Newsflash! 2019 is over, people can finally get around to making all those changes they’ve been intending to make. Now that the dialogue transitions from complaining to actually doing something, how do you stick to your guns and make it happen? Surely, someone reading now can think back to last New Year’s and remember what it was they swore off. How’d that go? What was the apple that tumbled the cart?

Why can’t people seem to get out of their own way?

A goal must have some weight to it, some meaning, or higher impact than just being healthier. A goal without any meaning will leave an easy out without moral consequence. If you dream of the mountains, the beauty, and the fresh alpine air, why not make it a goal to conquer such hikes? This goal lays out a trail of consequential lifestyle adjustments to get there. Our theoretical hiker must maintain a slim bodyweight, keep their legs and lungs very strong, and they ought to find friends who will enjoy the endeavors with them. The third aspect will be the details required: gym workouts, three per week; daily walks; weekend hikes; whole, unprocessed nutrition.

Now that you have your plan in order, the next move will be making those changes stick. What’s your exercise history? If you haven’t been to the gym in a long, long time there is little sense in going into a program with hair-on-fire intensity, or gigantic volume (total gym work per session). The same goes for diet. A person who might enjoy a daily pastry, eating burgers and fries, and a few beers will not be successful going 100 percent into salads and meal-replacement shakes. Changes ought to begin one small step above where you currently are progressing along with success.

How does one set up success? The environment we exist in will predict a lot of health outcomes. Say a person is eating out with friends when the waiter approaches at the end of the meal and asks about dessert. The peer pressure is on. If everyone else is getting dessert, why the heck not?

The company one keeps is also an interesting factor. Close friends and relatives have a big impact. What ends up at the table at family dinners often is not the healthiest. Interestingly, proximity to the gym or access to recreation also plays a role. A person who drives by a gym on their way home will at least have the subliminal cue that they ought to exercise. On a smaller level, the personal environment matters. A kitchen clean-out, a new wardrobe of fitness clothes, and cues around the home or work will give a boost to the subconscious.

Seek out support. Humans are tribal, they want to belong to something; energy is cultivated upon the “we’re all in this together” mindset. Find a group of people who are interested in the same activity, the same goals, or who will encourage you. This is why diets, group exercise phenomena, and multilevel marketing work so well.

Now a month has passed, our goalsetter has successfully kept on track. But it’s starting to slip; the once-attainable 6 a.m. workouts are getting harder. Treats and nights begin to intrude. What does one do? Construct a new platform by changing things up. Start a new workout, try new foods, get in a new route for the nightly walk. The novelty effect is huge. Also, be cautious of how success is measured. If weight is measured, are pounds the only metric? Better not drink any fluids before weigh-ins. Salt, alcohol, and carbohydrates will all alter the scale. Consider measurements, or get a body-fat test. Make sure that what is being measured or tracked actually matters.

What is being measured also needs to adjust along the way. Once a person gets 5,000 steps a day for several weeks they ought to try for more. A reason why people drop out of their fitness quest is because it gets boring; they forget that to continue there needs to be progression.

Let’s boil it down:

•?Make the goal matter, it needs meaning and purpose.

•?Start basic, establish progressions, keep things challenging along the way.

•?Make the environment match the goal. Friends, family, and others can help support.

•?The goal will get boring; change it up and make it interesting again.

•?What is measured ought to matter: weight, steps, pounds lifted need to be meaningful.

Don’t fall into the trap of making an arbitrary goal because losing weight and exercise is healthy. Make it meaningful and don’t go overboard. Remember, it takes time to create the persona one lives in. Constant progression is key. Best of luck to all the fitness and health endeavors for the new year.