How to Jump-start Your New Year’s Fitness

Hit the new year running and kick off 2021 exactly how you want. Here's how to make your fitness resolution...and keep it!

It’s time for the resolutions to start rolling out, again. If you have fitness goals you want to achieve in the new year, it’s important to tackle the science of forming a new habit and choosing a workout that works for you.

Looking ahead to 2021, you owe it to yourself to achieve the health and happiness you deserve. You’ll hear a lot of tips about how to keep a new year’s resolution, but none of them are tailored to you (that’s a problem). To find what works for you and to make it stick, there are two steps: do what you like and outsmart your habits.

We’re not here to tell you what you should do, we’re here to help you do what’s right for you. The probability of success increases when you actually like what you’re doing, so that’s why it’s critical that your workout is for you—that is, not to achieve an unrealistic standard or set an unrealistic goal. There’s no need to put your body through grueling workouts to get fit, because if you hate the workout you’ll eventually quit. In a study by The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, scientists found after studying exercise motivation and the self-determination theory (SDT) in 66 people: “The results show consistent support for a positive relation between more autonomous forms of motivation and exercise, with a trend towards identified regulation predicting initial/short-term adoption more strongly than intrinsic motivation, and intrinsic motivation being more predictive of long-term exercise adherence. The literature is also consistent in that competence satisfaction and more intrinsic motives positively predict exercise participation across a range of samples and settings.” In other words, for long-term success, it’s important to have that internal motivation factor. The second component is doing what fits the individual. So, if you’re genuinely motivated to workout and you’re doing something you like, the likelihood that you’ll succeed in sticking with it increases.

Photo courtesy of Otium Savannah

For the second piece: sticking with it. Even if we genuinely like what we’re doing, self-motivation isn’t infallible. That’s where setting good habits comes into play. You may have heard it takes 18 days, or 21 days, or 32 days, or 60 or 90 days to form a new habit. While it can be helpful to set that type of goal, it’s not getting to the root of habit-forming psychology. To do this, you have to disrupt the stimulus-response chain you’re seeking to break.

Here are some tips to disrupt undesirable habits and form new ones in their place:

  1. Small and specific actions form the fastest habits
  2. Physical action is the easiest to convert into a habit
  3. Making that action easy facilitates habit formation
  4. It’s easier to create and keep habits based on visual or auditory cues

Obviously, it’s all easier said than done, but hopefully these tips make it easier to do. If you need more of a psychology breakdown, this article by Psychology Today includes the full explanation and examples.

Now, for the fun part: browsing new workouts! See a breakdown of each workout and check out our full “Quest for Fitness” piece here. View the gallery for great local options to try:

For more health and wellness tips, view our December/January 2020-21 digital issue here or purchase a copy online on in-person.