It is January 12.

How well have you stayed true to your health and fitness resolutions so far this year? Have you been consistent with an exercise routine? Have you switched to a healthier diet? Have you ceased destructive behaviors such as smoking or excessive drinking?  Or, like most Americans, have you reverted back to your old 2014 ways?

According to a 2013 Forbes study, only 8 percent of Americans actually achieve their New Year resolution. You read that correctly: 92 percent of Americans set goals for the New Year that they never reach.

You are probably wondering why such a large number of people abandon their resolutions?

While there is not specific scientific research that answers that question in its entirety, there are common mistakes that many New Year hopefuls make, that lead to failure. By analyzing these mistakes, we can discover the most appropriate steps to take in order to achieve your resolution and finally become part of that eight percent.

Be part of the 8 percent who keep their list of resolutions this year. Photo by Quan Siler
Be part of the 8 percent who keep their list of resolutions this year. Photo by Quan Siler
  • Aiming too high

It is very important to have realistic expectations. This means creating goals that are physically possible for your body. Aiming to drop more than two pounds a week is not only harmful to your body, but nearly impossible unless you are morbidly obese. Chiseled abdominals or bulging biceps can take years to achieve, so hoping to reach these results by Spring Break is a waste of time.

The more realistic your goals are, the more likely you are to reach them.

  • Doing too much, too soon

If you have not ran sprints since high school, I don’t advise you to go sprinting on the first of day of January. Plenty of exercise-related injuries occur during the first part of a new year because people, with a fitness resolution in mind, push their bodies to do more than it’s capable of at the time.

The longer you go without exercising different muscles groups, including your heart and lungs, the weaker they become. You must determine the fitness level you are at currently and adhere to an exercise program that is the right fit for you.

  • Being too radical

One of the most common dieting mistakes is cutting your intake (calories, carbohydrates, ect.) to a level that is not sufficient for human survival.  Proclaiming “I will only eat 1000 calories a day this New Year” or “I am cutting carbs out completely until summer” is extremely unhealthy, not sustainable and a recipe for failure.

Quitting anything cold turkey, such as smoking, eating meat or having sugar, is also a radical way to achieve your goals. Instead of such extreme measures, you should make gradual changes.

For example: are you a carnivore that wants to begin living a vegetarian lifestyle? Slowly cut your meals containing meat to once a day for a month, then once a week for a month. Finally take away meat entirely.

  • Not having the right resources

If you are a person who is more motivated when you are in a gym setting, but have no gym in your area, you may a have a problem reaching your New Year goals. If you are a person who wants to change your eating habits, but do not know what foods heal or hurt your body, then you may also have trouble reaching your goals.

It is important to have the resources you need to succeed. Nutrition and healthy recipe books, pamphlets from your doctor, and blogs can help the uninformed dieter. The internet and local newspapers can alert the eager exerciser of fitness centers or sports clubs that are near.

  • Not having support

Dedicating yourself to a new lifestyle change can be a real challenge if your significant other, family, roommates or friends are still living your old lifestyle. In order to maintain the motivation to change, you must surround yourself with supportive people.

Controlling yourself may not be a problem, but controlling others is not possible and should not even be attempted. A great way to find support is creating a “New Year’s Resolution” challenge group with all you friends, family, roommates or co-workers in which everyone is striving for a common goal such as weight loss, training for a 5k or limiting caffeinated drinks. Competition is a good way to find motivation as well as support.

  • Giving up too easily

As a toddler, you fell countless times before you learned how to walk. The same idea applies to goals and resolutions.

You are a beginner at running, eating vegan, enjoying weekends without drinking or whatever your resolution may be. So you are going to trip and fall. You are going to accidentally overindulge. You are going to break you resolution multiple times throughout the year.

The key is to acknowledge this fact, plan for overcoming “a little bump in the road,” and getting right back on track. Giving up too easily is the main reason the 92 percent exists.

  • Not Acknowledging every achievement

There is no harsher critic of yourself than yourself. It is easy to analyze your progress and only see the negative things.

Say it is March and you are supposed to be down fifteen pounds, but you have only lost nine. You could beat yourself up for not meeting you weight loss goal. You could say cruel words to yourself, restrict your calories to a dangerous level or deny yourself any fun activities until you succeed, but that is only going to be destructive to your progress.

Or you could find something that weighs nine pounds, pick it up, and realize the true amount of weight that you lost. You should also notice how clear your skin has become or how better you are sleeping at night. You should acknowledge every personal achievement.

Resolutions are made at the beginning of every year, but how many will actually be kept, followed through and achieved in 2015? Hopefully with this advice on how to plan and avoid obstacles, you can finally keep your resolution to yourself and have a happier and healthier year.

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