Forget vague aspirations and get real with this year's goals.
Considering New Year’s resolutions are meant to be the foundation of a better lifestyle that will last the rest of your life, it’s a shame that the most common trio by far are simply to get fitter, eat more healthily, or lose weight. These are all admirable intentions, of course, but when you consider how vague and largely uninspiring they are, it’s not surprising that most people struggle to stick to them.
These resolutions are flawed from the off – you need a fixed goal, something that is achievable, and, most importantly of all, you need to pick something you’re going to enjoy achieving.
One good way to work out if you’ve made a good resolution is to consider whether you’re going to want to talk about completing it at your New Year’s Eve party. If your weight has dropped from 198lbs to 191lbs that’s some solid work, but you probably won’t bother to bring it up.
If you’ve dropped those 7lbs because you completed your first marathon, climbed Kilimanjaro, learned to kitesurf, or became an excellent cook, then people are going to want to hear about it.
1. Commit to an adventure
This can work as a cracking combination of trying something new, signing up for an event and booking an active vacation. If traditional exercise leaves you cold then try kitesurfing, or climb Kilimanjaro, or trek through a South American rainforest.
The last one will really help you step up your fitness kick because you want to be sure that you can outrun a jaguar. Or, to be more accurate, that you can outrun whoever you are trekking with should a jaguar suddenly appear. Just remember to start your fitness tracker before sprinting off, because a new one-mile PR will definitely be in the cards.
2. Sign up for an event
Be it a marathon, 100-mile cycle, or 10K row, events are an excellent way to achieve your fitness goals in an enjoyable fashion. Preparing for the event means you’ll naturally get fitter and the day itself will be a grand occasion that will only encourage you to do more.
Also, by signing up for an event later in the year it will ensure you don’t just go all out in January and burn out your enthusiasm. You can build slowly towards a fixed date – one that you can’t ignore like a gym membership.
3. Book an active vacation
The ultimate in reward-based activity, make sure you enjoy your exercise by planning on doing it in a glamorous location.
The thought of the vacation itself is sure to inspire you through bleaker days of training, especially since you know that cycling in Tanzania, or canoeing in Canada, or road tripping around Washington State's Cascade Loop is only going to be half as enjoyable if you’re unfit.
4. Take a cooking class
Learning to cook food from scratch puts you on the fast-track to a healthy diet, as it makes it all the easier to avoid hidden fats and sugars, and helps build an understanding of what is actually good for you.
You can do this via online classes, healthy eating apps, books, or, if you’re really hopeless in the kitchen, a full cooking course, where you also get the added benefit of socializing.
5. Try a one-month challenge
If you feel your best bet for an active year is to strike while the iron’s hot and go all out in January, then a 30-day challenge might be just the ticket.
Whether it’s exercise of food-based, there are a multitude of online challenges that will not only give you something to brag about, but also put you in a great position to carry on your fitness regime in slightly less extreme fashion come February.
6. Aim for a new PR
If you’re already fairly active, or at least have been at some point in your past, you likely have some kind of personal best you’re proud of. Be it a 5K time, maximum deadlift, or golf score.
Get that target in your sights, spend the year working towards breaking it and you’ll naturally get into better shape.
7. Try three new activities
You might have tried, and failed, to get on a fitness kick many times in the past. If so, there’s little point re-treading the same path and doing the same exercise plan. Expand your horizons and try at least three new things. Eventually, you’ll discover an activity you love doing.
Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.