As with every January, it’s time to take stock and make some New Year’s resolutions. And they’re almost always the same: eat well and do more exercise.
We do exactly the same thing year after year, because over and over again, we’re incapable of keeping them. In fact, I would put money on the fact that many of you are already about to abandon them and we haven’t even reached the end of January yet! That’s why I’m going to give you a series of tips so you’ll be able to keep them without too much effort:
1.- Set a realistic goal
2.- Set milestones along the way
3.- Positive reinforcement
1 -SET A REALISTIC GOAL
At one time or another, we’ve all done the typical thing of sticking a photo of a model on the fridge to put us off grabbing snacks every few hours, and reminding us of our goal. But let me tell you from experience that sticking a photo of Adriana Lima in her underwear on the fridge door is only going to make us depressed rather than motivate us. Because we all know that even with a personal trainer shouting in our ear all day long and with three sessions of liposuction, we wouldn’t even manage to look like we’re from the same species as her.
It’s better to set more accessible goals. For example: a photo of yourself from three years ago when your thighs didn’t rub together as you walked, or one in a bikini when you didn’t have love handles.
2 – SET MILESTONES ALONG THE WAY
If you weigh 80 kilos and you want to drop down to 60…what do you want me to tell you? Your resolution is too ambitious and you’ll drop it out of boredom within a month.
It’s much easier if you divide it up into manageable chunks which are doable in the short term (for example, setting the goal of losing a kilo a month) and each time you reach one of those milestones, you can celebrate it as a small victory.
3 – POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
Positive reinforcement is essential if we don’t want to get discouraged. We can give ourselves little treats to look forward to. For example, if I lose a kilo this month, I’ll buy that skirt I really like. Or if I manage to go to the gym three days this week, I’m allowed to eat pizza on Sunday.
Maybe blackmailing ourselves isn’t the end goal, but if we’re already doing something which is quite hard, there’s nothing wrong with looking for something to give us some extra motivation. Remember that it takes 21 days to pick up a habit, so this period is when we really need to pay attention to make sure we don’t give up.
4 – SEEK SUPPORT.
If you make a daily effort to eat well and go to the gym, but your friends only ever suggest plans to go for a pizza and drink alcohol, then of course it’s going to be more difficult for you.
Remember that there’s strength in numbers. If you suggest going to the gym with a friend, it will be much easier. Or you could look for an alternative at the weekend, such as going hiking.
If your friends have the same resolutions as you, you could even set it up as a competition. For example, “the person who goes to the gym the most days during the week has to invite the rest out to dinner,” or “the person who has lost the most weight by July gets a bathing suit bought for them.”
It might seem silly, but having to be accountable to other people for what you’ve done each day and competing to see who does better is a very effective way of motivating yourself. We’re Spanish. We can’t resist an old “who has the balls to do it better than me?”