How often have we made New Year resolution that we fail to follow through? Most resolutions hover on fitness and health and it has been so year in year out.
The futility of New Year resolution is deplorable. Statistics have revealed that a mere 8 percent of Americans are successful on achieving their resolution.
It has been reported that the most tweets for 2016 New Year resolution was "get in shape", followed by “eat healthier” and “be a better person”.
Interestingly, in a survey on 5000 Americans conducted by GoBankingRates on the most popular New Year’s resolutions for 2016, topping the list with 46% of the respondents is "enjoy life to the fullest". The next popular choice is “live a healthier lifestyle” and “lose weight”, being the third.
I wonder if there has been a study done on how many times one has made the same resolution more than once, twice or even three times?
The New Year was my fresh start moment. Like almost everybody, I made a resolution to be fit and healthy by making a conscious effort in eating the right foods and regular exercise.
The thing is exercise ought to be a habit, a routine that is as essential as brushing my teeth daily. It shouldn’t be a goal anymore. There are bigger things that are far more exciting to aim for.
Resolutions are promises not meant to be broken.
Let me share with you 10 proven ways that have worked for me.
Get A Shout Out
My nephew’s wedding has been planned for September this year. And I’ve been told that it’s going to be one grand celebration, with relatives and friends congregating on this beautiful exclusive resort destination in Bali.
The first thing that came to mind: what would I wear?
Can I still get into the fitting wine-red sleeveless dress that has been hidden in the far corner of my closet? Could even Spanx do its magic?
What better time to get lighter and leaner? I belief I have enough time to work on it. I made this known to 5 people. Four of them cheered me on. The fifth bet against the odds that I’ll succeed.
There is no way I’m going to shame myself for not keeping to my words. What’s more? There is money on the table!
Once Put On Paper Is Considered A Done Deal
I have the daily habit of setting up my schedule for the day the second thing in the morning, after my daily meditation at the break of dawn.
I am one of those who love to mark a big fat red tick against the items on the ‘to do list’. There are 2 categories. The primary list that requires 100% checks and the secondary list that would be nice to do if time permits.
Exercising is definitely on the core list. As an added step to prevent myself from slipping the appointment I made with myself, I set the alarm on my iPhone. It never fails to alert me on time.
Killing Two Birds With One Stone
Most people start the day with exercise. It gets their body energized and set the mind alert for a fresh new day.
I used to schedule the exercise in the mornings too. But somehow, it doesn’t quite flow with the rest of my other daily activities. I have since rescheduled it to the evenings. 30 minutes work out, shower and all clean to snuggle in between the clean sheets to have a good night sleep.
Taking a cue from Katherine Milkman’s Temptation Bundling strategy, I watch my favourite TV drama series at the same time on the little TV screen attached on the gym equipment. The twists in the plot and the intoxicating suspense make these good drama series so addictive. Basically, I am pairing up an activity that requires some effort to initiate with a temptation that is hard to resist.
If only I could be so dedicated to my exercise without any dangling carrot...
Family Who Exercise Together Stays Together
My teenage daughter and I are in everyway different from each other as far as fitness preference is concerned.
We do different things, at different levels and in every way differently.
She likes the slow pace yoga with deep stretches and contorted pose. She even took up the 30 day yoga bootcamp with Adrienne. I prefer steady and consistent pace movement like very light cardio exercise on the elliptical trainer or stationary cycling in the gym.
She likes to jog outdoors in the open, geared with fitness tracker and headsets. I prefer to exercise in a familiar environment that is good for rain and shine.
Though we don’t do the same exercise together, we make a choice to exercise during the same 30-minute time slot daily. That helps to keep each other on our fitness commitments.
The Misfit Shine fitness tracker may not have raving reviews, but it works perfectly for her. She wears her fitness tracker to keep her on point to the targets she sets on her mapped out timeline. You should see how her face lights up when she sees encouraging messages on her app when she hits her target. I would be happy too if I see words like “take a victory lap, or a nap, if you’d like” flashed across my screen.
Someone suggested that I should get a direct fitness buddy to run alongside. Well, I agree that would be ideal. But until I find a fitness partner who shares the same sports preference, fitness level and time schedule, I’ll stick to my lovely daughter. Besides, what better way to teach a child to stick to a commitment than to lead by example. I just have to walk my talk.
I recall an art class that I used to attend. There were about 20 students. Within this big class, there were sub-groups of 3s or 4s. Most probably they were friends who signed up together. When one member of the sub-group stopped coming for class, the buddies would soon drop out too. At the end of the term, the rest of us who completed the course would be those who came in individually.
So this begs the question, is it really necessary to have a buddy? When one slackens, it is not surprising that the other will be demoralized too.
Have you ever talked to someone who really, truly listens? Who is not overly eager to give her two cents worth of advise or say “I told you so”?
I have met two full-time mothers many years ago at my daughter’s kindergarten. We share our experiences on bringing up children, joys and frustrations as full time mothers and other stuff. You can call it a mini support group.
What makes our threesome unique is that we provide one another a sounding board, without being judgmental. There is no “you should do this or that” or “ why or why not”. It’s a sounding board that echoes the affirmation of my goals and directions to take to reach that goal.
I call them my cheerleaders. Just as I am cheering M on her new noble project in setting up a platform to help women running cottage businesses in the rural regions in Asia showcase their crafts and wares, or S in her early childhood development program, they are supporting me in my simple dedication to advocate home cooking for better health.
I could resonate with a post by Anna Almendrala, in which she talked about garnering the support of friends to help us stick to our goals. One important point that she highlighted was to keep the talk non-personal.
That is indeed true. A challenging but do-able conscious effort to draw the line between being an encouragement listener and friends in casual conversations that is often endless and opinionated.
Get Inspired With Quotes And Mantras
I love the Google Chrome browser theme, Momentum, reminding me what my focus is for the day with daily quote at the base, and a stunning image as the backdrop.
My daughter and I have compiled a coloring and inspiration mantra folio. I would choose a mantra for the week, color it and upload it on my mobile phone and desktop.
Consistency Is The Key
30 minutes for exercise daily. Very light cardio exercise like treadmill run, elliptical trainer or stationary cycling in the gym. Easy peasy, isn’t it?
And yet, I am tempted to slacken on some days. Sometimes I tell myself, “I’ll just do 5 today”. But once I start, I’ll just continue till I could feel the sweat trickle down my neck. And before I knew it, 30 minutes is up.
It could be 20 minutes, 10 or even 5, just don’t break the momentum. Just show up.
Start With Small Step
As I become consistent and make exercise a daily habit, my stamina and strength has increased. Not that I make any concerted effort to measure my progress, I just could feel the marked difference in my mental alertness and energy level. This makes me want to raise the bar a bit more. A 20 minute high intensity routine would be a nice progression.
It is just like building a passion around work. As we work on a task repeatedly, we get better at it. We feel good and would do more to be even better.
The important thing is take the first step to begin. There is really no better time than now.
The Why. What’s The Core Drive?
Like most people, I want to enjoy life in the best way I can, spiced up with adventures and accomplishments and peppered with happiness, joy and excitement.
How can we possibly enjoy the richness that life can offer in the absence of good health?
I have witnessed first hand how diabetes could transform a close friend’s mom, a bubbly and energetic woman who once could scale the Great Wall of China to a patient confined in a wheelchair, or how a loved one, a workaholic who worked to the top wrung of the corporate ladder at the expense of his health.
I wish to be around for my loved ones for a good many more years, without having to burden them both financially and emotionally, with poor health. And let’s not ignore the rising cost in health care.
Someone once said, you have to care for yourself first before you can help others. That reminds me of the inflight safety demonstration that reiterates that we secure our oxygen mask on first before assisting a child or someone else who requires assistance in the event of air decompression.
And that makes sense.
To summarise, the 10 proven steps that broke loose the shackles of procrastination and got me back on track with my fitness are:
1. Make your goal known to others so that you will be accountable to make it happen
2. Make the time, put it down on your schedule and stick to the promise that you make to yourself.
3. Bundle with a favourite activity like jogging while listening to an audio book or podcast; or exercise in front of a TV
4. Pair up with a fitness buddy, be it direct or indirect, to be motivated.
5. Track your progress with fitness gadgets and apps
6. Stay positive with group support
7. Surround yourself with mantras and motivational quotes
8. Be consistent and do not stop. Just show up.
9. Begin with small step. There is no better time to start than now.
10. Give yourself a really good reason to be fit and healthy. If you cannot find a good enough reason to start a healthy life, then you may want to ask, why not?
Let’s not sleepwalk through life. Be healthy and enjoy life to the fullest.
Break loose the shackles of procrastination. Get it done today!
What are your resolutions for the year?
Kudos to you if you have stuck to them. Tell us how.
If not, share with us your story.
Write your comments below or send me an email. I appreciate and read every one.
She loves food - all food especially spicy authentic Asian dishes. She sometimes wonders if she eats to live or lives to eat.
As much as she is adventurous with food, she also likes to cook. A proponent for home cooking for better health, she believes that it's only when we start to cook that we become more aware of what goes into the food we eat and vigilant of our food portion sizes.
She's a relatively good home-chef and could make a mean Salt Baked Chicken. But she claims that her late mother-in-law was way much better and her only regret is, in her own words,"Darn…I wish I had written down her recipes."
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