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New Year’s Fitness Goals: Lifelong Habits, Not Quick Fixes

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

New Year's fitness goals

We have all heard the saying “new year; new you,” and the beginning of January is notorious for people trying to hit their lofty New Year's fitness goals.

And more often than not, this is quickly followed by dwindling numbers as the year progresses and these same people give up on their fitness aims.

A big reason that people don’t follow through is that they set unattainable goals from the beginning and quickly burn out when they don’t see instantaneous results.

The key is to set sustainable fitness, workout, and exercise goals.

Follow the tips below to build healthy habits that will help you crush your New Year's fitness goals — and stay healthy for years to come!

Looking for some nutrition and diet advice, too? Check out these New Year's health goals.

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Tips For Setting Realistic New Year's Fitness Goals

There is nothing wrong with setting the bar high.

However, it can be helpful to choose short-term, realistic goals along the way to reaching your long-term goals.

Exercise at times can feel like a chore! And it can be especially daunting when you set lofty long-term goals.

By changing your mindset you will be able to stay motivated as you reach new, smaller, everyday goals.

You may have set a goal to lose “X” amount of pounds, or drop 3 dress sizes.

However, as much as being lean and fit is important for long-term health, fitness is not just about weight or clothing size.

Exercise and fitness have numerous overall health benefits.

Exercise is important for overall physical health and can help decrease the incidence of a number of chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension.

On top of that, exercise itself can improve your mood, decrease stress levels, and help you feel empowered as a woman.

This is why your New Year's fitness goals should be something that you can sustain as lifelong goals, and not just quick fixes.

Make Performance Goals Instead of Just Weight Loss Goals

While weight loss always seems to be the top priority for women looking to get into shape, performance goals are even more fun to achieve.

Knowing that you can achieve physical goals based on strength and endurance is one of the best feelings out there.

This is great not just for your physical health, but also for your mental and emotional well being.

So instead of just focusing on the scale when you plan your workouts, you should also include performance goals to keep your body and mind motivated.

For example, if you are an avid runner, or just looking to start from scratch, you can make it a goal to enter a 5K race.

As you train, you can focus on other performance goals, like trying to run non-stop for 5 minutes or improving your mile time by 10 seconds.

If you prefer working out in a group, make it a goal to go to two exercise classes a week, or to meet up with a friend every weekend for a workout.

These are just a few ideas to set small, performance-related goals.

By attaining these small victories, you will also be gaining muscle, building endurance, and reaching weight loss goals.

This will all get you closer to your long term fitness goals.

Learn to effectively achieve your goals by starting to simplify your weight loss journey!


Set Reasonable One Week or Daily Goals

It’s great to set the bar high with your New Year's fitness goals, but sometimes your long-term goal may seem too challenging.

So instead set some short-term goals to reach along the way!

For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, set a goal to lose one pound a week.

Research has shown that even moderate weight loss can decrease your risk for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension.

So you don’t have to drop a ton of weight to see numerous health benefits.

If you have a lofty performance goal, you should also set short term goals for these as well.

For example, if you want to increase the amount of weight you can squat by 50 pounds, try adding just five extra pounds every couple of weeks.

If you try to hit your goal too quickly, not only do you increase the risk of injury, but you may also lose motivation if you don’t see immediate improvement.

Schedule Your Workouts

It's easy to make a New Year's resolution and say you are going to workout more.

However, you are more likely to achieve this if you actually schedule your workouts.

Otherwise, you may fall back into the habit of saying “I'm too busy to workout” at the end of a long day.

If you know that you have a busy schedule after work or in the evening, make it a habit to get up early and workout before your day starts.

Or you can even schedule a midday workout if you have a long lunch break.

If you put it on your schedule, you make it a daily task that needs to be checked off just like anything else.

This video will help you create your own home workout plan for weight loss and toning!


Try New Activities

The new year is a great time to vary your workouts with new exercises and routines.

By adding variety to your workouts you can become re-engaged in a new fitness regimen.

This will also help you to not fall back on old habits of skipping workouts.

You can try out a class at your gym, like a boot camp class or barre class.

You could even join a run or bike group so that you will have other people to motivate you along the way.

Expand your horizons and try new activities outside of your comfort zone.

You may be surprised how much you enjoy these new workouts!

Build Power With Plyometrics and HIIT Workouts

If you aren’t already incorporating HIIT and plyometric moves into your workouts, then the new year is the time to add these exercises into your fitness arsenal.

Some women avoid high-intensity exercises due to fear of worsening knee or joint pain.

However, even if you suffer from joint pain, you can modify HIIT and plyometric moves to still enjoy all of the benefits these workouts offer.

What is HIIT?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great cardio option to burn calories in a short amount of time.

HIIT involves doing intervals of an exercise at the hardest effort you can sustain for a given period of time.

You can do pretty much any exercise you choose during these intervals.

This gives you the opportunity to train multiple muscle groups so that you will build lean muscle while you simultaneously burn fat in a short period of time.

For example, one study showed that two minutes of sprint intervals produced similar post-exercise oxygen consumption compared to 30 minutes of continuous running at a lower intensity.

This is important when you have minimal time to workout but want to achieve the same fitness goals.

This HIIT workout is one of our favorite quick workouts to burn fat and build muscle.


Combining HIIT and Plyometric Workouts

Plyometric training involves explosive compound movements that are typically done with just your bodyweight or very light weights.

Exercises include moves like plyometric pushups, box jumps, and jump lunges.

The goal is to train for maximum force production in the smallest period of time, so reps are kept low and the intensity and effort are high, similar to HIIT workouts.

This makes HIIT and plyo workouts a perfect combination.

Plyometric training focuses on increasing the strength and efficiency of the fast-twitch fibers.

This will carry over to all of your other workouts through gains in speed and strength.

For example, a study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that a combination of squat and plyometric training provided a significant increase to hip and thigh power production, resulting in a greater increase in vertical jumping ability than could be achieved from training solely with one program or the other.

During plyometric movements, you are trying to perform each movement as explosively as possible, which normally means leaving the ground.

However, you can modify how high you jump based on your current fitness level and underlying knee or joint limitations.

You can dedicate one of your workout days to doing strictly plyometrics, or you can add plyo exercises into your other routines.

If you want to try out a great HIIT-Plyo Workout to aid with your New Years Fitness goals, add this routine to your weekly workouts.

Fit Mom New Year's HIIT-PLYO Workout

With these exercises, perform the movement for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds before moving to the next move.

Alternating Jump Lunges

  • Start in a split stance position with your hands on your hips and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle with your right leg forward.
  • Lower your left knee toward the ground while bringing your right thigh parallel to the floor in a lunge position.
  • Push off the ground, jump and switch the position of your legs while in mid-air, landing into the lunge position with the left leg forward.
  • Repeat, switching legs on each jump.

Plyometric Push-Ups

  • Start in a plank position with wrists directly under the shoulders, body in a straight line from head to toe.
  • Lower your chest to the floor and then push up with enough force for your hands to leave the floor for a second, and then land softly and repeat.
  • You can also do this move on your knees.

Lateral Skaters

  • Start with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart and arms at the sides.
  • Bring your left leg behind at a slight angle into a reverse lunge with the front right knee at a 90-degree angle.
  • Swing the arms in front of that bent knee and leap the back leg forward to switch sides in a skating motion.
  • Alternate your arms and legs as you switch sides like a speed skater.

180 Jump Squats

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and begin to lower your body into a squat until  your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Jump up while turning your body 180 degrees mid-air, so that you land facing in the opposite direction.
  • Immediately lower into your squat again, and jump and turn in the opposite direction, so you land in the starting position.
  • Repeat as quickly as possible.

Broad Jumps

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and begin to lower the body into a squat.
  • Jump up as high as you can forward, and focus on landing softly on your feet.
  • Immediately return to the quarter-squat position and repeat.

After completing this circuit, rest for a full minute. Then repeat it two more times.

This 15-minute HIIT workout can be done at home with no equipment!


Keep Track 0f Your Progress

Sometimes it can help to see your progress in writing.

When you see all of the strides you are making in your fitness it makes it easier to stay motivated and accountable to your goals.

You can even leave yourself little notes on post-its or even as alerts on your phone to remind you of the goals you have achieved so far.

Another idea for the new year is to keep before and after photos from the start of your journey to reinforce how hard you have worked along the way.

You should also keep a fitness journal and write out your workouts to keep yourself accountable to your fitness.

If you are exercising on a regular basis it helps to keep track of how you are improving along the way.

If you have set a weight loss goal, monitoring the scale seems like the obvious thing to do.

But again, there is much more to health and weight loss than just that number.

If you are gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time, your weight may stay the same or increase slightly even if you are actually healthier.

This can be discouraging to see and can cause you to lose motivation.

This is where you can track things like body fat percentage. Your body composition is an important determinant of health

You should also track the amount of weight or reps you are doing during resistance workouts to monitor your strength gains.

During cardio workouts, monitoring your heart rate during similar workouts will allow you to see how your endurance is improving over time.

All of these things will keep you motivated as you see how much you are progressing over time.

Learn how to create a healthier lifestyle and body with these 5 actionable tips!


Stay Positive!

Everyone has ups and downs in their fitness journey.

So even if you have a setback or two while working towards your New Year's fitness goals, that’s OK!

Instead of completely giving up on your resolution, simply work on smaller, attainable goals while you get back on track.

It can be tough to stick to New Year's fitness goals if you don’t see immediate changes or progress.

This is why your New Year's fitness goals should be about making lifelong changes, and not just quick fixes.

Being a Fit Mother is about seeing your health and fitness as something to continually improve on, not just for yourself, but for your entire family.

Holly Smith

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on New Year's fitness goals.

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