At the beginning of the year everybody is extremely motivated and eager to change at least some aspect of their lives, and/or their bodies, and as the calendar ticks over to a new year many feel it’s an opportunity to start with a clean slate.
We all want to believe that the 12 months that lie ahead will be the year that we do things differently, and finally achieve our goals.
And according to a University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, that goal is often to lose weight, which is consistently ranked as the number one New Year’s resolution.
However, studies confirm that fewer than half of the people who resolve to lose weight will still be on track six months later.
The question then is; if we keep on failing at New Year’s resolutions, why do we keep making them? I believe that we all want to be better. We all have a deep-seated desire to improve, which is the main reason why we feel good about ourselves if we start the year with a New Year’s resolution, no matter how unrealistic it may be. New Year’s resolutions give us hope; hope that ‘this’ year will be different; hope that we will finally reach our goals.
While the intention to change is honourable and not without at least some merit, there are three main reasons why most New Year’s resolutions don’t work.
#1. Outcomes vs. actions
People want to change their lifestyle, but they’re often too focused on the outcomes of their daily actions. We tend to be overly concerned with this outcome-based approach; we want to lose 5kg in two months, or we want to fit into a number 10 dress in three weeks. Can we really control the pace of our fat loss? Do we really have control of the number on the scale?
The only thing we can control are our daily actions; what we eat, our training, how we handle our stress, and whether we sleep enough.
We should always remember that we have complete control over our daily actions, and that it is our daily actions that determine the outcomes.
We should therefore focus on the things that we can control (our actions), rather than the things that are completely out of our control (the outcome).
#2: The wrong reasons
Many women start out on a fat-loss journey for the wrong reasons, and with the wrong expectations. This is problematic because when they eventually lose the weight and their expectations haven’t been met, they’re disappointed and find it difficult to maintain their new weight.
When starting out on a fat-loss journey it’s important to question and evaluate your expectations. Too many women start out on their journey subconsciously believing that happiness and self-acceptance is conditional. They believe they will only be happy or will only accept themselves when they’ve lost all the weight.
But if your happiness and self-acceptance are determined by external factors, it will be momentary and fleeting.
True happiness and self-acceptance comes from the inside. If you don’t accept yourself before you lose the weight, you won’t accept yourself after you have lost the weight.
#3. No self-compassion
Many women don’t follow through with the plans they set out for themselves, not because they’re weak, but because they’re just too strict and expect perfection. You’ll never be able to diet perfectly all the time; maybe for a little while, but you won’t be able to do it forever.
When embarking on a fat-loss journey it’s more important to start from a place of compassion. Accept the fact that you won’t be perfect, and that you’ll have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days. This mindset is not setting you up for failure; it’s actually setting you up for victory.
By allowing yourself some room for failure you’re also giving yourself room to get back up again.
When you expect perfection failure will completely knock the wind out of you. However, if you allow yourself some room for failure you can view it as part of a learning curve, and can then get back on track.
Having established why most resolutions fail, here are five tips to ensure you can make your next transformation a success, no matter when you start it. Before you start though, know and accept that the process will have to consist of a mindset shift, together with a lifestyle change.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.