Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 3, 2013

How to make your New Year's resolution stick

On Fitness
The Andover Townsman

---- — Question: What would be a news year’s resolution you can stick with?

Expert: Lisa Swanson

Fitness Together owner

ACE certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and AASDN nutrition specialist


Year after year health clubs fill up come Jan. 2. Everyone starts off with the best intentions to finally get the weight off and keep it off. “This is the year I’ll really make it happen.”

We all know what happens a few weeks later. Either you started off with two hours a day and can’t keep it going at that pace, you are continuing to go but absolutely nothing is happening, or you are frustrated because the goals you set are simply unrealistic.

The golden rule of setting goals is to keep it S.M.A.R.T. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. To reach your goal you need to know specifically what it is you are aiming for. For instance, if you say you want to lose weight, that doesn’t really give you anything to reach for. Instead, choose a specific weight; “I want to lose 10 pounds” gives you a certain number to reach for which makes it much more likely that you will succeed.

Next the goal needs to be measurable. When it comes to weight loss, that’s easy. Step on a scale to get your starting weight and track it weekly to make sure you are heading in the right direction. If not, you need to change things up. If you goal is to improve your time for your next 5K, come up with a specific number of minutes you want to improve by, and time your runs weekly as you train for this goal.

Attainable is the next factor figured into the equation. An attainable goal should be one that challenges you, pushing just outside your comfort zone. Setting a goal that is too easy, will not drive you to move forward nor give you the satisfaction of completing. Along with attainable, make the goal realistic. In other words, you may set an attainable goal to lose 25 pounds, but is it realistic to reach that goal in two weeks?

Lastly, make it time-based. You need to have a specific date set for reaching your goal. This will help you to stay focused. As we all know it is very easy to put things off until tomorrow, especially when it comes to fitness. Set a date and hold yourself to it. You may want to share your smart goal with a friend, family member or trainer. Having someone else who can hold you accountable can be the difference between succeeding and trying again next year.

Expert: Art McDermott

Owner, Matrix Strength & Fitness

Answer: This is a highly individual answer, but as a rule – I start small. The vast majority of resolutions go by the wayside within the first few weeks. However, if you start with only one small change and can maintain this change for 21 days, your chances of success greatly increase.

Studies show that if you stick with a new habit past this 21-day period, it then becomes something you just do, rather than something you are forced to do.

These small changes over time have a massive impact on results. In addition, remember that success breeds success. Imagine a the changes that can take place by stringing together a series of small successes. Don’t try to change the world overnight. You are setting yourself up for failure. Start small and succeed, then build on this a little bit at a time.