After weeks of celebrating the holidays with delicious food and drinks, many gyms see their memberships double in January. People join the gym with aspirations to become healthier and fit. Regardless of the initial spike in that first month, gym attendance starts to go back to normal within a few weeks as people begin to lose their motivation. Even though 38% of people make weight related New Year’s resolutions, only 8% of them were successful in achieving those resolutions in 2016.

If you really want to make your fitness resolutions last this upcoming year, here are 5 tips on how you can do just that.

  1. Create a Plan, Write it Down, and Measure it

Those who write down their goals accomplish significantly more than those who don’t. You are 42% more likely to achieve your goals just by committing them to paper.

Your goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. SMART goals require you to be clear about what you want to achieve. It will and should motivate you to take action since you are able to see and celebrate your progress. Also, having a plan will help you overcome any obstacles.

A common New Year’s resolution is “I want to lose weight”, but this statement is not specific or detailed enough to motivate you to work towards this goal. Make your resolution SMARTer by writing down this goal instead: “I want to lose 4 pounds in the next 4 weeks by cooking my own lunches and dinners 5 days a week and exercising 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes a session.”

  1. Be Realistic, Break It Up, and Manage Your Time

The key to a maintainable resolution is to make small changes gradually. Stepping out of your comfort zone is already hard to do, so the best way to get to your goal is by working towards your goal at a slow and steady pace. Break down your goal into smaller, achievable steps. Don’t burn yourself out by starting with an intense plan that you will not be able to maintain. You will feel discouraged if you create unattainable goals, or unattainable plans to meet your goals, which will then make you quit trying.

Start with daily and weekly goals: “Go to the gym 3 times this week for one hour each time and bring a home-cooked lunch to work all week.” As the smaller, short-term goals get checked off, extend your goals to monthly and bi-yearly goals. These short-term goals (daily and weekly goals) will help you reach your long-term goals (for example, lose 20 pounds in 6 months and run a half-marathon by next year).

Time management is very important when trying to achieve any goal. We all lead very busy lives between our professional and social calendar; fitness can easily slip out of our schedule. If you don’t make it a priority, it won’t be done. Make your fitness routine work for your schedule – pick a time of the day when you will have the energy to do a workout, then build your calendar around that.

If you know you are going to have a very busy day and night, wake up early and workout, or try to fit one in during lunch. Meal prep on a Sunday for the rest of the week if you know you won’t be able to cook during the week. It does take effort to incorporate exercise and healthy planned meals into your busy schedule – but aren’t you worth it?

  1. Bring a Friend

Working out is so much more fun when you have someone to workout with. Begin your fitness journey with another friend who has also resolved to start exercising more in the New Year. Find something you both enjoy and you will have a strong support system and shared positive experiences. A workout buddy will hold you accountable and will be the motivation you need to get to the gym on days when all you want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV.

  1. Change It Up and Use the Right Tech

If your workout goal is to exercise multiple times during the week, think beyond the treadmill and weights. Sticking to one or two exercise formats can get pretty boring. Try out different formats like yoga, dance fitness, cycling, bootcamp, etc. The more variety you add to your routine, the more fun it will be.

The best way to try out a new format is to take a group exercise class and book it ahead of time. I personally use ClassPass – there are so many options all over the city. You can always find something different and interesting to try. It gives you a reason to commit to your workout because if you try to cancel the class within 12 hours of the start time, you incur a cancellation fee. So even when you don’t feel like going, you’re motivated to go because you don’t want to pay that fee.

There is so much fitness technology available that gives you the ability to track your progress and connect you with a supportive community. Some apps, like MyFitnessPal, give you access to a community who provides advice, support, and motivation. It’s easier to stay on track when you have people around you cheering you on.

I absolutely love my Fitbit! It lets me track my progress while connecting with my friends who are doing the same. You can have friendly competitions and earn badges for achieving certain milestones. You stay motivated and active because you can visually track your progress. Who hasn’t run around their living room at the end of the day just to hit 10,000 steps?

  1. Listen to Your Body

It is so important to listen to your body. You achieve your goals by pushing your body, but pushing yourself too much when you are in pain and/or exhausted is dangerous. Take a break when your body tells you to, or else you can end up setting yourself back with an injury or sickness.

If you listen to your body, it will tell you important things like when you’re tired, hungry, stressed, sick, dehydrated, or overworked. If you trust and honor your body’s signals, you will know when it is time to cut back on your workout, take an extra recovery day, drink more water, sleep more, etc. You are the expert on your body so it is important for you to listen to the messages it sends you.

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About the Author: 

Namisha grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and her first memory of dancing was dancing around the house to non-stop Hindi music. She started training in Kathak, a classical dance from North India, at 6 years old and traveled to Bangalore, India to train with Pandit Birju Maharaj, Saswati Sen, and Nadam Dance Troupe.

Through her dance career, she performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, ASHA, and was the inaugural dancer at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. In high school, she co-founded a dance studio, SuraChandam, and taught Bollywood, Contemporary and Kathak.

Namisha currently teaches at DogPatch Dance and Yoga in San Francisco on Mondays at 6:30pm, Stanford SCRA in Palo Alto on Tuesdays at 5pm, and the Palo Alto Family YMCA on Thursdays at 6pm.