How many times have you promised yourself that “this is the year you finally ~insert healthy New Year’s resolutions here~, only to flake on those goals by mid-month? It’s easy to say you’re going to make better-for-you choices; it’s a lot harder to actually follow through with them when life gets in the way.
But New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be some life-altering, grand-standing declaration. Saying, for example, that you’re going to run five miles every day when you’ve run three a week until now is a surefire way to set yourself up for disappointment. Small, subtle tweaks are way more likely to stick, because you’re actually able to accomplish them day after day.
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If you’re looking for inspiration for New Year’s resolutions that feel more attainable than broad goals like “get stronger” or “eat healthier,” follow these trainers’ leads. (And, for the record, it doesn’t need to be a new year to make these kinds of resolutions. You could make them at the start of a month, any given Sunday, or in the middle of the week when you need a reset!)
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1. Sign up for a race or event
“Setting New Year’s resolutions like ‘run the sprint triathlon on April 5’ helps because you have a specific date you’re trying to achieve something on. It’s a SMART goal: specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic. Physical challenges like races or a fitness event help with your overall well-being, health, and fitness goals because to train or to be successful at the event you need to change your diet and exercise plan. Doing this will help attack some of those underlying goals you’re trying to achieve, but it’s more fun and gives you something else to think about other than diet.” — Marie Urban, ACSM-certified fitness specialist and regional group training coordinator for Life Time
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2. Prep, prep, prep!
“Meal prepping is quick and easy, yet it has a huge impact on your decisions regarding food moving forward. Instead of being tempted to buy or opt for something unhealthy when hunger hits, you’ll feel more obligated to eat the food you already spent your time and money on. And as you start to feel better physically, you’ll get more and more invested in sticking to your prep plans—which makes it an easy resolution to stick to.” — Jim Economos, ACE-certified trainer and running coach at Formula Running Center
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3. Don’t just work vanity muscles
Looking good is great, but if you’re only working specific groups of muscles to make you look better, you’re ignoring other groups and potentially increasing your risk of injury. Guys tend to focus on the “beach muscles”—the chest, biceps, shoulders, and abs—and generally skip their legs and backside. But if we neglect our legs and posterior chain (like the back, lats, glutes, and hips), muscles can get overstretched and underworked and it can lead to a host of problems like knee issues, back problems, and weak glutes. In order to really get stronger, you need to work these, too.” — Joey Thurman, CSCS, MYXfitness coach
4. Meditate for 10 minutes a day
“I like starting my day with a short meditation, but you can reset at lunchtime or wind down before bed. This resolution will deliver the greatest bang for your buck because even five minutes, if done consistently, will have a tremendous impact on your life. If you’re new to meditating, there are plenty of apps, like Headspace and Calm, that make it super easy and will even send you reminders—so no excuses!” — Nadav Ben-Chanoch, NASM-certified personal trainer and co-founder of Rowgatta in New York, NY
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5. Find an accountability buddy
“It’s easier to be successful with training goals when you have someone holding you accountable. Find a friend, coworker, or someone with a similar fitness goal. Tell each other your New Year’s resolutions and why that’s your goal, then hold each accountable to that goal. For those who find it hard to motivate themselves, having someone there to keep you on track or someone you don’t want to let down always helps. It’s easy to say ‘I’m tired, I wont go to the gym today,’ but it’s a lot harder to bail when you know someone is at the gym waiting for you.” — Rashaad Slowley, NASM-certified trainer at Performix House in New York, NY
6. Hold a low plank for 30 seconds a day
“This may not seem like a challenging task (or maybe it does!), but properly strengthening your core muscles has way more benefits than one might think. For starters, it’ll improve your posture and help to avoid low back pain caused by a weak musculature. Plus, it will strengthen the shoulders, quadriceps, and even the glutes if all your muscles are engaged correctly—which takes unnecessary pressure off of the hips and decreases your risk of injury.” —Lesley Bell, a NASM-certified personal trainer at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA
7. Dedicate 15 minutes 4 times per week to flexibility and mobility
“This type of practice—which includes foam rolling and muscle/fascia release work, active stretching, and muscle activation exercises—is extremely important when it comes to decreasing pain, preventing injury, and feeling and performing at your best. Think of it as maintenance you’re performing on your body. Most of the injuries that I see in my clinic could have been prevented by proactively making sure that all of your joints and muscles move well.” — Grayson Wickham, certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of Movement Vault
8. Spend one minute every day reflecting
“Put a notebook beside your bed and write one sentence daily before you fall asleep that you believe captures the high point of the day (one sentence only—keep it simple so you’ll stick with it!). We often look for monumental moments as proof that our lives are moving forward, but this can lead to us missing the real journey, which occurs an inch at a time. Decide that you’ll celebrate your ‘daily inch’ and watch how quickly you’ll propel your life forward.” — Amanda McVey, ACE-certified personal trainer at Upgrade Labs in Los Angeles, CA
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9. Get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night
“Sleep does so many good things for us—if we get enough of it! It’s when we heal, it’s when we digest, it’s part of the process of learning and remembering things. It also plays a vital role in hormone regulation and immunity. If we get inadequate amounts of sleep, it can lead to weight gain and even obesity. Research has shown that increasing your sleep to between seven and eight hours actually reduces the amount of the dangerous fat that sits around your organs, known as visceral fat. This, in turn, helps to combat other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular complications and even some cancers.” — Bell
10. Do 5 minutes of burpees every day
“Even if you only move 10 minutes each day, getting your heart rate up will not only improve your cardiovascular fitness but also your mood. I always tell folks who ‘don’t have time to work out’ to try doing five minutes of burpees each day. See how many you can get on day one, then try to get one more burpee in that five-minute window on day two, and so on. Since it’s only five minutes, you can really push yourself—and you should be out of breath by the end, having just completed a high-intensity, full-body workout!” — Ben-Chanoch
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