The key to sticking to New Year's resolutions

By Ariel Conant

If you are already wavering on that new year's resolution you set, don't worry. Here are some tips on staying fit and healthy in 2015

By Ariel Conant |

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It's the start of a new year, and for many people that means making those dreaded New Year's Resolutions. 

But, according to research by the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, United States, less than half of those who make resolutions manage to stick with them for more than six months. The data also shows that only 8 per cent of people are actually successful in achieving their resolutions. 

Unsurprisingly, the number one resolution, according to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, is to lose weight or get in shape. With this in mind, Young Post talked to fitness experts to get their advice on what works and what doesn't when it comes to meeting your goals in 2015.

Quinton Arendse, co-owner of kickboxing gym Versus Performance, says a lot of newcomers sign up in January, after making their strict resolutions. 

"Most will probably stay for two or three months," he says. "About 20 per cent of them will stay longer." But for the majority, losing steam and giving up after a few months is a common failing.

This is often because of the way people go about setting their goals for the new year. 

Ed Haynes, founder and head of performance and training at Coastal Fitness Performance Training, says most people only have a vague idea of what they really want their resolution to be. 

"I find that people like to set a new year's resolution simply because that has become 'the thing to do'," says Haynes. "In order to achieve a goal, you need to put a plan in place to ensure that you stay on it."

A solid plan involves a realistic time-frame, according to director of CrossFit 852, Theodore Lo. 

"Most people approach their fitness goals with a short-term mindset, hoping to achieve all their results in a certain number of days," Lo explains. But thinking you only need to do a few months of work and then slack off for the rest of the year is the wrong idea. "Fitness is a lifestyle and should be treated as one," Lo says.

Arendse agrees. He says your goals shouldn't be too drastic. 

"The biggest mistake people make is to set unrealistic goals, and then fantasise about the results," he says. When they can't live up to what they imagined, that's when people give up. 

All three fitness experts agree that the most successful goals are ones that are truly realistic for you. 

"A lot of people say they want to 'get fit', but are unable to elaborate beyond that," says Lo. 

Instead, says Arendse, set more manageable targets. 

"For example, instead of, 'I will get fit in 2015', say to yourself, 'I will go to MMA classes three times a week for six months'," he says. 

By setting a benchmark and a timeframe, suddenly those resolutions become more grounded and real. Haynes also recommends breaking up your big resolutions into smaller categories. 

"Prioritising your goals is often overlooked. Take time to understand what means the most to you," he says.

Maybe you want to get stronger, but also want to lose some fat. Set goals and time frames that fit each of those categories, instead of trying to do them both at once. If you want to be able to do a pull-up, set that goal for March. Want to drop 2 per cent of your body fat? Try setting that goal for June. 

"Remember," warns Haynes, "you must have a plan in place. What will you do in order to get you from where you are now to where you want to be?"

Lynn Bufka, a psychologist with the American Psychological Association, echoes this advice. 

"Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1, can help you reach whatever it is you strive for," she says. 

And don't forget to celebrate the little achievements along the way, says Lo. "Being able to see small improvements over time is the best motivation."