Fitness expert and sought-after personal trainer Amie Hoff has seen it before. Within a few weeks after Jan. 1, sometimes even a few days, New Year’s fitness resolutions fizzle out and die.
The best of intentions for improved health — buoyed by the promise of a fresh start — come crashing down under the weight of old habits.
Hoff, a New York City personal trainer and University of Southern Maine graduate with ties to Portland, said willpower only goes so far. Where determination fails, a solid plan helps to keep fitness goals on track, she said.
“It’s those people who, the week before New Year’s, say, ‘Oh my gosh I have to make a New Year’s resolution, I make the same one every year, I’m going to stick to it this year, I’m going to lose 20 pounds. … They tend to fall back into their old patterns,” she said.
Certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and twice voted “Best Personal Trainer” by Allure magazine, Hoff was the exclusive personal trainer on the first season of “Making the Band,” an MTV reality series with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. She shared a few tips that have helped her clients stay on track with New Year’s fitness resolutions.
Set realistic goals
People rarely make a New Year’s resolution to lose three pounds. But breaking down an overall goal to drop, say 15-20 pounds, into smaller increments helps to fuel motivation, Hoff said. Shoot for shedding three to five pounds, then celebrate each mini-milestone.
Also, take heart in the other fitness benefits likely to crop up as you pursue better health, she said. A goal to lower your cholesterol could lead to weight loss and vice versa, not to mention perks such as toning up and sleeping better. Use those bonuses to keep you going if you’re struggling with your main fitness goal.
Make a plan for success
A fitness plan without preparation is a recipe for failure. If you plan to avoid sugar and processed food, sketch out your meals for the week on Sunday night. Otherwise, you’re much more likely to cave and grab pizza with co-workers for lunch, Hoff said.
Schedule exercise like you would a meeting.
“Bosses don’t cancel meetings, they don’t cancel on other people,” Hoff said. “You’re the boss.”
Planning to hit the gym after work? Bring your gym clothes to the office.
“If you have to go home after work before you go to the gym, I guarantee the chances of you getting back out the door will be minimal,” she said.
The gym’s not for everyone, so consider working out at home. Hoff and Beth Wieczorek, her sister and business partner, developed the FitKit, a compact bundle of fitness equipment including resistance bands and a jump rope, as a portable, total body workout for the gym-shy and frequent travelers.
If your downfall is a sweet tooth, pause before buying that chocolate bar to assess whether you’re turning to food to calm or suppress uncomfortable feelings, Hoff said. Battle the craving by brushing your teeth — a minty fresh mouth often can keep a hankering for sugar at bay, she said.
Record your achievements
Take the time to keep a journal of everything you eat, as well as your workouts. Log your daily and weekly successes. You’ll have a greater sense of commitment, stay focused, and feel more in control, Hoff said. Write it all down — in ink.
If social media is more your style, publicizing your efforts on Facebook or Twitter can help. But make sure you’re doing the work — Hoff has seen some people bask in the positive reinforcement of Facebook “likes” and encouragement after announcing plans for a jog, then never actually get around to lacing up their running shoes.
Don’t go it alone
Enlist a friend, family member, trainer or someone else to keep you accountable. A morning walk or evening gym session can also double as a great time to catch up with loved ones, Hoff said.
“If your alarm goes off and you know there’s somebody waiting for you at the gym, you’re going to be more likely to get up and go there,” she said.
Celebrate each milestone with a reward (not a chocolate chip cookie). Get a massage or facial, or, if you want to use food, plan a night out with your spouse or some friends at a nice restaurant and eat healthfully, Hoff said.
Money can also serve as a motivator. Every time you resist a craving for junk food, collect the money in a jar that you would have spent on cookies or chips and revel in seeing the savings pile up. Consider buying yourself a flattering workout outfit with that cash.
“You’re getting that satisfaction but in a different way,” Hoff said.
For information about Hoff and her business, or to purchase a FitKit, starting at $34.99, visit fitkit.com.