Did you know that 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by the second week of February? You start out with good intentions, high from the New Year's celebrations. And by February, you're back to your old habits.
What happened exactly? Did you aim too high? Or are New Year's resolutions just worthless?
Most people do aim too high. They can visualize a "better them" and they want to become that person quickly. Unfortunately, our brains just don't change that quickly.
To change your habits, you must take baby steps. This means choosing New Year's resolutions that better resemble training plans rather than some sort of golden standard.
If you take our advice, you can reach your ultimate diet and exercise goals this next year. Here are a few New Year's resolution ideas that are sure to help you realize your dreams in 2019.
1. New Years Resolution Ideas: Exercise to Feel Good Every Day
Unless you're willing to restrict your diet, exercise won't make you lose weight quickly. Weight loss is all about (good) calories in vs. calories out. And when you do lose weight, one-quarter of that is muscle.
Weight loss isn't useless. It's associated with better mood, reduced risk of diabetes, and better health overall. But it shouldn't be the only reason you exercise.
Exercise can be as powerful a mood booster as some anti-depressants and stimulants. Why is this? Our brains naturally produce neurochemicals called endorphins.
These are the chemicals that keep us happy and encourage us to continue doing good things with our bodies. We get endorphins by making love, eating chocolate, and being philanthropic.
We also get endorphins from intense exercise. When we stress our bodies, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain release endorphins. These simulate opioids in the brain and reduce discomfort.
Recent studies show that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective at producing endorphins than longer, less intense exercise. Instead of one hour of exercise per day, do 30 minutes a day with 20 minutes of intense exercise. You will benefit from endorphins and feel better throughout the day.
So, make it your New Year's resolution to exercise to feel better every day.
2. Find the Root of Your Problems
Another reason people fail at New Year's resolutions: they are trying to fix the wrong problems. Often your bad habits are a symptom and not an actual cause.
If your goal is to lose weight by eating out less, maybe you're looking at the wrong part of the problem. The problem might actually be your job, relationship, or stress. It might even be something that happened in the past, or family disfunction that causes emotional eating.
You may not even realize your job is something you can change. Most people assume their job hours and stresses are immutable.
It's often easier to say no to family than it is to say no to a boss. But if you sit back and survey your work situation, you might see some areas where you can improve it.
Is there any way you can reduce your demand level? Do you have an accurate handle on your work responsibilities? Maybe you need to find a job that will give you more time to cook at home.
Time restraints can destroy most ultimate New Years goals by tax season, which is when the days are shorter, and stress is higher. Make it your goal this year find the underlying problems to your dieting woes.
3. Have Fun Doing Something Instead
Humans tend to do the opposite of what will actually help them. We assume that if you just punish ourselves for our bad deeds, we'll gravitate toward good deeds.
But think about the last time you received a punishment. Did you suddenly want to do the right thing? No. You just wanted to avoid the punishment however you could.
When you're the one in charge of the punishment, there's no way you're going to keep doing good things to avoid the penalty. You'll just stop punishing yourself and go back to what feels good.
Here's a real-world example: Nationally-recognized running coach Joe English believes in positive reinforcement for behavior change. He used it on himself and it worked.
Joe realized that alcohol was both worsening his depression and hampering his running performance. He quit cold turkey.
Most people wouldn't be able to quit a habit cold turkey, but the key was that he made it fun. He was a social drinker. He replaced his drinking friends with sober ones.
His advice? "Whatever change it is…you need to have fun, positive moments…to teach your brain that life can be good and fun without whatever it is you're giving up."
So, this year, replace one bad habit with a fun one.
4. Sign Up For a Program
A discerning biology professor once said, "no student is an island." And many students who didn't participate in group studies failed her class.
There's something to be said about group pressure when it comes to making goals a reality. If everyone around you is achieving at the same thing, it's hard not to join in.
There is a certain kind of accountability inherent in a group activity. And science backs up this claim. A recent study found that 70% of people who send weekly updates to a friend achieve their goals.
This is why weight loss programs like Weight Watchers work. They're not merely a diet program, they're a group activity.
Don't Just Sign Up for a GymCash can be another motivator associated with group programs. If you paid to participate, you're more likely to attend. But here's the rub, it must be a scheduled activity.
Signing up for a gym membership doesn't count. Doesn't matter if they offer classes. You're not likely to continue going if you weren't in the habit of exercising before.
Almost 50% of Americans drop their gym membership by the end of January, and most diets fail before Spring. But CrossFit sees a different number. They only see 37% of new members drop off by the end of January. What's the difference?
CrossFit is generally a group activity. The gym keeps track of your progress and you're suffering along with like-minded individuals. This is also the secret sauce in diets like WW that have been around for decades while others crash and burn after a few years. It also explains the appeal of hot diet apps like Noom that stress "wellness with social support" instead of even mentioning the word, "diet."
A gym, on the other hand, is a lonely place if you're not going along with friends. Few there keep track of your progress, and you can quickly get lost in the crowd.
This year make it your goal to join a weight loss program that offers the support of an online community, or take a weekly fitness class.
Just Do It
Procrastination is one of the greatest New Year's resolutions killer. It doesn't matter if it's a weight loss goal, an exercise goal, or habit elimination goal, the outcome will be the same if you don't get started.
100% of people who don't start on their New Year's resolution ideas fail. So get to it!