If you’re making your New Year’s resolution to get a “hot bod,” you’re already in trouble. Well … maybe.
There’s nothing wrong with using New Year’s to start a new fitness regime, says JOURNEYFIT founder Victoria Thomas. But that’s only as long as you’re establishing self-discipline to stick to that regime once the holiday passes.
“All of these people can utilize New Year’s to create discipline,” Thomas says. “But if they find themselves repeatedly attaching their motivation to holiday seasons, or moments or experiences, like New Year’s, then it’s birthday that it’s wedding, then it’s vacation, they’ll never create true discipline.”
Thomas is all about sustaining your fitness goals, whether that’s scheduling your workouts, finding an accountability partner, eating healthier, or signing up for a trainer and getting started that journey immediately. So, to help you achieve your own fitness goals, or even to just keep your resolutions for a respectable amount of time, we sought out Thomas for advice.
Avoid crash diets.
At the beginning of the year, people get excited to see drastic change from dieting (I’m finally gonna go keto!), but Thomas advises folks to stay away from weight-loss goals.
“We rely on the scale to give us the gratification,” she says. “I mean, the scale holds your success and your failure. And there’s too much power in that when it’s not telling a full story.”
Losing weight is complicated, and it doesn’t just rely on dieting and working out—your gut health can impact metabolism, as can sleep, alcohol and water intake, the amount of dairy you’re ingesting, ailments like PCOS and IBS, and more. “It’s not calories in, calories out anymore,” Thomas says.
Thomas prefers a more reliable factor than the scale: body fat percentage (the percentage of your body fat mass divided by your total mass).
“Everybody’s so number of weight dominant,” she says, “that they’re not realizing that the body fat percentage really controls the weight; it’s not the other way around.”
Nutrition, though, is important to having a healthy body fat percentage. Make sure you’re drinking enough water—at least three-fourths of a gallon a day, Thomas says. Have a good number of vegetables with every meal to get a proper amount of fiber. Meal prep at the beginning of the week. Eat either six small meals or three medium meals with snacks throughout the day, she says, to “get your body in the best momentum to really burn fat.”
Stay consistent until April.
The goal for any health or fitness resolution is regularity, Thomas says. She suggests working out at least twice a week through the first quarter of the year. “That’s something that’s very mild and sustainable,” she says. “It’s more focused on the consistency than it is about number.”
And try to stay focused on gradual change, too. Things aren’t going to happen immediately. “Everything is like a week-to-week assessment,” she says, “but I like to take and compare months to months.”
The first big change you’ll notice is how your clothes fit, Thomas says. After that is when you can take a look a your body fat percentage. And if you’re really struggling to see progress, Thomas suggests taking update photos of your body—just like all those before-and-after pics your gym rat friends post on Instagram.
“Juxtaposing the pictures by the pictures week by week,” Thomas says, you know you should be able to see your body change weekly, but but you will see a drastic change month to month.”
Incorporate self-care and balance.
Thomas says one of the most impactful resolutions she’s ever made is incorporating more balance in her life by practicing self-care.
“I actually became a better owner, became a better trainer. I became a better nutrition coach, I became a better friend, a better sister, a better daughter,” she says, “like, I just became a better person overall, incorporating more balance.
For Thomas, self-care can be anything, like massages, therapy, or taking time off (“That’s like a curse word to me.”), which allows her body to physically recover from working out. It can be spending time with a loved one or just lying on the couch for a while—as long as it refreshes you, Thomas says.
But for balance to work, you have to make it a priority. “It’s just like your priority is to go to work, just like your priorities to get your kids to school. Just like that type of priority,” Thomas says. “It’s rhythmic, it’s routine.”
Thomas suggests scheduling it into your week and then sticking to that schedule. Whatever your planned activity is, write it down, and let your friends and family know—they can join you if they want, or they’ll better understand when you’re busy.
“It’s about scheduling what that is and saying when somebody invites you out,” she says, “‘oh, I can’t I have a date with myself to do my self-care.’”