With Christmas behind us and the realisation we may have overindulged in one too many holiday treats, the time for those New Year’s resolutions has kicked in.
But, while you vow to stick to your health and fitness goals, there’s just one problem — research and experts say most of us will have a hard time keeping to our January resolutions and quit before we’ve barely started.
Yes, sure the pandemic has played a huge role with some of our beloved gyms being forced to shut down or having restricted numbers, but home-workouts have never become more popular.
Research conducted by fitness platform Strava has predicted Tuesday, January 19 as the fateful day of most 2021 New Year’s resolutions.
They call it “Quitters Day” after having analysed more than 822 million online global activities from 2019.
Michelle Furniss, a qualified personal trainer and Australia/New Zealand’s chief commercial officer for fitness technology company TSG said the pandemic simply threw ‘routine’ out the door.
“For those who were just getting started on their fitness journey, the forced closure of workout spaces impacted their morale and motivation, and so naturally, we saw a huge decline in fitness memberships,” Ms Furniss told news.com.au
“While many people did a great job at adapting to a home-based workout, I’m sure many of us used last year as a bit of a free pass, and put on a COVID kilo or two.”
She said part of the problem, however, when it comes to “quitting” overall fitness goals comes down to setting unrealistic goals.
“Many people go gung-ho in the New Year and expect to see instant results, which just isn’t realistic or sustainable,” Ms Furniss told news.com.au
“Similarly, people are too focused on their physical appearance and forget that fitness plays a much more holistic role in overall wellbeing, so just because you might not ‘see’ the results, doesn’t mean you’re not reaping the benefits such as increased energy and improving your mental health.”
In its latest report, Strava stated that one of the ways to keep resolutions afloat was to aim for three activities a week, instead of two, adding that you’re more likely to be consistent.
Former NRL player Ben Lucas, who now runs multimillion-dollar fitness empire Flow Athletic ,said he too has noticed a drop in membership around this time of year.
“I think it is because most people feel bad about themselves after Christmas/ new year because of all they have consumed and they feel heavy,” he told news.com.au
“They then set crazy goals with an all or nothing approach, only to find that they are still socialising in January and not turning up to the gym as much. They consider it a fail and give up.”
He said it is the reason they encourage members to regularly set new goals.
Mr Lucas agreed that while unrealistic goals play a huge part in people “quitting” on January 19, it’s also unrealistic timelines.
“Instead of having a crazy weight loss goal straight off the bat, try a three to four week health kick to help you create the healthy habits that you need to achieve a goal, and set a goal after that with realistic milestones that you need to hit,” he said.
According to Mr Lucas resolving to “exercise more” or “lose weight” are easy ways to set yourself up for failure, as they lack ways to mark progress and keep you motivated.
“If you are just saying to yourself that you don’t like your body and need to lose xx kilos, it is not very motivating,” he told news.com.au
“Instead have a goal around how many days you want to work out, or better still a performance related goal.”
According to Fitness Australia, at the height of the pandemic 70 per cent of fitness businesses reported a 100 per cent decline in memberships.
“At TSG, we’ve seen a roughly a 0.28% decline in new memberships for 25 to 44 year olds for January 2021 compared to 2020, which doesn’t sound like much,” Ms Furniss said.
“But in real terms it means there are approximately 50,400 less people joining or sticking to their membership in January.”
She said her number one piece of advice is to “find the fun”.
“Know it sounds like a cliche, but there are so many fitness classes and experiences to choose from, and there truly is something for everyone.
“Find an activity that you truly enjoy and you won’t even feel like you are working out — better still, ask a friend or partner to tag along. That way, they can keep you accountable.”
She reiterated to set small, realistic goals.
“You can’t expect to look like JLo after one spin class — though I wish we all could.”
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Sydney-based psychologist Tara Hurster specialises in helping people break unhealthy behaviours patterns and addiction.
She told recently news.com.au it wasn’t surprising that most New Year resolutions lasted less than a fortnight.
“From a psychology perspective it’s actually much more helpful to have intrinsic motivation, which means motivation on the inside,” Ms Hurster said.
“If we do have intrinsic motivation then waiting for a specific date isn’t really that helpful, it’s more helpful to make the change now.”
Here’s her top three tips:
WORK OUT WHY YOU WANT TO MAKE CHANGES
“Understand why they want to do it because if your motivation is fleeting or it’s more superficial then it’s not going to be as lasting. Or if the motivation is because someone else told you to or for someone else,” Ms Hurster said.
“(You should be) understanding and really drilling down into the reasons why you want to make the changes and then focusing on those reasons more than the change itself.”
‘WHAT AM I GOING TO DO INSTEAD?’
For those hoping to break unhealthy habits such as overeating or binge drinking, focusing too much on what not to do can be harmful.
“Basically, wherever your eyes are looking your body will follow,” Ms Hurster explained. “So if you’re telling yourself ‘I’m not going to drink, I’m not going to drink’, you’re still focusing on drinking, even though it’s the not.
“The brain doesn’t really hear the don’t part, it just hears the subject, so if I’m focusing on I’m not going to drink you’ll end up at the bar.”
Instead, Ms Hurster advises people to focus on alternative activities.
DON’T HESITATE TO GET HELP
“Having support and doing therapy – even with regard to health things, gym related or weight related – I strongly, strongly encourage doing therapy,” Ms Hurster said.
“It will help you to understand the underlying reasons why you are doing these behaviours because basically everything is reactive – eating, sex, gambling, drugs, alcohol.