How is it going with your New Year’s fitness resolutions?

If the question makes you cringe in frustration or despair, do not feel bad: you aren’t alone. According to recent polls, as few as 8% of those making resolutions truly carry out decisions made during winter holidays – and weight loss, improved fitness, and dieting are the top three among these commitments. One of the main reasons why most people abandon their New Year’s resolutions is a lack of motivation. However dead-set on your goal you may be in the first week of the New Year, time has a nasty habit of munching on your determination and workout drive. This is why investing an active effort in the pursuit of both your fitness objectives and workout enthusiasm is essential to success.

1. Remember the whys and wherefores.
The first step on the quest for improved fitness is not simply taking action and establishing a new set of habits, it is knowing the reason why you are doing it. On days when showing up for a gym session, taking the stars instead of the elevator, making your own meals, or walking to work seems like a waste of time and energy, remind yourself why it is important. The reason to invest an extra hour in an activity that does not entail instant gratification can be losing 20 pounds, improved health, a sexier beach body, increased muscle mass, or anything else, as long as it has tangible value for you.

2. Monitor your fitness progress.
Keep tabs on the progress of your workout mission with the help of a training journal where you will enter the number of reps, lifts, pounds lost, duration of training, waistline or muscle circumference, and other details relevant to your goal. When motivation drops, go back to the log: seeing the way you have come so far can help muster energy and resolve to go break more sweat instead of abandoning the fitness path once you have already crossed a good section of it.

3. Reward yourself for achievements.
Rewards for a work well done are excellent motivators, and essential for long-term success. Knowing the reasons to maintain a strict workout schedule is one half of the success formula, and getting immediate rewards is the other. Incentives to keep up the good work can be a pair of new Ryder yoga pants, a week-long workout break, an extra cheat day once a month, or another treat that you would normally deny yourself.

4. Compete with yourself – or anyone else.
People with the mindset of a winner can use their competitiveness as a motivation source. It may sound sly, but you can privately compete against another gym-goer, colleague, training partner, fitness coach, or the fastest joggers in the park. Or, if you deem others as weak competition, try to beat your personal fitness records: this is also an extremely healthy incentive granted you do not over-train or allow workouts to become an obsession.

5. Do not let hard times bring you down.
In case you fall ill, suffer an injury, or are otherwise prevented from observing a regular training schedule, do not be overly critical of yourself. There will be times when you will not be able to exercise, and that is okay, for as long as you do not throw in your towel for good. Even if you do not feel like showing up at the gym or going for a morning run, do it just for the warm-ups, and pat yourself on the back for it. Action breeds more action. Returning to workouts after being sidelined is not easy but it is feasible.

6. Challenges and cheerleaders.
Do not sweat it out for the sake of the final outcome: the ultimate fitness goal may take months to achieve. Instead, work out focusing on the next milestone in your training agenda. Create a short-term plan and define the targets you want to achieve within a month: it can be incorporating 30 minutes of physical activity a day, losing 3 pounds, keeping your training schedule without skipping a single session, or running one more mile every week. When the road gets tough, tap into imagination for motivation. imagine the crowds going wild as you show up for the workout for the third time in a week or make that one extra mile.

Motivation will get you started; habits and motivation will keep you going. Are you ready to beat yourself in the fitness race?