4 Dos and Don'ts for New Year's Fitness Resolutions


*This post was originally a guest post on Samantha's blog.

I'm just going to be honest: As someone who regularly works out, January is the most annoying month of the year. I have my regular gym routine through the winter months, which includes my favorite treadmill and my morning TV shows. Then January hits and all of the sudden my treadmill is being used by someone I've never seen before! And they've not only stolen my treadmill, but they're hogging the TV so can't watch my Boy Meets World reruns! 

I grit my teeth and decide not to trip them while reminding myself that in a few weeks, my treadmill will be free again, and the gym will be empty. Why? Because January is the time for resolutions, and according to the statistics, almost half drop out after the first month.

But as much as I am glad to have my treadmill all to myself, I am also sad that so many people had such high hopes for the New Year, only to fall off the wagon after only a few short weeks.

I'm certainly not claiming to be a resolution expert, and I've definitely had good intentions that didn't pan out. But I've been a runner for going on 5 years now, and I want to offer you all a few tips for making a resolution, specifically with regard to fitness, and actually keep it.

1. DON'T make a specific weekly goal for the entire year at once.

In the grand scheme of life, a year is not a long time, but when you're actually doing the daily grind, a year might as well be forever. With that in mind, don't set yourself up for failure by making a ridiculous fitness resolution like "I will run 3 times a week for the whole year." No.

Instead, I've found it easier to start with a more manageable time frame like a month or even two weeks, as silly as that may sound. Doing this makes your goal appear less daunting. You may not be able to keep up something for 52 weeks, but you can surely do TWO, right? And then just one more after than. And one more after that...
All of the sudden, it's a habit!

Your smaller weekly goals should ultimately help you work toward #2:

2. DO make one large fitness goal for the year.

If you're a runner (or a wanna-be runner), this could be something like run a 5k. Or run a 10k, a half marathon, etc. Maybe your goal is to weigh a certain amount or be able to bench press a certain amount or fit into a certain pair of jeans. 

3. DON'T keep your resolution to yourself. 

Have a goal to hit the gym twice a week? Tell someone about it! Accountability is key. Find a friend to go to the gym with. Sign up to be part of a running group. Join a class at the gym. Working out is much more fun if you have someone to talk about it with.

At the very, very least, check out #4:

4. DO keep a schedule on your fridge.

I post my running schedule on my fridge, and it helps motivate me to see all the checkmarks where I crossed off my workouts. It's easy to "forget" about a workout or sleep in, but having a calendar within sight keeps you focused on your goals, specifically whatever you have as your larger goal (see #2).

Those are just a few dos and don'ts for resolutions. Fitness especially is something a lot of people want to be better at, but it's hard to get into the habit. The best thing to do is to remember to stay focused on your goals and give yourself a break if you mess up. Just because you've missed one or two workouts doesn't mean you should stop!

**For those who want to start running in 2015, check out my seven-part running series: How to Start RunningStart with Part 1: Setting Expectations and go from there!**

Did you make a fitness resolution this year? What are you going to do to make sure you follow through with it? Any other tips to add about what's worked for you?


  1. Great tips! I agree, having manageable goals leading up to a big goal for the year is much more reasonable than committing yourself to doing something every week. No one sticks to that!

  2. Great tips. I have seen too many times that life can get in the way during a year in ways you never plan. One fitness goal at a time is the way I go too.

  3. I never set any goals, I just workout every day. I always have, I probably always will!!! I think these are great ideas, esp for newbies!!!

  4. Great tips! My goal for this year (as you probably remember because I've only mentioned it 50 billion times) is to run a marathon. I registered for the Detroit Freepress Marathon yesterday, so now I'm committed!

    Then I promptly failed to run this morning before work. Buuuuut....I'm still feeling a bit rough from NYE festivities. Good thing the race is in October! I do have a plan already built though. I think the biggest thing that helps me to stay committed to my goals is actually signing up for a race and being financially committed too. I hate wasting money!

    Happy New Year!

  5. I am pretty bad with routine and not being lazy, so I change it up from at home workouts, outside runs, and hitting the gym. i pretty much avoid the gym in january. although, i am definitely someone who makes new years resolutions ever single year lol. i like your do's and dont's though.. very smart!

  6. I totally agree about January. At weight watchers last week we were joking that we'd have to go early this week to get our regular seats. Also, I love the idea of posting your schedule on the fridge. I keep mine in my plan book but I think it would be better to have it somewhere more public (as in, where the husband can see and nag accordingly). Happy New Year.

  7. Great tips! I know I always do best when I have a posted schedule. Something about crossing off each day is motivating for me. Also, seeing everyday helps :)

  8. Wonderful tips. My gym was so busy before Christmas, I can only imagine the craziness that it is guaranteed to be for the next month. Happy New Year!

  9. Here is my 2015 fitness goal: I want to be able to one ONE unassisted full-fledged sit up. Remember when we did a Harry Potter workout at Laura M.'s house and I couldn't do a sit up and you were all like, what this? and then proceeded to do about 15 sit ups in a row without having to tuck your feet under the couch? Yeah.

    Wish me luck! (and post ab/core videos that you like, maybe? 'cause I def use the arm ones you posted way back before you could do a pull up and they were grand.)

    1. I don't remember that, but now I feel like a jerk for flaunting my superior sit up talents in your face :) haha. I think that's an awesome goal! AND I know you can totally do it. Here's a good video you could start with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ueDpXC_Wao (I like the Sarah Fit Channel). Also, doing planks will help with your core: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/143411569358747478/

  10. I especially love goal #1! Because my 2014 was full of big, unexpected changes I'm setting four broad, big goals this year and one focused goal per month. I think it'll help me adapt and change as the year goes on!

  11. Great tips! I have no idea why I never thought about posting my work-out schedule on my fridge so that I can see it often and check my progress. Thanks!

  12. I'm in the military, so it is practically a job of mine to maintain a certain fitness level. Every six months, we have our fitness tests which consist of push-ups, situps, and distant running. Although I can pass all of the sections, I do still struggle with the situp portion mostly due to the number we have to do within the allotted time.

    To improve my performance and diversify my muscular training, I mix and match a bunch of 30-day challenges that target my core and incorporate cardio. I literally wait until the end of a 30-day cycle to decide on another monthly goal that targets the same area. What I love about this strategy is that such spontaneity enables my body to adapt to different stressors.

  13. I want to be more consistent with my workouts since I slacked off during the holidays. Keeping a calendar on the fridge is a great idea, to be able to cross it off.

  14. Man, AMEN to all of this! I've seen too many people in my family struggle because they didn't do one or all of the things you talked about above. I think everything you said plus over-ambition in general (I'm going 6 days a week at 6am) is why you get your treadmill back in two weeks.

    I think my goal for the year is to run maybe a couple of half marathons. Sounds like a really concrete goal doesn't it? Haha I probably won't actually sign up until I'm running like 6 miles and have proven I can do it (I didn't sign up for my marathon until I was running like 15 miles- I'm skittish about these things). I also really want to start making healthier food choices and transitioning into more veggies and less pasta. We had zucchini spaghetti tonight and it was surprisingly good!

  15. jon just asked what was so funny as i read your rant about the new year aspirants stealing your treadmill - so, so true. i experience this annual inconvenience more at the yoga studio, but i like having the spot on the right next to the wall -- who is this new girl who doesn't know the poses taking my place? sigh oh sigh, give it a couple weeks :)

  16. I don't belong to an official gym - I have access to a fitness center at work, so that's not a problem for me. (It's only a problem when I'm competing with student athletes for the treadmill in front of my favorite television.) My fitness goals tend to be run X amount of races in a year. I want to run at least one half marathon in 2015. (I've completed 11 in my lifetime, so it's just a matter of getting the training in.)

    I prefer to set monthly fitness goals for myself - or shorter term goals. I love making resolutions, but I don't tend to get too caught up in fitness ones in January.

  17. These are so helpful. I usually tend to make the "I'm going to work out 2 times a week" goal, but then it NEVER sticks. I did just get a fitbit, though, and it has been really fun to see how far I walk each day and reaching goals. In NYC, we walked 50 miles in 5 days!

    Anyways, Happy New Year, friend! I really loved your Christmas card!!!

  18. Great tips! I have found writing down exercise and sharing it as part of my monthly goals has helped motivate me. It is just so hard to get into a routine for me and stay motivated.

  19. Those are great tips. I love the first one because I started out last year by just walking 30 minutes, then it was 10,000 steps a day, then it was signing up for workout classes (signing up and being committed gets me there), etc. As my fitness level built up, my goals changed!

  20. You're right about the gym attendance - ours is always packed in January and open in February. It's also sad - but convenient if you regularly work out - to check Craig's List for exercise equipment and other goodies in February and March.

    I've found that sharing my monthly goals, whether they're fitness related or anything else, really helps keep me on task. After I write them up, I stick them on the fridge, on the blog, and put them on a piece of paper tucked into my work notebook so they stay close at hand and close to mind!

  21. These tips are excellent! This year my "fitness & fun" goal is to participate in more fun/obstacle runs! I can't wait to see what kind of runs I can find out there!

  22. Lifestyle changes all the way! January is a terrible time to be at the gym. Or in the parking lot at the gym.

  23. #1...AMEN AND AMEN.
    take it week by week, day by day! PREACH

  24. I definitely am not a fan of the influx of people in January. Truth be told, I actually haven't been to the gym once since the new year (even though I normally go three times a week). It's not because of the crowds, though. First it was travel and now I'm home taking care of Christopher while he recovers from surgery. I'll go again once he's back at work. I'm not looking forward to the crowds, but at the same time, I feel that same sadness for people who have such high hopes and then give up. These are great tips!


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