New Year's Resolutions Done Right

This year, rather than set unattainable fitness goals, use these tips to make resolutions you can actually accomplish.

New Years 2013

New Year’s balloons photo via Shutterstock

That moment on the couch is just around the corner. You know the one, when you look down at your tummy and see that glimpse of pudge that makes you vow that this will finally be the year you really get in shape.

Here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions: We tend to make them because everyone else is making them too. Yes, we can always improve our lives a bit somewhere, but as our mothers always said, “Would you jump off a cliff just because everyone else was doing it?” Well when it comes to fitness, the answer should be yes.

What do you want to accomplish with your resolutions? Looking “hot” might be a lofty goal, so how about losing two inches from your waist or being able to do 10 pushups from your toes? (Can you do 10 pushups now? Go ahead, get on the floor, we’ll wait.) Set realistic and attainable goals so that you’re more likely to actually achieve them.

While you’re at it, make your resolutions short. Something like, “I’m going to work out four times a week all year long” is destined for failure. The wretched February cold, work deadlines, unexpected trips, and so on will surely derail you at some point. Keep the timespan of your goal short, such as, “I’ll do 10 workouts this month.” Now you have scheduling flexibility and an easier goal to strive towards. And when you’re successful, you can always up it to 12 workouts.

A benefit to thinking about fitness resolutions now is that you will beat others to the punch. My Pilates studio sees at least a 20 percent bump in clients every January. People are literally fighting and bargaining with me to get in for sessions, which is silly because I know there will be plenty of availability come March 1st. If you start with a workout or two now, a couple weeks before the New Year, the staff won’t think of you as a “resolutionist” and will take care of you. Plus, you’ll already have your slots booked when the post-New Year’s rush starts.

So here’s how you should imagine yourself on New Year’s Day: Nursing a small hangover at brunch with your friends, saying, “Actually I started working out two weeks ago and I’m already seeing changes in my body.” Just try not to look smug when they all surreptitiously look down at their guts.

—Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson owns Modern Pilates in Coolidge Corner. The Harvard alum has been a personal trainer and Pilates instructor since the late ’90s. She is ranked No. 1 in the world for Pilates social media by Klout. Follow her @lisajohnson and read her personal blog