A New Year, A New You, A New Outlook

Nearly a month into the New Year, our initial enthusiasm to become a new, better version of ourselves may be slightly fading. The motivation to make it to the gym everyday rain or shine and shun all sweets has slowed. Every year, we make plans to change some things in our life, big or small, with the hope that a new year will bring with it the possibility of something better—something new.

Despite our best intentions, sometimes we falter, and sometimes we fail. Sometimes, we fall short of our own sky-high expectations. This year, on the anniversary of the third week of the new year, I resolved to take it easy on myself. As someone who has always set very high goals and worked feverishly to execute them as soon as humanly possible, I found myself in a panic more often than I’d like to attest to. Year after year, I found myself making my resolutions in private and guarding them as such with fear that if I were to fail on any of my goals, it would be a public failure. This year, I am trying a different approach.

As human beings, we crave social interaction—whether we like to admit it or not, we need the outside validation—not only to categorize our progress as good or bad, but also to remind ourselves that progress of some sort has been made. So, in setting our goals and working to achieve them, we should also try to share those goals with those we love and trust. I’ve found that the act of verbalizing what you hope to achieve not only builds a sense of unparalleled accountability, but also creates a sense of community and support. When others are aware of what you want to accomplish, they can serve as a cheerleader for you when you make progress, and comfort and continue to push you when you falter.

Women’s Health this week wrote about the benefits of engaging a friend in working out and reaching your fitness foals. They cited research that has found that 80 percent of people believe they are more likely to workout and stick to their routines if they partner up. A study from the University of Pittsburgh reports that women who exercised with a friend lost a third more weight than those who hit the gym alone.

Training in tandem ups your accountability and intensity. “You’re less likely to skip out on workouts, and you’re more likely to tackle intimidating moves and tough out those last few reps that you might have let slide if you were on your own,” says Shannon Yontz, who co-owns True North Fitness & Health in Ventura, California, with her husband (who’s also her training partner).

It has been proven that social support can ameliorate stress. Eliminating as much stress associated with setting and reaching lofty goals will not only help you achieve some of them, but also put in perspective what is feasible. Including others and asking for help, even experts have said is a necessity.

This year, if we work to share our goals, aspirations successes and failures, we may not only find that we will get closer than ever to achieving our resolutions, but that we may enjoy the journey getting there. Honestly, the process may be sweeter than the end result.

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