10 tips for making your resolutions stick this year

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It's that time of year when we take stock of the different areas of our lives, not least our health and fitness, and decide what we don't like. If you've set goals in the past that have turned out to be nothing more than unfulfilled wishes, putting the following steps into practice will maximise your chances of health and success!

1 Be realistic

Set goals that will work with your schedule and lifestyle. With a FIFO lifestyle, the time commitment involved in training for an Ironman triathlon might not work with your schedule. But a sprint distance triathlon could. Rather than biting off more than you can chew, and then getting discouraged when you’re unable to meet your own high expectations, set yourself up for success by setting achievable goals in the short term.

2 Be specific

Broad resolutions like 'lose weight', 'get in shape' or 'eat healthier' don’t provide enough structure to stick the course to the end. Make a specific goal like 'lose 10kg', 'exercise three times a week for 40 minutes' or 'eat five servings of vegetables a day'.

3 Make a plan

Once you have a specific goal, outline a plan to reach it. Give yourself a realistic time frame, and work up to your goals, step by step, over time.

4 Plan in steps

Jumping right into new behaviours can be overwhelming and exhausting. If your goal is to exercise three days a week for 40 minutes, start with 10 minutes twice a week and add duration over time. If it’s to eat five servings of vegetables a day, start with one or two servings a day and work up. Drastic, sudden changes are less likely to become habit than small, sustainable changes that compound over time.

5 Monitor your progress

Keep a journal of your success and track daily or weekly to document the challenges you’ve met and overcome, and the mini-wins along the way. Seeing your progress in this objective way can be very motivating, as sometimes we expect far too much of ourselves far too soon and don’t recognise that small changes add up over time.

6 Be flexible

You might hit a roadblock you can’t figure out how to overcome. Having the flexibility to alter your plan and goal will allow you to navigate challenges and roadblocks without feeling like you’ve failed. For instance, if your goal is to run 5km, but you injure your foot, being flexible to change (rather than quit) your training to allow your foot to heal will help you maintain your cardiovascular conditioning and endurance.

7 Allow for setbacks

Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Rather than consider them failures, recognise setbacks for the learning opportunities they are, and continue on the road to success.

8 Focus more on how far you’ve come, and less on how far you still have to go

It’s easy to feel discouraged if you fixate on how far you have to go to reach your goal, so recognise the small wins you make along the way. Sometimes a win is simply that you made it to training that day, even if you feel like you didn’t smash it. Recognising and celebrating each success can remind you how capable you are, and give you the motivation to keep moving forward.

9 Enlist social support

Tell your friends and family about what you are doing and the reasons why, and ask for their support. And while you’re away working, seek out a supportive online community to cheer you on. One of the best things about the Internet is that finding people with similar goals and interests is as easy as typing a few words into a search bar. Follow supportive people on Twitter and Facebook, (like me! www.facebook.com/OneLifeFitnessandLifestyleCoaching) and find chat rooms and forums discussing topics that are relevant to you and your goals.

10 Be patient!

I saved this one for last, because it’s not only the most important, but the hardest! The instant gratification mindset isn’t going to do you any favours in your endeavours at changing your bad habits, but being able to step back and apply patience will. Remind yourself that changes happen slowly over time, and those that are worthwhile, the ones that inspired you to take action in the first place, do not happen overnight.

Trying to change everything all at once rarely works out well, and expecting things to always work according to plan is a recipe for disappointment. As long as you keep moving forward, despite the setbacks, disappointment and frustrations you will get there eventually. Good luck!

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Mareike Bout is a qualified and registered personal trainer who specialises in holistic fitness and lifestyle coaching. She is a recognised leader in the industry, receiving the peer-voted South Australia Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2008. She is also a regular guest on Adelaide’s top-rating radio station FIVEaa. Mareike runs her personal training business, One Life Live Well, both online and from a private studio in Adelaide. Services include one-on-one training, outdoor group fitness, lifestyle coaching and weight-loss programs. Individually tailored programs encompass aspects of exercise, nutrition, relaxation, positive thinking, life balance, and goal setting. Her approach is to guide, support and educate her clients so that they posses the tools required to live a life of health, strength and vitality!