By Jennifer Latson
It’s easy to commit to healthy lifestyle changes on January 1. The hard part is keeping them going in February — and beyond. So how can we set ourselves up for success when it comes to health and fitness resolutions, and how can we keep up our momentum throughout the rest of the year? Karly Mendez, a human performance specialist with Memorial Hermann | Rockets Sports Medicine Institute, shares her advice for overcoming roadblocks and staying on track.
How can we make healthy New Year’s resolutions that last?
To get into the right mindset, first you have to make a commitment to yourself. There’s a reason behind your resolution, and it’s important to keep that reason, or reasons, in mind. One way to do that is to create a vision board — not just of your fitness goals, but your life goals. That way, when you’re stressed out or feel overwhelmed, you can remind yourself what you’re working toward, and why. You can also share your goals with friends or family so they can act as an accountability partner for you.
What kinds of goals are most sustainable?
Short-term goals are best when you’re starting out. I would set weekly goals that give you benchmarks you can attain quickly. You can have a long-term goal as well, but if that’s all you have, it can feel like it’s going to take forever to get there. So I recommend splitting it into shorter-term goals in the meantime and creating a reward system for each goal you reach.
It’s also important to start small and build up slowly, rather than start, say, an intense workout routine and then give up two weeks later because you’re tired and your muscles are sore. Keep in mind that something is always better than nothing: if you get some movement in, it’s better than not doing anything.
What’s the best way to keep your momentum up once you’ve set these goals?
The biggest thing is getting rid of the all-or-nothing mentality. Understand that there will be roadblocks on the path to achieving your goals, and that’s OK. We use the 80-20 rule: As long as you’re 80 percent consistent, that’s great. It doesn’t need to be 100 percent the whole time. Life happens, and things will get in the way of your goals. That doesn’t mean you failed. Just get back into it when you can.
I also stress that discipline and motivation are different, so when motivation is lacking, that’s when you need to be disciplined. And remember why you started this journey. That will help you get inspired when you start to flag.
What are some common reasons people give up on their resolutions?
Time — or a lack of time — is the biggest excuse out there. Things like work, school and family all take time, and that can cut into the time you set aside for fitness. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you don’t need to spend two hours at the gym to get in better shape. You can do things like park farther away or take the stairs to wherever you’re going. You can do little things throughout the day to stay active when you don’t have time to go to the gym. There’s lots of research showing that smaller bursts of activity over time might actually be better than spending a full hour at the gym. And don’t stress about signing up for a gym membership or buying expensive new exercise equipment — you can just use your own body weight. As long as you’re getting that movement in, that’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how or where.
How can you get back on track if you’ve veered off course?
First, know that you’re not alone. Making meaningful change is hard, and setbacks are inevitable. If you’ve gotten off track completely, revisit your goals. Did you really set a reachable goal? If your initial goal was extremely ambitious, you can break it down into smaller parts.
It’s also a good idea to share your goals with someone who can help you stay accountable. Journaling is great, too. It can help you understand why you set those goals for yourself and reinvigorate your sense of purpose.
What is the Memorial Hermann Resolution program? How can it help people achieve their healthy resolutions?
Memorial Hermann Resolution is a free, four-week program that connects you with a team of wellness professionals who work as your personal coaches. It helps with accountability and provides resources to help you stay on track. When you sign up online, you get access to a lot of different tools to help you meet your goals for a healthier lifestyle, including meal plans, H-E-B grocery lists, scheduled workout classes with local fitness studios, guided meditations, a weekly wellness podcast and in-person and virtual events.
To learn more, visit memorialhermann.org/resolution.