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4 Tips for Successful Fitness Resolutions

Before you know it, it will be 2014. And the New Year tradition of hunting around for hangover cures and making resolutions will soon begin.

And, believe it or not, I can help you with both.

The New Year’s resolution is an important tradition for me – mainly because it almost always involves something fitness related. With a new year always comes the reality that you’re getting older. And, with that, oftentimes comes the reality that you’re not as fit as you’d like to be. Maybe you’d like to be a bit stronger. Maybe you’d like to hit a half-marathon. Maybe you’d even like to lose a few pounds.

So, you resolve to get it done in the new year, only to find that you haven’t actually done much of anything by February, and by May, you don’t even remember what goals you originally set.

This is not good, y’all. It just isn’t.

The question then becomes, how do I create a resolution that I can stick to, and actually successfully achieve? Of course, I have four steps for creating successful resolutions… and they are [virtually] foolproof:

Step 1: Outline exactly what it is that you want from the new year. It’s not enough to say “Oh, I want to lose weight” or “Oh, I want to look like [insert celebrity.]” You have to outline exactly what it is that you want. Do you want more muscular arms? Do you want leaner legs? Do you want a higher-sitting booty? A flatter stomach? Do you want to be more flexible? A faster running pace? What about finally deadlifting your body weight? Whatever you want, define it clearly. What will it look like? What will it require? What will it feel like? You can't achieve a goal until you know exactly what it is.

Step 2:  Map what your route to success looks like. If you want to lose 30 pounds, and you’ve never even set foot in a gym before (provided the gym is your chosen path), you’re gonna need to first begin with making a space in that busy schedule for the gym. Incorporating healthier options into the diet, investing in a gym bag that can stay in the car, and hiring a trainer may all need to be on that list. Either way, map out what must happen in order for you to get as close as possible to your goal, and organize them in order of what must happen first, and then map out what must happen in order to make that first step a success.

In other words, plan. Plan thoroughly.

Step 3: Realize that you’re in the midst of creating and changing habits. You’re incorporating more fitness-focused activities in your life in ways they weren’t before. That’s great! But let’s face it – life happens. When you wind up getting pulled in opposite directions – and one of those directions is to the gym and the other is towards work, what do you do?

That first time, you may have to take the L, but after that? Get into the habit of creating Plans B, C, D, and Q. Carry an extra set of workout clothes in the car or workbag. Invest in a heavy-duty workout DVD series. Whatever happens, spend time understanding how your life throws curveballs at you, and built alternative plans accordingly. One of the most common reasons for people “falling off the bandwagon” is because their lives throw so many curveballs, that they eventually believe any attempt to change is futile, and go back to what’s comforting. If you can plan for those curveballs, you’re practically smooth sailing.

Step 4: Be patient with yourself. Don’t let February come around, and you’ve quit simply because you didn’t have a perfect journey. If you give it time, follow your plan, and account for potential curveballs in your game, you can rest assured you’ll do fine. You will absolutely fail some days, but that failure isn’t enough to justify you throwing in the towel. Keep at it! As I always say, your body will thank you for it!

Oh, and that hangover? Drink water. Lots of water. Before and after the turn up. You’re welcome. 

Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award-winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she chronicles her journey of going from 330lb couch potato to certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and all-around fitness dynamo. Ask her your health and fitness-related questions on twitter at @bgg2wl.