The start of a new year brings with it a chance to make good on unmet fitness goals of the previous year.
For example, how many times did you punch the snooze button when you had planned on waking up early to work out?
Whatever happened to all those healthy lunches you were going to cook for yourself on weekends? Maybe it’s time to reassess your approach.
We asked top trainers and fitness pros to tell us about the New Year’s resolutions they wish their clients would make.
Read on to hear their expert opinions on how you can start the year off right.
10 New Years Resolutions Trainers
1. Choose a Theme for the Year
Skip the laundry list of resolutions and choose a single word for your year’s mantra, recommends Shay Kostabi, master trainer for Flybarre Flatiron in New York City.
“Choosing just one word that describes how you want to feel instead of what you want to look like or what you think you should do is incredibly powerful.”
Say it aloud, write it down and connect with it. Your theme will guide you in aligning your actions, behaviors and goals, says Kostabi, who’s used words like “ascension,” “glamour” and “clarity” in the past.
2. Spend More Time in the Kitchen
This advice may sound counterintuitive, but many people put too much emphasis on their workouts and too little on nutrition, says Petrina Hamm, ACE-certified trainer and founder of PetrinaHammFitness.com. “You can’t out-exercise a bad habit.”
Skip the convenience food and fast food and cook up simple foods like lightly seasoned chicken, rice noodles and other quick and healthy meals. “You don’t need the skills of Julia Childs,” says Hamm.
Keep healthy staples on hand like eggs, whole wheat pasta, beans, frozen veggies, yogurt, fruit and chicken breast.
3. Take Time for Yourself
Finding ways to de-stress helps you mentally and physically. Chronic stress is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and sudden emotional stress may even trigger a heart attack.
Give yourself permission to “take five” and do something nice for yourself, says Jamie Walker, CEO and co-founder of the online tool SweatGuru.com.
Go for a walk, practice deep breathing, turn off your cell phone, watch a funny video or practice yoga to unwind.
4. Be Dedicated 90 Percent
Keep your eye on the prize 90 percent of the time and give yourself 10 percent leeway, says Astrid Swan McGuire, Barry’s Bootcamp instructor in Los Angeles, CA. “It’s not about the jumpstart diet or the quick fix.
It’s about dedication. Be 90 percent ready at all times!” When you’re dedicated 90 percent of the time it gives you 10 percent to enjoy a cocktail or celebrate a birthday, knowing your commitment will keep you on track.
5. Cut Down on Alcohol
Everyone wants a flat stomach but few people are willing to give up the alcohol to do it, says Bryan Ortiz, certified trainer of BrooklynBadAssFitness.com in Brooklyn, NY. Red wine may be heart healthy, but those excess calories add up quickly if you’re trying to lose weight.
A study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” involving over 7,700 men over five years found that middle-aged men who switched from moderate drinking to abstinence or only occasional drinking showed the highest frequency of weight loss. Want flat abs? Ditch the booze.
6. Push Yourself When You Work Out Alone
It’s easy to find motivation with a trainer “shouting” in your face, but working out solo should not give you an excuse to go easy, says certified trainer Bryan Ortiz. “Clients get lazy when they work out alone and slack.
I want them to visualize me yelling at them to get them out of their comfort zone and get a bad ass body even when I’m not there training them.”
Work out with a fit friend, listen to motivating music or otherwise find ways to inspire yourself to push outside your comfort zone.
7. Commit Yourself to an Event or a Race
Signing up for a race — be it a Tough Mudder, a 5K or a charity race that raises money for a good cause — motivates you to reach for a goal, says certified trainer Bryan Ortiz.
“It gives you something to strive for outside of looking great for beach season.”
As a bonus, you also get a sense of pride and accomplishment when you cross the finish line. Good ones to try include the Spartan, Goruck Challenge, the Ragnar Relay and others.
8. Progress Slowly
It may sound virtuous to go from the couch to a full marathon in three months, but if you jump in all at once, you’ll likely end up injured.
Instead, work your way up gradually, says Amie Hoff, a NYC trainer and founder of HoffFitness.com. “Set mini goals. If you want to run in a marathon, first find a walking event.
Then move up to a 5K, than a 10K. Work up to a half marathon and finally, a marathon.” You’ll not only feel comfortable running with other people in a group format, but you’ll understand the logistics of the race set-up as well.
9. Reward Yourself
Giving yourself a small financial reward for each workout acts as motivation and can go towards a new fitness accessory or piece of clothing.
I recommend my clients put away $5 for every time they complete a workout or follow-through on an appointment with me, says Yana Hempler, a trainer from Victoria, British Columbia.
“This way you’re not only getting healthier but saving toward buying something you want to buy for yourself.” Spend the extra dough on a pedometer, a pair of lifting gloves, resistance tubing or a new pair of workout shoes.
10. Track Your Progress
While tracking your dietary intake helps target problem areas, it’s a good idea to also keep tabs on your exercise and your emotions, says Angelique Millis, Los Angeles, CA-based fitness professional and lifestyle coach.
“Set goals for yourself and take five minutes each day to update your journal, including tracking your feelings about your fitness journey.”
Hold yourself accountable but also have patience with yourself as you take time to understand your personal habits and behaviors, says Millis. “Plus, it’s rewarding to look back and see progress.”