Motivation Articles

Are You Making These 5 Resolution Mistakes?

Don't Fall Victim to These Easy-to-Fix Errors

124SHARES
Fueled by the promise of a fresh start, it’s easy to whip together a list of resolutions in late December, but sticking to them when the novelty wears off in February is the real test. Don't let that deter you from committing to self-improvements. The key to success is recognizing the common reasons for failure and then actively avoiding them.
 
We talked to some professional fitness trainers to get their take on why resolutions fail. By recognizing these common reasons for botched goals, you'll be in a better position to stay on track.

Mistake #1: Setting vague goals


Data from a Nielsen survey shows that the top resolution in 2015 was "staying fit and healthy." That's an admirable goal, but it's also very broad. Toby Amidor, nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day, points out the importance of creating more specific resolutions.

"Losing 40 pounds sounds like a great resolution, but how will you achieve it?" Amidor asks. "If you choose to make a long-term resolution, make sure you list several short-term resolutions, such as 'I will switch from drinking regular soda to water or seltzer' or 'I will include a fruit in at least one snack each day.'"

Becky Hand, SparkPeople's registered nutritionist, agrees with the need to pinpoint small but clear goals. "Word all resolutions so you can easily measure them to track your daily and weekly progress," she suggests. "An example might be, 'On Monday and Wednesday night, I will pack my gym bag and place it in my car so I’ll be ready for my Zumba class after work on Tuesday and Thursday.'"

Mistake #2: Not setting a timeframe


An open-ended goal is also more likely to be abandoned. If your resolution has no milestones or benchmarks, it'll be tough to even get started, much less to succeed. 

Fitness coach Ben Greenfield emphasizes the importance of putting dates around resolutions. "Imagine if you had to run a marathon with no idea where the starting line, ending line or any of the middle points are," he says. "When you set a resolution, you must set a start date, such as 'the first Monday in January I weigh myself,' and an end date or end goal, such as 'I'll lose a pound every two weeks until May 31st, or until I’ve lost 20 pounds.'"
 
Be realistic when setting your timeline. Rushing the process is a recipe for frustration and failure. Kim Schaper, a certified trainer and nutrition coach in Georgia, recommends a gradual process—especially for those starting their first fitness program. "Instead of going all out in the beginning, ease into it," she suggests. "Remember, the more abrupt the change, the harder to sustain. Slow and gradual is the name of the game."

Mistake #3: Assuming it's "all or nothing"


It's a common mistake to set idealistic restrictions or shoot for drastic changes, such as "I'm cutting all sugar out of my diet" or "I'm never eating bread again." Instead, come up with workable solutions that mesh with your lifestyle.

Angelique Mills, a fitness expert and lifestyle coach from Los Angeles, cautions against the all-or-nothing approach. "There are people with poor nutrition and zero desire to exercise who become so frustrated with their situation that they begin to do the complete opposite: they begin obsessively over-exercising and nearly starve themselves, thinking that this behavior will help them achieve their results quicker," she says. "When they see that this method does not work, they give up. Health and fitness, just like life, is NOT black and white. It’s okay to work with those in-between shades of grey. It is in that balance that you will succeed."
 
Amidor agrees: "Instead of resolving to never eat your favorite junk food again, resolve to eat healthier food instead of massive portions of your favorite junk food—such as, 'I will only eat one ounce of chocolate a day and couple it with a fruit.' The addition of fruit can help curb your sweet tooth and add more fruit into your diet, which most people lack."

Mistake #4: Keeping resolutions under wraps


If no one knows about your resolutions, it's all too easy to forget they ever existed and slip back into your old ways. You'll be much more likely to stick to them if your friends and family are holding you accountable. 

Greenfield included this as one of his biggest resolution mistakes. "You can increase your accountability, motivation and potential to stick with your workout goals if you share your progress using Facebook, Twitter or your own blog. You can also share your actual workouts by getting a workout buddy or even hiring a personal trainer," he says.

Mistake #5: Program hopping


In the digital fitness landscape, you're always just a click away from the next big exercise craze or fitness plan. With the dizzying array of options, it can be tempting to skip around and try different programs. 

Schaper advises against program hopping. "Aim to focus on one person or program you trust," she recommends. "Remember, you can always change routes, but the more you look for several answers, the more confused, anxious and unsure you become. After choosing a program, stick with it and shut off the outside noise of outside opinions. What works for one person might not work for you."

 
Looking for more tips to stay on track this season? Check out our articles on staying motivated.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1  
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
124SHARES

Member Comments

  • I am a program hopper. I'm always looking for the "perfect" solution. Even when my diet and exercise plan is going well - I'll self-sabotage by abandoning what is working for me - and chase after something new. I never knew that what I did has a label and is actually very common. Just knowing this, has made me realize that it is only a bad habit that I need to change. Thanks, Sparkpeople.
  • Trying to stick with it for a change. SP might be just the vehicle to get me there.
  • one of the links didn't work for me.
    The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day,
  • I am a program hopper. Just when I begin having some success - I find something else to try - instead of sticking to something I know is working. I was amazed to realize I was not the only one who does this. My resolutions for the new year are to pick one simple plan and if it works - stick with it.
  • TRACEYDT
    Very practical, doable advice. I teach chronic disease self management classes and diabetes self management classes where we call these "action plans." You choose 1 very specific goal and break it down into pieces, complete with detailed plans for when, where, how much, how often, etc. Our participants are sometimes amazed at what they accomplish using this process.

About The Author

Melissa Rudy Melissa Rudy
A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into online writing in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.