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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.

New Year, New Gains

It’s that time of year again. All around us people are getting into New Year’s Resolution mode, with many of those ambitions revolving around fitness and body composition. If history’s anything to go by, though, most of those resolutions are going to be shot down in flames by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around.

But that doesn’t mean that your fitness goals have to succumb to the dismal New Year’s resolution statistics. In this article, I’ll lay out six ways to turn your 2022 fitness goals into real-world gains.

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Why Resolutions Fail

The biggest problem that people make when it comes to weight loss and muscle gain resolutions is that they underestimate the length of time and consistent hard work required to achieve their resolution. We’re living in an instant noodles society where people are wanting results almost immediately. However, our body doesn’t abide by that schedule.

For real results, you need to set long-term goals and consistently work toward them. It’s the old story of the tortoise and the hare - slow and steady wins the race every time!

Set Stepping Stone Goals

Rather than focusing on a huge goal, like losing 75 pounds, start small and focus on short-term stepping stone goals that are achievable. Chip away at your goals daily. Start as small as you can and do not even think about the next task until you finish the one you are working on.

The stepping stone goals that you set should revolve around actions rather than outcomes. So your goals for today might be to have a workout that is slightly more challenging than the last one and to fuel your body only for performance. If you can nail those daily goals, the larger goal will take care of itself.

Build Habits

Motivation will get you started on the way to achieving your New Year’s goals but it is the development of habits that will achieve the consistency to see you through to their completion. Small habits carried out day to day to completion will lead to the fulfillment of your goals.

There are three steps to the creation of habits:

  1. The Trigger
  2. The Behavior
  3. The Reward

Your brain will soon understand that if it sees the cue, and does the action it will get the reward. When you think about it, switching from a bad habit to a good habit doesn’t have to require changing all three of these steps. If you stick with the same trigger and reward but simply switch out the action in the middle, you should, theoretically, be able to transform a bad habit into a good habit.

Let’s consider an example to see how this might work in practice:

_You’re at work and it comes to your lunch break. Everyone else automatically heads outside for a cigarette break. But you are trying to break the smoking habit, you head out for a 10-minute walk in the fresh air. _

We see that the cue remains the same- the lunch bell. The activity changes. But the reward, getting out of the work environment and relaxing the mind remains the same. You also get the extra benefit of fresh air, which you can’t exactly claim on a cigarette break!

1. Upgrade your associates

Surround yourself with like-minded people who are already displaying the good habits that you are trying to cultivate. We are all products of our environment. If we remain in company with those who are doing the things we are trying to stop doing, we will find it much harder to succeed. They will also likely try to pressure us to continue in the habit.

Ideally, you should hang around with people who look down on the habit that you are trying to break away from. They need to make it clear that the habit is a no-no if you want to hang around with them.

2. Remove your bad habit enablers

Identify the things that enable your bad habit. You can’t smoke if you don’t have any cigarettes in the house. Likewise, if you’re trying to break a porn habit, you might have to put a kiddie lock on your internet access. This step is going to be hard on you. It all comes down to how badly you want to change your habits!

3. Change Your environment

When you are outside of your natural environment, your brain can make new and different connections and jolt you out of your normal routine. This makes it a good time to get rid of bad habits. So, if you can be around a different environment and different people, you will be able to break out of a bad habit more quickly.

Make Yourself Accountable

When we make ourselves accountable, we give ourselves more motivation to complete the task. Tell people what your goal is and you have the weight of their expectation to drive you. They will also be available to help keep you accountable by asking how you're tracking towards your goal and even questioning your food choices!

Another way to make ourselves accountable is to team up with a training partner. Knowing that someone else is relying on you to show up can provide that extra motivation to throw off the sheets on a cold morning and get moving.

Hiring a personal trainer is another way to keep yourself accountable. If you can’t afford weekly sessions, even one training session per month with a trainer will boost your accountability and keep you on track.

One more way to keep yourself accountable is to join a group training environment such as Bootcamp or CrossFit.

Develop Resilience

Goal achievement is never linear. On the way to your goal, you will inevitably stumble, fall off the healthy food wagon, and wimp on some workouts. That’s because you are not a robot. Especially at the start, it’s probably going to take a few false starts before you are constantly humming along.

When you fall, rather than developing a complex about failure, pick yourself back up and get right back to it.

Here’s a home workout you should try:

Learn to Love the Process

It’s the people who enjoy the journey who ultimately succeed. They are, after all, the ones who will be the most consistent. You can acquire tastes that will make what you’re doing enjoyable. For example, you can develop a taste for your gym workouts by focusing on the enjoyment of performing the exercises with precision, feeling the muscles being worked through their full range of motion, and getting that little bit stronger than you were last time.

Focus, too, on the great feeling after your workout when endorphins are rushing through your bloodstream. It could even be the joy you receive from being a disciplined and regimented person.

Wrap Up

It’s the ideal time of year to set new fitness goals. By applying the key strategies of setting stepping stone goals, building habits, making yourself accountable, developing resilience, and learning to love the process, you will be able to stay on track toward achieving those goals and making 2022 the year that you take your fitness to the next level.

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