The No-No of New Year Resolutions

The new year is a time of the year when many individuals embark on a new endeavor! Their motivation is strikingly high within the month of January, but unfortunately, it tends to decrease over time (Höchli, Brügger, & Messner, 2019). The goal is abandoned shortly after it was developed by sacrificing their minded goal and ultimately going back to their old ways.



In the fitness industry, the new year sparks at it's all-time high with the most popular goal, “Weight Loss”! Since the prevalence of overweight and obesity upon the United States has reached an all-time high (Rössner, Hansen, & Rössner, 2011), this may provide the purpose of this popular goal. Additionally, the purpose to lose weight may be driven by health concerns, but the focus can also be the desire to boost appearance (Rössner et al., 2011). As the new year approaches, a common point becomes one’s bodyweight thus bringing their health into the spotlight.


Of course, an increase in total calories will tag along with the holiday season! It has been documented that the holiday weight gain is highly influenced by the foods purchased from the month’s October to December. Around the holiday season, it is assumed that individuals increase their consumption of energy-dense foods (junk-food or low-quality foods) which expose several behavioral factors upon overindulging (Pope, Hanks, Just, & Wansink, 2014). Pope et al. (2014) report that the holiday season can increase weight by 0.93 lb. to 2.0 lb. and may not reduce after the holidays.


Although people make resolutions, more often than not, they fail to achieve the goals (Höchli et al., 2019) due to misguided goal structure. At Linked Fit, we encourage everyone to develop SMART goals. Refer to our ‘Behavioral Change’ article on how to develop appropriate goals!



Goals Should Not Be Structured Towards:
  1. Focus on Losing Bodyweight

  2. Participate in a Fad Diet

  3. Be Cardio Obsessive to Reduce Fat


Focus on Losing Bodyweight


Generally, monitoring and tracking bodyweight is an easy task, but is it really a beneficial way of recognizing the new you? Unfortunately, body dissatisfaction is highly prevalent among young adults (Neumark-Sztainer, Watts, & Rydell, 2018) and adults. This view upon the body has negative consequences on various behavioral, physical, and psychosocial outcomes (Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2018). Individuals that tolerate a negative body image often engage in frequent self-weighing, mirror checking, or avoid specific public situations (Alleva, Sheeran, Webb, Martijn, & Miles, 2015). This is not a healthy or safe way for the function of goal orientation!



Rather than focusing on bodyweight, concentrate on meaningful details during the new actionable journey. These can be performance parameters such as new-found strengths during training; health vitals such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and lean muscle mass; or psychological growths via quality of life, confidence, and happiness. At this time, welcome the acceptance of embodiment (quality of experiences of living in one’s body as they engage with the world around them (Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2018)).


Participate in a Fad Diet



Why shouldn’t someone participate in a trendy fad diet? Often, the individual’s that focus on weight loss for a new year’s resolution, typically drop their goal and return to previous habits (Pope et al., 2014). As William James stated in 1890, one should make actions useful by making them automatic and habitual but as early as possible (Galla & Duckworth, 2015). Individuals need to strive on the process of self-control which is the ability to voluntarily regulate attention, emotion, and behaviors upon a valued goal (Galla & Duckworth, 2015). Allowing oneself to value the process of self-control via a developed habit will provide benefits of long-term aspiration. The consistent focus on controlling a habit is likely to support the outcomes of forgoing temptations compared to individuals of irregular self-control.


Do not focus on participating in the latest fad for nutritional considerations but rather direct the attention on the habits that depress behaviors for overall self-control. Develop a habit that will trigger an automatic response via the gradual development of mental associations between the repeated behaviors (Galla & Duckworth, 2015). In order to promote goal adherence, a habit should be encouraged through good behaviors thus embracing individuals towards adaptive patterns (Galla & Duckworth, 2015). By developing habits rather than going from one diet to the next will instill a lifetime of positive attributes.


Be Cardio Obsessive to Reduce Fat


First things first, fitness offers so much more than just sitting on a cardio machine! It’s unfortunate to hear popular sayings such as “I don’t want to lift weights it will make me bulky” or “I will get injured lifting weights”. Usually, women that lift weights will not get bulky unless their genetics are predisposed towards larger muscle fiber diameters. As for getting injured, if one practices safe technique with an appropriate training program structured on progression, the risk of injury is dramatically decreased.


Research continues to support that combining cardio-based training with resistance (weight) training can decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass during an adequate period of time (Villareal et al., 2017). Additionally, a standalone 12 to a 16-week resistance training program can contribute towards decreased body fat and improvements in lean muscle mass (Marcos-Pardo, Martínez-Rodríguez, & Gil-Arias, 2018; Stuart, Lee, South, Howell, & Stone, 2017). Certainly, these outcomes can be significantly impacted by incorporating appropriate nutritional practices, sufficient sleep, reduced stress, and good health. At Linked Fit, we encourage the combination of cardio and resistance training to generate admirable results. Directing the focus on only one component of training neglects the broad range of transformations that can happen. Therefore, one should value the support from scientific evidence that linking cardio and resistance training will increase overall goal potential.



When a new calendar year approaches, this will establish the review of changing a problematic behaviors (Norcross, Mrykalo, & Blagys, 2002). It’s important to develop a resolution that will ultimately elicit overall focus on health and lifestyle. If struggling to develop an appropriate goal for the new year, seeking out a professional to help guide the path is recommended. Again, aim to develop a SMART goal! When the journey has begun, it’s recommended to administer regular evaluations on the specific goal and adjustments may be needed to keep the success rate high!



Reference:

  • Alleva, J. M., Sheeran, P., Webb, T. L., Martijn, C., & Miles, E. (2015). A Meta-Analytic Review of Stand-Alone Interventions to Improve Body Image. PloS one, 10(9), e0139177-e0139177. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139177

  • Galla, B. M., & Duckworth, A. L. (2015). More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(3), 508-525. doi:10.1037/pspp0000026

  • Höchli, B., Brügger, A., & Messner, C. (2019). Making New Year's Resolutions that Stick: Exploring how Superordinate and Subordinate Goals Motivate Goal Pursuit. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, n/a(n/a). doi:10.1111/aphw.12172

  • Marcos-Pardo, P. J., Martínez-Rodríguez, A., & Gil-Arias, A. (2018). Impact of a motivational resistance-training programme on adherence and body composition in the elderly. Scientific reports, 8(1), 1370-1370. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-19764-6

  • Neumark-Sztainer, D., Watts, A. W., & Rydell, S. (2018). Yoga and body image: How do young adults practicing yoga describe its impact on their body image? Body image, 27, 156-168. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.09.001

  • Norcross, J. C., Mrykalo, M. S., & Blagys, M. D. (2002). Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers. J Clin Psychol, 58(4), 397-405. doi:10.1002/jclp.1151

  • Pope, L., Hanks, A. S., Just, D. R., & Wansink, B. (2014). New Year's res-illusions: food shopping in the new year competes with healthy intentions. PloS one, 9(12), e110561-e110561. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110561

  • Rössner, S. M., Hansen, J. V., & Rössner, S. (2011). New Year's resolutions to lose weight--dreams and reality. Obesity facts, 4(1), 3-5. doi:10.1159/000324861

  • Stuart, C. A., Lee, M. L., South, M. A., Howell, M. E. A., & Stone, M. H. (2017). Muscle hypertrophy in prediabetic men after 16 wk of resistance training. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 123(4), 894-901. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00023.2017

  • Villareal, D. T., Aguirre, L., Gurney, A. B., Waters, D. L., Sinacore, D. R., Colombo, E., . . . Qualls, C. (2017). Aerobic or Resistance Exercise, or Both, in Dieting Obese Older Adults. The New England journal of medicine, 376(20), 1943-1955. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1616338

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