- By Mary Caldwell For the AJC
Many people make fitness-related New Year's resolutions, only to see them fall by the wayside. It's why gyms are packed in January, but back to normal by April.
How can you keep the momentum going throughout the year to achieve your goal of better health and/or weight loss?
These five tips will help you stick to your New Year's fitness resolutions:
Make one change at a time
It's easy to start off the New Year full of energy and grand plans, but starting small will give you a greater chance of success, according to the Mayo Clinic. Instead of planning an unrealistic workout schedule, aim for three days a week. Rather than swearing off all your favorite unhealthy treats, vow to limit them to a day or two a week.
As you succeed with smaller steps, these habits will soon become a routine that you can build on as you add new goals.
Don't go it alone
CNN cites a study that showed social interaction makes people more likely to work out. Instead of going it alone, sign up for a fitness class, join a local running club, walk with a friend during lunch or hire a personal trainer. The social aspect will help keep you going, and you'll be less likely to bail on your plans to exercise.
Even if you don't have people to work out with, a virtual fitness community like those you can create with a FitBit can help you keep on track.
Make it fun
Exercise doesn't have to be drudgery, positive psychology researcher Michelle Gielan told WebMD. Find a way to get fit that also lets you have fun, such as a dance class or other type of exercise that makes you feel happy. If you don't dread it, you'll be more likely to keep going.
Keep a food diary
Losing weight is a popular New Year's resolution. While no one strategy works for everyone, a food diary can be a helpful part of your success. Otherwise, it's easy to underestimate just how much you're eating, forgetting about that vending machine candy bar at work or the snack you had while watching TV.
Don't be too hard on yourself
It's unrealistic to think that you'll be perfect as you strive to attain your exercise or healthy eating goals, the American Psychological Association says.
Accept that you're going to have some ups and downs, and realize that what's important is getting back on track. Otherwise, a missed workout or two can derail you for the rest of the year.