How to Stick to Your Fat Loss Resolutions
Alrighty, we’re at the tail end of January. You know what that means? That means you either spent the month lifting and dieting like a champ or you spent the last month dorking around as you reach your hand into the bottom of the Doritos bag for another straight night.
Scary how I know where you’re at huh? Fortunately, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with sticking to their fat loss resolutions. This is more of an issue of psychology and behavior change rather than a physical fitness or dieting concern.
You know you’re supposed to diet and exercise. Those things are good for you. That’s a no brainer. What you don’t realize is your psychology is stubborn and rationalizes poorly on your behalf.
Humans think that a New Year will bring change. However, the only change is the calendar year switching. Apart from that, you yourself have to change. More specifically, your behaviors, environment, intentions, and even relationships have to change.
If you expect to suddenly change because you set a New Year’s resolution, you’re gravely mistaken. That’s not to say setting New Year goals are bad. In fact, some research even finds it helpful, but there is so much more to it (1). The real objective is not to have cool goals. The objective is to actually accomplish cool goals.
So with the tough love mostly out of the way, let’s get into how you can actually stick to your New Year’s resolution and get the lean body you want.
Form Better Habits
Everybody wants change, but nobody wants to change. Unfortunately, your behavior is what determines where you’ll be in a few months. It’s about doing, not talking.
Furthermore, it’s not only about what you do today, it’s about what you do tomorrow and the day after that.
Repetitive behaviors are what we call habits (2). We all have endless habits without realizing it whether It’s as simple as brushing your teeth or as nuanced as buying a dozen donuts and binge eating every time you think about your ex.
What you do consistently is essentially the train that you’re taking towards a destination. If you’re looking to lose body fat, you have to reverse engineer that goal and break it down into a few key habits to practice.
These habits will make or break your results because it’s this simple:
- Either put in the work and eventually ride your way to victory.
- Or you don’t and your lack of action takes you on a train away from your goals.
Fortunately, when it comes to fat loss, a few key changes is all you need to start melting fat off your body.
For example, it could be as simple as tracking all your calories, eating 2 fistfuls of vegetables at every meal, and working out four times per week.
If most people could do the above, the world would be an infinitely leaner place. It’s not rocket science, but I get it. You’re a human. You’re prone to mistakes and while the game plan is simple, it’s not always easy. Do this next.
Make It Specific
When you’re struggling to reach your goals. You have to make your habits more specific (3). Being specific is not disordered behavior. There is nothing wrong with drinking the same exact protein shake between meals or working out at the exact same time/day each week.
It’s not obsessive, quite the opposite actually. Specific routines and behaviors take the guesswork and stress out of things because you know exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it.
Vagueness will kill your goals. Think about it. Which of these people will stick to their training program better?
- Person A who will try to workout 4 days per week.
- Person B who has scheduled 4 workouts into his calendar each week at specific times.
You’ve been person A for too long. Get specific with your behaviors. Preciseness will hold you accountable.
Another way to increase the likelihood of behavior change is to start small. We want big grand changes, but it’s quite hard to go from couch potato to training 7 times per week.
Don’t aim for big changes. They don’t work because your ambitions don’t match your actions.
If you’re struggling to stick to your New Years Resolution, you don’t need to try harder, you need to lower your expectations.
The funny thing is, when you start small, it can grow into bigger habits with bigger results. This is how successful dieters do it. They don’t actually seek to lose 30-40 pounds right away. They seek out to lose 1-2 pounds. Then they try to lose another 1-2 pounds. Eventually, this snowballs into something bigger.
But you have to start small. Do what you can manage and then scale from there. If you’ve never worked out before, aim for 3 workouts per week for 45 minutes each.
If you suck at dieting, focus on eating more protein and veggies instead of doing some extreme diet.
There’s nothing like personal accountability. You need to have people to prevent you from falling off the deep end into another dozen donuts. Put your ego on the line.
You may think you can do it by yourself, but you’ve tried that for years. You need someone to hold you accountable because your own biology doesn’t find diet and exercise comfortable. It would much rather lay on the couch and inhale a bucket of fried chicken.
To mitigate that, find a coach, friend, or family member to hold you accountable. Get clear on what you want to accomplish and the exact habits that you will practice to take you there. Accountability is not just on them, but also on you. You have to be willing to accept the consequences and be vulnerable with any shortcomings.
A good rule of thumb is to find somebody who is empathetic and encouraging, but also willing to call you out on your bs.
You do that and watch your life change.
Modeling Behavior Change
So reaching your New Year’s Resolution comes down to changing your behaviors. Changing your behaviors comes down to practicing habits. And successful habit practicing comes down to starting small, being specific, and staying accountable.
There’s no shortcuts around this. In the words of Montell Jordan, “This is how we do it.“
- A;, Oscarsson. “A Large-Scale Experiment on New Year’s Resolutions: Approach-Oriented Goals Are More Successful than Avoidance-Oriented Goals.” PloS One, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33296385/.
- Lally, Phillippa, et al. “How Are Habits Formed: Modelling Habit Formation in the Real World.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 16 July 2009, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejsp.674.
- Gollwitzer, Peter M., and Paschal Sheeran. “Implementation Intentions and Goal Achievement: A Meta‐Analysis of Effects and Processes.” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Academic Press, 7 May 2006, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065260106380021.