Raise your hand if you kept all of your New Year's resolutions in 2013. Good, okay, now only raise your hand if you weren't lying just now. Ahh, nice to see both of you. We always start the new year with the best intentions but, man, old habits die hard. Let's see if we can do better this year. Here are five tips that might just help.
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Eventually we'll all be slaves to robots and computers but, in the meantime, let's make them work for us. The website Gym-Pact (and its accompanying iOS and Android apps) are custom-built to help you follow through on the goals you set for yourself.
Essentially, you input how many times you want to work out in a week. Then, if you don't meet your workout goals, you have to pay. Like, pay actual money. There's an upshot, though: If you do hit all of your workouts, then Gym-Pact pays you! I guess there's always a surplus of slackers. It's pretty slick, and that cold hard cash (incoming or outgoing) might just provide the extra motivation you need.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways you can tech yourself out for fitness. A simple activity tracker like the Fitbit Force, the Withings Pulse, or the Basis B1 Band will give you insight into your daily activities and can help set goals and precisely track your progress toward meeting them.
Shout It Out
Yeah, it's kind of lame to be talking about working out or weight-loss stuff on social media, but suck it up and embrace it. Publicly declaring your fitness goals on Facebook or Twitter, where all your friends can see it, really puts the pressure on you. You can even encourage people to check in on you periodically, if you want. Public failure is one of the most pervasive fears out there, and most of us will go through great lengths to avoid it, even if it means having a mango instead of some cheesecake, and going for a jog on your lunch break.
You can even set consequences for yourself. "If you ask me and I haven't been working out threes time a week, then you get to rip out five chest-hairs." Or something. Be creative.
Recruit a Friend
My friends Wilson and Kimberly have a thing they call "Accountability Club." The principle is essentially the same as above, except it's a private shaming, not a public one. Basically, you've got goals, and you link up with a friend who also has goals. You don't have to have a common goal; you just both have to have a real desire to follow through on your own plans.
Essentially, it involves simple check-ins, ideally every day. For example, you might call each other first thing in the morning. "Okay, what are you going to get done today?" Answer: "I'm going to run 5K and do at least seven minutes of abs by 7pm." Then you call and check in at 7pm. "Did you do it?" If yes, high five! If no, the consequences are up to you.
Of course, this works even better if you have the same goal and live near each other, so you can work out together. A gym-buddy (or a swim-buddy, or running-buddy) might be the best motivator there is, because you're letting someone down if you're not showing up, but with technology bringing us closer that's not absolutely necessary anymore.
Join a Team
What's better than a workout buddy? How about a whole group of workout buddies? Find yourself a local, amateur sports team to join. There are tons of amateurs sports leagues in virtually every city. Basketball, volleyball, hell even dodgeball. Ideally it's a sport that not only makes you work up a sweat, but one that practices once or twice a week. You'll be more motivated to follow through because people are depending on you, and you'll have a better time exercising because you're focused on the game.
Alternatively, you could look into something like Team In Training. This non-profit organization provides all of the necessary training you need to complete a race, which may be one of your resolutions in the first place. There are dosens of events thoughout the year that they'll help you train for (running, cycling, swimming, and triathlon events at varying distances), and their success rate is incredibly high. Not only will they provide you with a mentor and train you several times a week with top-level coaches, but you will be raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as you go. It's a great motivator to show up even when you don't want to.
Fill the Void
Is there something you've always kind of dreamed of trying? Do it. Take a surf lesson. Or is one of your resolutions to spend more time outdoors this year? Take up backpacking. Or maybe you vowed to spend more time with your kids? Sign yourselves up for something active, like indoor rock-climbing. The point is that you're more likely to put in the effort if you're killing two birds with one stone, doing the work of getting into better shape while also taking care of one of your deep desires. It sounds cheesy, but it works.
Also, as we noted a few weeks ago you can use the power of adrenaline to your advantage. By upping the fun-quotient and working out in ways that stimulate different parts of your brain, you can make exercise both exciting and addictive. It'll be something you want to keep doing—and isn't that the ultimate goal? Not to force yourself to do something horrible three times a week, but to get in shape while increasing your overall happiness and enjoyment of life? To make being active your new habit? We think it is. Find something you love to do that makes your heart race, and keep doing it.
Of course there are many other tips and tricks to sticking to your goals, these are just our favorites. If you've got some of your own, please share them below, and may 2014 see us all hit the best shape of our lives.
Image credit: Shutterstock/TZIDO SUN