In early January, when you (and everyone) are convinced this will be the year you actually keep your New Year's resolutions, the gym becomes a terrible place. Especially when you've just gotten used to the peace and quiet that November and December bring. In January, parking spots become hard to find, acquiring a machine requires a strategical plan, and every gym newcomer ultimately becomes your enemy. Don't they realize that you were here first? Eventually, you might even find yourself skipping the gym in favor of working out at home with Jillian Michaels DVDs. And by "working out at home with Jillian Michaels DVDs," I mean eating Fritos.
Thankfully, things start to quiet down in April, and then you suddenly feel guilty for shooting the death glare at someone who was just trying to make a change for the better. "We're truly the same," you think to yourself. "I hope they didn't give up on their New Year's resolution based on me, the girl with the bitch face on the elliptical." It's truly a roller coaster of emotion that happens every single year. We laugh at those with resolutions, yet feel bad when they don't keep them. It's probably similar to how you, yourself, feel about the art of making a solid resolution that you're expected to keep all year.
"What's your resolution this year?" is probably the most-asked question at the New Year's Eve party, next to "Can you watch my drink?" This is the year where you shouldn't laugh it off. This is the year where you'll actually have an answer, and stick with it. Here's how.
1. Be realistic
Saying you want to lose 85 pounds in a year is pretty much setting yourself up for failure. Make your beginning resolutions small and practical. That way, you won't get totally discouraged if it doesn't immediately pan out. With goals like weight loss, it's a slow process if you want to do it the right way. Have patience, and realize that perhaps a better resolution would be to "have a healthier outlook."
2. Make it something fun
One year, my goal was to learn how to walk in high heels convincingly. Another year, I tried really hard to learn a lot about wine. I failed with both of these, but the real point is, find something you've told yourself you had no time to do before. Learn a new craft, or improve on a skill. Ever fawn over a friend's knitting project, and say something similar to "I've always wanted to learn how to knit"? Learn how to knit. Make 2015 your year to flood your apartment with homemade flower headbands.
3. Do your research
Saying something like "I'll eat more greens" doesn't necessarily mean that you have to dig into two pounds of raw spinach for lunch every day. Find creative (and delicious) ways to achieve your food goals. Green smoothies are actually pretty delicious, if you're willing to clean out a blender filled with green slime every day.
4. Involve a buddy
Exercising is way more fun with a buddy, even if it's just the two of you silently on treadmills, independently re-listening to the Serial podcast. Having an accountability buddy will also keep you more on track. If you don't feel like taking a walk, but your best friend needs a way to de-stress after her holiday party turned out to be an awkward airing of grievances, you won't even consider it exercise. Heck, you won't even mind the cold weather. It's simply a way to spend time with your friend while enjoying the great outdoors.
5. Allow room for error
Everyone screws up sometimes. Don't give yourself a hard time if you happen to eat a whole pizza in one night. Just be prepared to feel mega-sick tomorrow morning, and get back on the horse. If your resolution is to quit smoking, realize that this is a goal that requires a lot of time and dedication. Cold turkey doesn't work for everyone, and the will and determination to quit is the hardest part. Don't beat yourself up over slipping up, and don't quit your whole goal over one totally common mistake.
6. Have a schedule
Is your resolution to call your mom more? Good for you. She misses you, and is worried about you. She also doesn't understand Facebook, so she has no idea what your social calendar looks like. Just like you have a schedule at work, you need to make sure to incorporate a routine with your resolutions as well. If Monday is a good day to call, make that the day you catch up with Mom and see how her weekend went. This applies to the gym as well. If your favorite TV show airs Wednesday nights, make sure to hit up the gym on Monday or Tuesday. If you say you'll go Wednesday, you're fooling yourself.
7. Prepare in advance
So, every Friday at 5 p.m., you and your coworkers get smashed at the local bar. It's a great tradition. Sure, you ruin your weekend by feeling like death, but it's a great bonding experience that will be tough to give up. Making your resolution to give up alcohol was stupid, right?
Not at all. Free your weekends up by sipping on something else. Opt for a Diet Coke, and realize that the true bonding experience is based on the friendship, and not on the booze. After all, alcohol should only enhance an already fun time — it shouldn't be the fun time. If your coworkers give you a hard time, don't give into peer pressure. Chances are, they'll have no idea that your soda is rum-free.
8. Have a sense of humor
You want to be serious, but not too serious. Don't create schedules and plans that will allow you zero time to hang out with buddies, or have some alone time. If your goal is to eat better, don't chastise your friend for not following the same regiment as you. Similarly, don't take it to heart if your friend tries to joke about your new healthy habits. If you've previously joked about how stupid the gym is, you might get some light grief once you buy that new sports bra. This shouldn't be a reason to quit your membership, or cut out the people who "don't support you." Shrug it off, tell them you're trying something new, and invite them along for a yoga class.
9. Think about quality
When I first joined a gym, I didn't even opt for the tour. I signed up for a year-long membership since it was cheap. If I decide not to go, hey — it's just $10, right?
In doing this, I already gave myself permission to avoid the gym before I even took the digital photo for my membership card. Even worse, I had no clue what the gym even offered. Going to the gym became a chore, as opposed to something that could have been therapeutic. While it's understandable that a pricier gym might not be in everyone's budget, choose a place you actually feel comfortable with. If your goal is to swim, check out the pool — if they even offer a pool. Also take note of the other members, the crowd, and the locker rooms. Do you feel like you belong? Good. That's what matters.
10. Reward yourself
Some resolutions have an end goal that's out of eye's reach. In the meantime, stay motivated by treating yourself with mini-rewards during the process. Is your goal to save up more money throughout the year? Make it visible. Buy yourself a cheap coin-counting bank, and make sure all loose change finds a home there by the end of the day. At the end of the month, empty it out and split it up. Consider spending 50 percent on something you want, and putting 50 percent into savings. Sure, it might not seem like a lot, but it can add up pretty quickly.
The same goes with food. If you've been eating salads for a week but have been craving hot dogs for days, give yourself a day to indulge. Eating healthy at home for five days straight means that you're allowed one of those Costco jumbo-dogs after you buy your lifetime supply of toilet paper. It's not a setback, it's a reward for a job well done.
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