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7 Tips for Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you, but 2015 took its toll on me; my lifestyle changed dramatically, grief and depression initiated some bad diet choices that eventually became habits (excessive sweets, lots of cheese and more fried foods than I’d care to admit). My strong-willed days of working out for 4+ hours a day and following the WHOLE30 Program seem long behind me, buried with my hard-focused goal of becoming an Olympian. But, I’ve sacrificed too many of my good habits, and I refuse to let my rough past year defeat me. Thank God for the New Year.I am welcoming 2016 with open arms.

Last year was a roller-coaster of a ride for me and though I don’t doubt that 2016 will have its fair share of challenges, I’m feeling very optimistic about the year ahead. In the past, I haven’t been the biggest fan of New Year’s resolutions because I was consistently motivated and didn’t need a kick-in-the-butt to get me going. This year, that’s not the case, but my years of goal-setting for skiing have helped me strategize how to become the best version of myself in 2016.

So on that note, here are my 7 tips for making your new year’s resolutions stick!

#1: Focus On the “WHY”

This may sound obvious, but if we set a goal or a resolution about something that we don’t truly value, our motivation won’t help us push through the sacrifices in order to attain it. Do you really want a rock-hard body and a 6-pack, or do you want to wake up feeling energized and strong? Dial-in on the WHY behind what you want (i.e- I want a rock-hard body so that I feel good about in my body) and begin focusing on the latter part of the statement- feeling good in your body. Sure, weight-loss and dieting goals are one of the most common to set, studies show 66% of people set fitness goals for the new year, but is that really what you’re after? Maybe adding some yoga or meditation into your day, a little extra time in nature, or a 30 minute walk with your dog several days of the week will reconnect you with your body in a way that allows you to not only feel good about it but also in it.

Walking Lunges: Stand with dumbbells grasped to sides or a barbell on your shoulders. Step forward with first leg. Land on heel then forefoot. Lower body by flexing knee and hip of front leg until knee of rear leg is almost in contact with floor. Stand on forward leg with assistance of rear leg. Lunge forward with opposite leg. Repeat by alternating lunge with opposite legs.

Ready to get this body back, not for how it looks, but for how it feels!

#2: Be Specific

Me and my sister took our dad to the National Ability Center to sit-ski on Christmas Day 2014. We had no idea it would be our last Christmas together.

Me and my sister took our dad to the National Ability Center to sit-ski on Christmas Day 2014. We had no idea it would be our last Christmas together.

If we aren’t specific about what we are trying to achieve, it’s impossible to gauge our progress. If we can’t gauge our progress, it’s easy to lose motivation. And if we lose motivation… well, you can see where I’m going with this. You want to lose weight? Great, how much and in what time frame? You want to improve your finances? In what ways? Reduce your debt? By how much and by when? One of my resolutions this year is to “be a better citizen.” If I left it at that, I’m not sure I’d do much more than loan sugar to my neighbor when he or she should ask. So, I’ve broken it down: once a month I will give back to my community in some way. There are lots of options here, but some things on my agenda for this winter are to volunteer with the National Ability Center and to organize an event with SheJumps.org. I’m using the next two weeks to build out that plan in month-by-month detail.

#3: Be Realistic

Yes, I want to improve my diet, cut my body fat percentage, and lose a little bit of weight. Yes, I’ve followed strict plans in the past, but my life situation is different now. If I say that I’m going to start eating paleo again and plan to workout two hours a day, 5 days a week, I’m just setting myself up for failure. So instead, I’m cutting any added sugar on days that start with “S” and eating real food breakfasts 5 days a week. You may think this is backwards, but for me, it’s realistic. During the work week I have less time and more stress. Food is my drug of choice, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m currently eating added sugars of some kind everyday. Two days is a great place to start. It provides a foundation from which I can begin implementing better choices over time. Also, I’m less likely to eat out during the week, so I’ll be exposed to less temptation- the weekends are when the temptations really strike.

#4: Pair Something You LOVE With Your Resolution

One of my favorite ways to pass time on a road-trip is the Freakonomics podcast. The podcast came to be following the great success of the book by economist, Steven Levitt and writer, Steven Dubner. One of the more compelling casts that I listened to this year was titled “When Willpower Isn’t Enough.” In it, Katherine Milkman (PhD in Computer Science and Business) presents her theory of “temptation bundling.” She proposes that if you pair two things, like your new year’s resolution (something you should do, but don’t entirely want to do), with something you really enjoy, but shouldn’t be doing (like watching TV), then you’ll be more likely to stick with your resolution. For me, this means pairing foam-rolling and stretching with an episode of Homeland. (Note: If you value your time, don’t start watching this series! It’s so addictive!) The key is that you must make a rule that you can ONLY do or have the thing you like, if you’re doing what you’ve resolved to do. So, are there two things that you’d be able to pair together to give this method a shot?

#5: Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

I have twice signed up for Deepak Chopra’s and Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day Meditation Challenge only to make it part way through day 2 before dropping out. I would see the daily emails containing links to the20110302_J_Hudak_037 day’s meditation and would convince myself that I’d just start a few days later where I had left off. In fact, I’m pretty sure I still have all the emails, unopened in my inbox… The main reason for this failure wasn’t lack of time or lack of desire it was my failure to acknowledge my surroundings. This includes people, spaces, animals and objects. There was a shy part of me that wanted to try to meditate in private, to secretly sneak away from my fiancee so that I could meditate, without needing to explain why I
wanted to start this practice. So, I woke up before him to meditate on the first day of the challenge, sat down on my couch and pressed play. It wasn’t 5 minutes before my dogs were disrupting me because they needed breakfast, and by the time they were fed, my fiancee was awake. Then I felt embarrassed to say I needed
some time to finish my morning meditation. The reality is that Chris would be entirely supportive if I had clued him and would probably have helped me find 20 quite minutes a day for 21 days… So, what is it in your surroundings that may be getting in your way? Are you able to turn that hindrance into an asset?

#6: Write It Down, Type It Up, Print It Out & HANG IT UP!

When I was competing full time and trying to be the best in the world at a sport that involved a significant amount of risk, I had to push beyond my comfort levels A LOT! It wasn’t easy. If I had

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 28: UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session at the Sheraton Rio Hotel on July 28, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – JULY 28: UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session at the Sheraton Rio Hotel on July 28, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

relied solely upon myself and was not accountable to anyone else, I would never have become a 2 time world champion or X-Games gold medalist. Every single goal was written down. Every big goal was broken down into smaller goals, and each of those goals was WRITTEN DOWN! I shared them with my coach, Elana Chase, and she kept me accountable for my actions. This is probably one place where my over-developed sense of responsibility has served me quite well, and yours can too. I understand, you probably don’t have a coach or trainer by your side when that ice cream craving strikes, but if you clue your family and friends in, they can keep you in check. (Just don’t get mad at them when they actually do try to keep you line!) Another trick I’ve used in the past is posting an image of what I’m striving for near a source of temptation. You know the saying “out of site, out of mind?” Well, these images make sure that your goals are not forgotten, whether they be an image of Ronda Rousey on your fridge, or a picture of the new car your saving for tied around your credit card.

#7: “Fresh-Start Effect”

Another interesting tidbit that I learned from my Freakonomics friends is the notion of a “fresh-start effect.” This phenomenon describes an aspect of the human psyche which keeps a tally of events and files them away into segments of time. Thus, on January 1st, we are able to reflect on our lives in great perspective, write-off the happenings of the previous year, and move forward into the next. The key takeaway here is that we can create these time periods at any point. Every day is the start of a new 365-day cycle: the first of the month, the start of a new season, or following a birthday. If you aren’t quite ready to make a new year’s resolution, don’t force it. Keep your eye other opportunities for a fresh start and move forward when aspiration is it’s strongest. You don’t have to wait for the next January 1st.

Please share your thoughts on what helps you stick to new year’s resolutions in the comment section below! You’ll be entered to win a POC Auric helmet and an Under Armour jacket of your choice! I’ll select the winner next Monday night, January 11, 2016 at 6 pm MST.

16 responses to “7 Tips for Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick”

  1. Stephanie Frontiera says:

    Hello:

    I met you several years ago at Blizzard Ski Party in Boston! You have been a huge influence on my motivation and training. For 2016 I’m going to try and live life to its fullest with no regrets. I would like to stay consistent with going to the gym and feel better about myself as that isn’t always easy with stress.

    Thank you for entering me into your contest.
    Stephanie F

    • jenhudak says:

      Hi Stephanie! Great to hear from you again and thanks for sharing your resolutions. Who knows what is to come after this life, so we better shoot for our dreams. All the best to you in 2016 and beyond!

  2. Courtney says:

    My New Years resolution will be to work less and do more of what makes me happy, like skiing and biking. I’m also adopting a dog that is scared of children. My goal is to orient it to learn how to be around people better and make sure she lives a long happy life. My third goal is to eat eat more veggies daily!

    • jenhudak says:

      Hi Courtney, thanks for sharing! How wonderful to adopt a dog, and especially one that is scared of children. I adopted my dog over 9 years ago now and he has been there for me through thick and thin. There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog. Happy New Year!

  3. Carolyn Wawra says:

    Hi Jen!
    Great post! Cheers to 2016! I’m kinda “green” and normally try to make my New Years resolution help lessen my impact on the environment. In 2011, I stopped drinking bottled water because it’s wasteful. Why spend money to drink water that’s been shipped here, polluting the environment and wasting resources to produce? That resolution stuck. I haven’t drank bottled water since 2011.

    For 2016, I’m commiting to meatless Mondays. One day a week with no meat. I learned in 2015, that the biggest thing we can do to reduce our carbon footprint is to reduce our meat consumption. Even by one day. I’m not ready to go vegetarian- need to learn some new recipes! But for 2016, this is a great start.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    • jenhudak says:

      Hi Carolyn, thanks and happy new year! I love your dedication to the environment and for sticking with no bottled water since 2011. I should follow your lead on that one, but my thirst overpowers my forgetfulness sometimes. Good choice for this year on cutting back on meat. I believe beef consumption in particular, leaves a huge footprint! I was a vegetarian for 5 years and started eating meat again when I was training really hard. Now that I’ve stopped lifting as much, I find I don’t crave it nearly as much. I’ll pass along some old veggie recipes if you’re interested!

      • Carolyn Wawra says:

        Hi Jen!

        Thanks for taking the time to acknowledge each of our replies and come across so supportive – it means a lot!

        Carolyn

  4. Rhea says:

    Jen- thanks for the inspiration! 2016 will be a big year- I am graduating college and beginning the rest of my life! Above all, I want to continue having fun. Skiing, rafting, backpacking, and just being outside make me happy. No matter how hectic my post-college life gets, I want to keep fun in the forefront of my life. I also want to challenge myself in 2016. Applying for jobs I may not get, skiing off some bigger cliffs, and getting out of my comfort zone are goals of mine. As long as I keep doing things that may be scary, I will improve my skills and the enjoyment I get out of life. Happy 2016!

    • jenhudak says:

      Hey Rhea, congrats on graduating college! What an exciting time! Just remember, life does not need to be an either/or kind of thing, you can have a fulfilling career and still get outside to do all of the things you love! I really appreciate your go-for-it attitude. Embedded in failure are our greatest life lessons, so striving for challenging situations is an incredible way to grow. All the best to you in 2016!

  5. k_hem says:

    This year I don’t want to make a resolution to loose 10lbs, or learn a new language, or carpool more. Instead I am challenging myself to complain less and encourage more. With a different mindset and reset on way of approaching goals, I hope 2016 will be the best year yet!

    • jenhudak says:

      Kelly! HIIII! I love this. I find myself getting caught up in complaints and realize how much worse I am able to make the situation seem compared to how it actually feels. Good thought. Hope to see you soon and happy new year!

      • k_hem says:

        It’s one of the toughest I have attempted, and still find myself breaking it daily. Call it “personal betterment” instead of a resolution or goal. Hope you had a wonderful Holiday with your family, and look forward to some snow and turns with you soon!! XoXo

  6. Nicole brandt says:

    Jen,
    Thank you for sharing where you are at! Taking the time to right down specific goals without accountability is so hard and I admire your courage to publish those goals and put them out for all to see!

    Last year my goal was three purposeful breaths a day. This year my goal is to set a timer, anywhere, anytime I need or think about it, and sit.
    For two minutes.
    Breathe.
    Observe.
    For me personally it’s the effort to start a meditation practice without the ability to sit still for longer yet. So I am trying to start small and incorporate it into something I can acually accomplish, measure with a timer, and be successful with!

    There are other mountain goals with skiing and climbing and peak bagging specifics broken into Q1-4, but that would take a whole blog post such as yours 😉

    Thanks again for the motivation to share what’s on your heart with others!

    Nicole

    • jenhudak says:

      Happy New Year Nicole, and thank YOU for sharing as well. I think this is such a great way to start a meditation practice. I was talking to my mom last night about beginning meditation and I’ll have to pass along your strategy to her! 2 minutes are better than 0 minutes! Good luck with the rest of Q1-4 goals as well, those sound FUN! 🙂

  7. Anne Galyean says:

    Hi Jen!

    Thank you for the thoughtful post. I’m not usually one for resolutions, but you have me a bit more perspective on them here. For me, I’d like to learn to ski this year and do a backcountry adventure by the end of the season. Finally, I’d like to work on keeping life in perspective – something I’ve often struggled with. With a full time scientific career, sometimes training and racing bikes takes a back seat. That never stopped me from beating myself up about not training enough! My goal is to accept my work life balance and be more compassionate with myself.

    Best of luck in 2016, hope to see you out on the MTB trails this summer!

    • jenhudak says:

      Hi Anne, thanks so much for posting, I’m glad I was able to provide a slightly different perspective, that’s what communities should be about (in my opinion)… You are such a success on the bike and in your academic/professional career. It’s so interesting to hear from people like you and to recognize that the most successful of us can often be the most self-critical. I’ve had to take a bit of that into account this year as I just started my first 9-5 job and am finishing school, while still trying to be a professional athlete. Yet somehow I still find ways to beat myself up for not spending more time in the gym, on my bike or on my skis. We should start a support group!

      Let me know if you want help with that “learn how to ski” thing. I’d be happy to lend my expertise! Can’t wait to ride bikes with you again next summer.

      Happy New Year!

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