According to new research, approximately 80 per cent of us will abandon our new year’s resolution by the time February rolls around. Needless to say, there are numerous benefits to a stronger resolve — your best-ever body being just one. Below, we teach you how to make a good habit stick for life.
You want to know why you’re not losing weight? It’s because you set your goal as “lose weight”, which is like going into a supermarket and asking for “food”. Where do you start? What if you build muscle, which is heavier than flab?
Instead, break that down into a numerical goal. According to a study from the University of Michigan, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound are easier to stick to – in short, you need to work SMART. Instead of “lose weight”, plump for “losing 10% of your body fat in 8 months.”
Even with the numbers behind you, one of the reasons big goals fail is that they’re too big – so break it down.
To take the 10% fat loss as an example, break that 8 month time frame into smaller increments. Shoot for 2.5% body fat lost in bimonthly stepping stones. It takes approximately 66 days to form a habit according to the European Journal of Social Psychology, so keep an eye on your early progress and watch that flab wither away.
The Social Network
The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found a massive 42% increase in sustained weight loss amongst those that used a support network to help them lose weight.
The easiest way to keep yourself accountable is to get by with a little help from your friends. Do this by bothering your mates and family about your goals and asking them to check in with you. The more people you tell, the bigger the fear of failure you’ve got – and the bigger support network you’re able to rely on if things go wrong.
Resolving to eating low-cal high-protein food every day is fine until your birthday comes round the corner, but breaking a resolution once doesn’t have to mean the end of the road.
New York University’s professor of Psychology Peter Gollwitzer advises a few contingency plans consisting of “if-then” protocols. If you break your diet during an evening out, go and enjoy yourself – then start the next day with a demanding HIIT session. Generally, sticking to basic nutritional principles rather than rigid diets allows you to relax once in a blue moon while staying in sight of your goals.
Enjoy the little things
If your chest-and-deads routine is getting stale, take a new perspective. A study from the University of Michigan found that focusing on immediate rewards rather than the overall goals encouraged people to stick with it. Those that saw exercise as key to improving their daily quality of life were 34% more likely to stick with their routines than those who focused only on goals such as weight loss.
But if you’re the sort of man that needs dragging to the gym, there’s another psychological trick to help you. The journal American Psychologist looks at the technique of “bundling choices”, or grouping activities together to get you to do the less desirable of the two. Watching your favourite TV show ONLY on days you’ve been to the gym may give you more impetus to get off your backside.
Good luck! We believe in you.