Five fatal flaws that lead to new year’s fitness goal failure

New Years Fitness Resolution_

We all know the story: Clouded by guilt and discomfort brought on by holiday bingeing and laziness (mixed with an ample amount of new year optimism) you set fitness goals for yourself come January the second. You aim high (or very low if you measure health and fitness in terms of kilograms). Then comes February. The end. Fast forward to next January…. Aaaand repeat!

So, why do new year’s fitness resolutions almost always fail? Yes, the colleague who brings muffins for the office every day and the general business of life are great scapegoats. Yet, the problem is mainly that we set ourselves up for failure by the way we make resolutions.

Here are some common reasons why fitness goals die early deaths:

Unrealistic goals

Oftentimes we tend to be over-enthusiastic when we make resolutions. Also, in modern society we are so used to quick fixes that we become impatient with anything that takes time – like getting in shape. As a result, we set unrealistically high aims for ourselves and as soon as we realise that we are not going to make it (which might be day 1 of the new gym regime) we get despondent and give up.

A good strategy is to set small, reachable, step-by-step goals. Do not say “I want to run a half-marathon this year” and then quit – breathlessly – after your first lap around the block. Rather, set a reachable goal: “By the end of January I want to be able to run/walk four kilometres.” Then, after you have accomplished this, you set a new, doable goal for the next month.

Impractical goals

Another reason we often fail is because our resolutions are not viable within our schedules and budgets. If your work and family demands simply cannot accommodate five 90-minute gym sessions a week, do three one-hour sessions rather than quitting altogether in the name of “responsibility”. Alternatively, spend the money to buy basic equipment and exercise at home while supervising the kids. If you cannot afford gym membership, go for runs.

If it does not fit into your life, you are not going to sustain it!

Unpleasant goals

If you despise something, you are naturally inclined to put as much distance as possible between you and the despicable object. If that object is exercise, guess who is going to find an excellent excuse every day not put on their trainers?

The solution to this is obviously not accepting that you “dislike exercise and therefore should not do it.” No, rather find something you like – or can tolerate well enough – and then stick to that rather than feeling you should be putting up with dreadful sport activities as a punishment for being lazy. If you hate the treadmill, swim instead. If you cannot stand indoor exercise, cycle in the refreshing outdoors. If the women in the Pilates class are making you sick, join the kickboxing class.

However, you will need to man up – we will always need to push through some form of discomfort to reach a greater goal.

Lack of support

Most people lack in self-control when it comes to fitness programmes. The best way to counteract this is to be backed up and held accountable by others.

Tell friends, family and colleagues about your goals so that they can keep you on track by “checking up” on you. If you end up sticking to your programme out of sheer social pressure – just as well!  Also, find partners to keep you motivated in your pursuit. For example: get a gym buddy, join a club or make use of the professional services of a fitness instructor.

Goals vs. Habits

Lastly, it is very important to understand the difference between a goal and a habit: the former is a short-term mission whereas the latter refers to a lifestyle. A single health or fitness goal may be reached with enough determination, but will probably not be sustained if not backed by long-term lifestyle changes.

Losing 10 cm around your waist is an example of a reasonable and healthy goal. However, it is only “symptomatic relief” if your actual plan is not to tackle the root problem and make enduring changes to eat well and stay fit for the rest of your life.

In the end, health and fitness is a way of life, not a new year’s resolution. And this is often why we set the same goals year after year – we refuse to change the way we live and simply chase after feel-good goals.

Find the right health and fitness professionals to help you meet your goals and transform your lifestyle at

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Welcome to My Health and Fitness, a rich source of articles to help you become the best version of yourself. From diet to exercise and general health, our content contributors (including Biokineticists, Physiotherapists, and Fitness Professionals) will cover all your frequently asked questions and more!

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Disclaimer: Our articles are not meant to replace any medical advice as given to you by your doctor or healthcare specialist. Always consult your doctor before trying out a new exercise routine or making drastic changes to your diet, especially where pre-existing conditions are applicable.

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