It’s that time of year! After we’ve all stuffing our faces with delicious holiday food and treats, we are left with a bigger belly and loads of regret. If you are like most people, first you swear to never eat or drink ever again (which we all know isn’t going to happen), and then you make a new years resolution to eat healthier, go to the gym, and get in better shape just in time for swimsuit season. But again, if you are like most people, this resolution does not last much longer than the leftover eggnog in your fridge. Let’s make this year different. Let this be the year that you keep your new year’s resolution and can hang out by the pool with confidence. But how? Here are 10 tips to make 2019 your best year ever.

1. Get pumped.

Find what motivates you. Maybe it’s a wedding dress or tux you want to fit into, a pant size you want to get down to, a race you want to be able to run, or even just an ugly picture of yourself that you never want to see again. Whatever it is, find it, because if you are not motivated and keep going every single day, your resolution will fizzle out very quickly. So put a picture on your mirror or your phone or put that dress where you can see it to remind you of why you started this journey.

2. Just do it.

There are always going to be reasons why you should put off your plans for a more convenient time. There may never be a perfect time to change your life, so just do it now! There’s no better time than the present.

3. Set a goal.

And write it down! “Exercising more” and “eating healthier” are terrible goals because there is no way to know if you have achieved them or not. Here are some guidelines on how to set SMART goals for yourself:

  • Specific – what exactly do you want to achieve? Rather than just telling yourself that you want to be healthier, how far do you want to be able to walk? How much do you want to weigh? What size do you want to be? Whatever your goal is, make it specific so you know what you are aiming for
  • Measurable – give your goal a specific number or value so that you can gauge your progress and whether or not you have met your goal
  • Attainable – make your goal attainable and realistic for you. If you have never run before, you may not aim to run a marathon this year, but a 5K is achievable!
  • Relevant – make your goals relevant to you and your life. If you hate running, don’t give yourself the goal to run a marathon. Let’s face it, if you do not like running, you are not likely going to keep up with it for the long haul. Choose something that is important to you that you actually enjoy.
  • Time – set a time frame for when you want to achieve your goal. If you do not have an end date in mind you may work at your goals forever without achieving them. Also, set a reasonable and realistic time frame for your goals. Expecting yourself to lose 50 pounds in 2 months may be a little aggressive and unrealistic while setting your goal for 2 years may be too far in the future to keep you motivated. If you have a long-term goal that may take some time, set smaller goals along the way to make sure you are making progress and are on track to achieve your end goal

4. Make a plan.

And again, write it down! If you do not have a structured plan as to how you are going to achieve your goals, you may never follow through. How often are you going to go to the gym? How many calories are you going to consume every day? In my personal experience, I have found it a lot easier to stick to an exercise routine when I found a workout program with a set schedule, so I know exactly what exercises I am supposed to do on a given day for months on end.

5. Make it a priority.

There will always be something more important or more fun to do, but you have to make your health a priority. Schedule the time when you are going to go for a walk or go to the gym and don’t let anything get in the way of it.

6. Stop making excuses.

Excuses don’t burn calories. You can’t lose weight sitting on the couch, even if you have a really good excuse for staying home instead of going to the gym. You will always be able to think of a reason not go to the gym, but you have to be motivated enough to ignore the excuses and remember your end goal. Here are some common excuses for not going to the gym:

  • I don’t have time – this is an easy lie we can tell ourselves. Everyone is busy. We fill our days with so many activities, but not all of these things are as important as our health. Find some of the things you do every day that waist time or can be cut or shortened to make room for exercise. And you don’t need to go to the gym are participate in your activity every single day for hours on end, a quality workout can be done in as little as 15 minutes. Again, you just need to make it a priority in your life.
  • It’s too expensive – you don’t need to go to an expensive and fancy gym to get a good workout. You may not even need to leave the house! Some gyms offer discounts through your health insurance and some employers offer incentives for going to the gym. And again, if it is a priority in your life, you can likely find ways to save money and cut costs to afford a gym membership. If a gym isn’t for you, there are plenty of ways you can get a good workout at home with only a little space and your own bodyweight. You can even add some soup cans and milk jugs for more resistance.
  • I don’t know what to do – there are many resources on the internet where you can find safe and effective workout routines based on your goals. However, you may want to contact your physical therapist or a personal trainer for tips and information before starting a workout routine.
  • I’m not a morning person – then work out at night! Or take advantage of your lunchtime and go for a walk or get in a short work out.

7. Be accountable.

A lot of times people want to hide the fact that they are on a diet or trying to lose weight because it says to other people that they are fat and need to lose weight. However, there is nothing wrong with trying to be healthier and better yourself. So tell your friends and family. That way they know your goals and can encourage you, or they may guilt you into going to the gym or putting down the donut if you know they’re watching. And who knows, maybe they will join you and you can go on the journey together. Workout classes at your local gym or community center are other ways to stay accountable and meet a network of people working towards the same goals.

8. Stop comparing yourself to other people.

A lot of people chose not to go to the gym because they are self-conscious of how they look while they’re working out. No one cares! Most people at the gym are focused on themselves and their workout and do not care what you look like. Also, stop comparing yourself to other people. Everyone started their journey at some point. Everyone has a day one. So stop comparing your day one to someone else’s day 100 or 1,000. You will get there eventually, so don’t be discouraged by someone else’s successes.

9. Don’t beat yourself up.

Everyone falls off the wagon every once in a while. Everyone has a cheat meal on occasion. If you miss a day or two at the gym, get back on track. If you have a cookie or a piece of cake at work, stay an extra 15 minutes on the elliptical. If you eat a lot at the party, follow it up with a good day of eating. Don’t let one bad meal ruin your day, don’t let one bad day ruin your week, and don’t let a bad week ruin your diet. Every day is a new day, and you don’t have to wait until Monday to start over.

10. Don’t give up.

I know it is easy to get frustrated and discouraged, especially if you do not see immediate results. Just keep with it, it will get easier. It takes 21 days for something to become a habit, so give it some time. If your goal is to lose weight, try not to focus so much on the number on the scale and weighing yourself every day. Your weight will fluctuate simply based on the water in your body, so it can be frustrating to see your weight constantly go up and down. As long as you stick to your healthier lifestyle the results will come and you will be healthier for it.

If you have any questions before starting your journey to a healthier life, feel free to contact your local Freedom physical therapist regarding exercise techniques and to clear any injuries you may have before starting an exercise program.