your overall aim. ‘I would like to get fit’ needs more thought. Are you looking to lose weight? Improve your endurance and cardiovascular health? Improve flexibility? Or increase muscle mass? ‘Get fit’ is different for everyone. Whether you’re new to fitness training or looking to step up your current routine, giving yourself a more precise target will help you hit the mark. Using a numerical metric will make planning and keeping track of progress a lot easier and creates accountability. You’ll be able to research what exercise routine is necessary to meet your goals within a desired timeframe. This will give you an idea of the demands and what you need to stick to on a regular basis to achieve those targets.


Make sure they’re achievable

There is no quicker way to demotivate yourself than to set the goalposts too high, too soon. Unreasonable and unrealistic goals have all the good intention of getting quick results - until you’re three weeks in and not meeting the targets because they were unobtainable in the first place. This can cause frustration and deflate your motivation to keep going. If you’re looking for the long-term dedication, setting realistic targets will help entirely. Summarise your overall fitness goal – to lose x amount of weight, or increase x amount of muscle mass, run consistently and easily for x number of minutes, and then break this down into small targets that can be measured and time specific. For example, your goal is that you would like to lose 8lbs of fat. It is not realistic to expect this to happen within 2 weeks – nor is it safe! Break this down into 1lb-2lb per week as advised by many experts including the NHS. This is more manageable and the likelihood of maintaining progress is then much higher. Devise the plan to obtain the loss – healthy eating and exercise – and then closely monitor.


Plan a fitness schedule to meet your goals

So now we know that attainable and specific targets are the starting blocks for to help us keep committed to our new year’s resolutions, we next think about the time aspect. One of the big demotivators of commitment is finding the time to commit. Help yourself plan and research how long you should spend in the gym or somewhere convenient to meet your fitness goals and work from there. The type of exercise you do will change the amount of time you need. An aerobic fitness workout can be more beneficial in a time span of 30 to 60 minutes, however a HIIT work out can have similar beneficial effects in just 10 minutes – but needs longer rest days between. Being safe in your strategy is important to prevent injury. Find your approach and make your routine – preferably one you can enjoy more. Schedule and set time aside to prioritise your training plan to keep yourself accountable. Write it down. When starting out, focus on consistency more than intensity. It’s better to commit to 10-30 minutes of light exercise each day to develop the habit of working out than doing the occasional long training session.


Keep track of your fitness progress

As we’ve mentioned, it’s wise to write everything down. Keeping a physical diary and log of your goals and progress is great and easy way to help you achieve them. Keeping to our goals is a great start – but how far do you know you’ve truly come if you’re not keeping track? It’s hard to see short-term fitness transformations so this little bit of dedication can be the difference between resilience and giving up. Find the mini wins in the day to day and look at end of week results. The motivational aspect of this is unparalleled. Getting to the end of the week and ticking off the to do list gives you a sense of fulfilment. You’ve broken down your target of 1.5 hours exercise in the week to 30 minutes every other day and you’ve made it. You also goaled for 1lb loss per week, but this was 1.5lb – amazing feeling and great for future reflections. So, if one week you manage 0.5lbs and feel this is not a win – look back and balance out. Reflection is great for putting things into perspective and keeping you positive. Notes allow you to identify where you could be improving so you can adjust your training. Once hitting your target consistently you can incrementally take it to the next level.


Make changes to your goal over time.

There is no harm or foul in changing the goal over time. In fact, it is necessary. If you’re tracking your progress and feel you can push and improve then that is ideal. But if you need to amend your goals again because you can’t quite meet them just yet, then this is better than stopping altogether. Depending on your current fitness levels, you may not know your body’s needs or how much you can push limits without causing an injury so checking in with yourself is essential.

What really needs to be taken into consideration is patience. Starting out in a new goal with the best intentions and being enthusiastic can feel quite demoralising when the results don’t come straight away. It’s frustrating when the plan is made, written down and you have stuck with it for a couple of weeks but do not feel there is anything to show. The physical results will not come straight away, this does take time. The focus in the start of your fitness journey can be how the exercise is making you feel. Do you have more energy, are you sleeping better, do you feel you are mentally more at ease? You’re building mental toughness as well as improving your health and physique. There is so much to gain from sticking to your resolution that if we focus on this, we can feel even more motivated to just keep going. The results will come when you cultivate an attitude of Better Never Stops.