7 Tips to Turn New Years Resolutions Into Reality

Originally published in Maury County Living

With the new year beginning, resolutions are on everyone’s mind. However, the motivation to stick with a goal can quickly diminish as spring approaches. For many, January is a time to recommit to health and wellness goals, but exercise plans can be daunting. Dave Kempfert, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee, offers his best practices to making fitness a priority all year long.

1. Choose the right workout

The key to creating a successful exercise plan is choosing the right type of exercise for your needs. This starts with identifying your goals such as losing weight, increasing strength or boosting mental health. “Make sure it’s your resolution, not someone else’s,” said Kempfert. “No one will follow through with something they are not personally motivated by.” Traditional gyms are not the only place to get in a workout, and there are lots of ways to stay in shape, so do your research. Still don’t know where to start? Kempfert suggests a baseline of 20-30 minutes of activity a day. A short walk or bike ride might not seem like a large commitment, but it can set you on a path for better health.

2. Know Your Limits

When starting a new exercise routine, you need to be aware of your experience level and limitations. “Failing to give your body time to adjust to new activity can result in sprains, strains and tendonitis, which can lead to potential loss of ability to continue with your plan, as well as lead to a loss of motivation,” Kempfert says. To successfully reach your goal, he advises being realistic about your limits such as the amount of time you have to exercise as well as physical limitations.

3. Start With The Basics

“People sometimes get focused on details before they have tackled basic movement patterns that are crucial for proper form and a successful workout,” says Kempfert. He advises starting your workout program with large dynamic movements that build strength in larger muscle groups.

4. Share Your Experience

Another great way to stick to your resolution is to share your exercise journey with others. According to Kempfert, committing to a goal with a partner is a great way to boost motivation.

“Gyms are a great way to socialize and meet like-minded people who encourage you to push yourself,” he says. If you need more structure and direction, try group classes like CrossFit or barre that you can enjoy with others. Whether it’s meeting new people at the gym, signing up for a yoga class with a family member or a little friendly competition on a run, being active with others can encourage you to achieve your goals.

5. Utilize Your Resources

With all the programs and options available, it can be overwhelming to know how to get started toward your fitness goals. Kempfert suggests finding qualified professionals such as personal trainers or dieticians who can help you build a personalized plan. Finding a trainer who can help you learn proper form and technique is critical to avoid over/undertraining and injury, Kempfert warns. “Look for a trainer who listens to you and understands your goals,” he says. A dietician can ensure that you are fueling your body with the best nutrition along the way. There are many great online resources for at-home workouts and meal prepping that can help you achieve your goals but taking the time to research the best options for you is what really leads to success.

6. Give Yourself Grace

People often lose motivation or give up on their fitness goals because they do not see results immediately. Being fit does not necessarily mean that you are at your ideal weight. “People say they are not losing weight but fail to see the other great results that come from working out,” says Kempfert. Exercise can increase strength, improve overall health and release endorphins to boost mental health, all of which are reason enough to redefine your idea of success.

Above all else, listening to your body is crucial. Taking a rest day or icing sore muscles can be beneficial and ultimately lead to better long-term results. However, if the pain does not subside with time, you may need to see a specialist. The physical therapists at Bone and Joint Institute can see you under Direct Access laws, meaning that they do not require a doctor’s referral for a visit if you become injured. These professionals can access your injury and give you exercise and activity recommendations for your personal needs so that a small injury does not progress to a longstanding impairment. “When it comes to fitness, consistency is key,” says Kempfert. “But remember to always listen to your body and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Dave Kempfert, PT, serves as the Director of Rehabilitation Services for Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee. A former collegiate All-American and NFL offensive lineman, he has spent 20 years as a physical therapist specializing in outpatient orthopaedics and sports medicine physical therapy.