Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get your best body ever? Well, the odds are against you. A shocking 88 percent of all resolutions go unfulfilled, according to an oft-cited 2007 survey conducted by British psychologist Richard Wiseman.
Turn-of-the-calendar promises fared slightly better in a 2002 University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, with 54 percent giving up within six months. But still, you’re swimming upstream. It’s the little slips, daily decisions and other mental errors that lead to your downfall.
So how do you stick to your plan?
We asked a number of certified trainers for some strategies they give their clients to help
them sidestep the annoying obstacles life tosses their way. See what they have to say and adopt some of these strategies for yourself.
Obstacle: You’re Busy
No need to apologize — it’s the reality of balancing a career, a family and a social life. But when late nights at the office lead to skipped workouts, those goals you were so gung-ho about can slip from the spotlight faster than an American Idol winner.
“There are always going to be work or family obligations that get in the way of giving ourselves enough attention, so start thinking of your workouts as ‘me’ time,” says Zayna Gold, founder and co-owner of Boston Body Pilates.
The best strategy to fitting in this “me” time is getting up an hour earlier. Gold admits this may sound daunting, especially if you already rise early or aren’t a morning person. “But being up and extra hour or two before the rest of your household will not only give you time for your workout, it’ll also give you time to yourself before the obligations start,” she says. “That time provides a sense of well-being, accomplishment and positive energy throughout your day.”
Obstacle: You’re Pooped
Do you skip breakfast? Do you subsist on sugary snacks? Do you go all day without a meal and then eat a large dinner? If so, then your diet could be to blame for your fatigue, says Dallas-based health, wellness and lifestyle coach Kim Truman.
Sustain your energy all day by eating breakfast, and have a lunch and dinner that are rich in lean protein and complex carbohydrates. “It’s also important to keep your blood sugar level throughout the day be eating every two to three hours,” Truman says. Between meals have a healthy snack such as carrots with hummus or a protein shake and a piece of fruit.
If you aren’t sensitive to caffeine, you also may want to drink a cup of coffee before you work out. “Studies have shown caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, which can make you feel drowsy, and can boost your exercise endurance,” Truman says.
Sometimes your exhaustion is mental, however. But this is where exercise can help: Getting out and moving around can literally change your mood by releasing serotonin and other “feel-good” brain chemicals. Talk yourself into moving for 15 minutes. Once those chemicals kick in, you’ll get that needed mental boost that’ll power you through your workouts and the rest of your day.
Obstacle: You’re Injured
Sprains, strains, contusions and breaks are the risk you run when you’re very active. Besides the ignominy of hopping around for weeks in a cast, injuries can prove a serious setback to your get-fit goals mentally as well as physically.
If you’re on a doctor-ordered regimen of rest and recovery, all is not lost, says fitness instructor Patricia Friberg. “Focus your energy on eating a clean, healthy diet, start a food log and even consult with a nutritionist, she suggests.
For injuries that don’t require rest, quiz your doctor about what movements you can and cannot do. “The more knowledge you have about the injury, the more creative you can be in designing a new workout plan,” Friberg says. “For instance, if you love running but have to stop while you heal, try cycling, Pilates or yoga. This way, you can still burn calories and build strength while healing.”
Being able to stay active in some capacity will work wonders for your mental state. Remind yourself that you’ve only got a finite healing time and that before long you’ll be back to kicking butt with the best of them.