If you’re like more than 80 percent of Americans, you made at least one resolution this year, and chances are pretty good that it has something to do with weight loss, improved eating habits, or getting healthier. Resolutions are great. Research has shown that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t make focused resolutions. The problem is that more than half of all people abandon their resolutions within the first three months of the new year.


If you are among the multitudes who made losing weight, improving your nutrition, or achieving better overall health as one of your resolutions for 2007, there are some very concrete steps you can take so that you actually adhere to them. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never kept a resolution in your life – you can do this, with a little help.


  • Don’t go it alone! Get professional assistance in the form of a qualified personal trainer. It never fails. The new year rolls around, and you think to yourself, "This year, I’m going to do it. I’m going to be disciplined enough, focused enough, committed enough to stick to this resolution." And then, when push comes to shove, you somehow fall down on the job with regard to that discipline, focus, and commitment. That is precisely when it is beneficial to have a professional in your corner to support you, encourage you, and teach you the best ways to achieve your weight loss, fitness, and nutrition goals. Studies have shown that employing a fitness professional to help you reach your goals more than doubles people’s success rate.


  • Choose an obtainable goal. Resolving to look like a super model is not realistic for most of us, but committing to a weight training program three days a week is very possible. A personal trainer can help you define your goals, as well as setting a realistic timeline for achieving them.


  • Create a game plan. This dovetails with the goal selection segment. The most important thing in sticking to your resolutions is making them realistic. The second most important thing, though, is creating a plan to achieve those goals. Again, a personal trainer can be of enormous help when it comes to creating a personalized nutrition and exercise plan that will work for you.


  • Break your resolution down to make it less intimidating. Rather than focusing exclusively on one BIG end goal, chop it into smaller pieces. Setting several smaller goals you want to achieve throughout the year will make reaching your ultimate goal much easier. For example, if your resolution is to train to run a marathon, your smaller goals could be running 3 miles a day for the first couple of months, adding time and distance as you move through the year, as well as incorporating strength training to increase your muscular endurance.


  • Have a contingency plan. Don’t assume that sticking to your resolution will automatically be smooth sailing, regardless of how determined you are. Know ahead of time that you will likely hit bumps along the road to your resolution and have specific backup strategies in place to help you overcome them. What will keep you from skipping your workout or stop you from having that latte on your way to work? Another way a personal trainer can be effective is in helping you anticipate your stumbling blocks and creating ways around them. He or she will keep you accountable and focused on achieving your goals.


  • Give it time. Most experts agree that it takes about 21 days to create a habit and up to six months for the behavior to actually become a part of your daily life. A trainer will help you stay motivated and focused on your ultimate goal.


  • Reward yourself for each milestone you hit. If you’ve stuck with your resolution for two months, treat yourself to something special. However, be careful of what you use as your reward. If you’ve lost 5 pounds, don’t run out to celebrate with pizza and beer. Instead, treat yourself to something healthful, relaxing, and supportive, like a professional massage or a manicure.


  • Remain flexible. Keep in mind that things change frequently. Your goals and needs may be very different in April than they were when you first made your resolution in January. Embrace this change, and ask your trainer to help you adjust your resolution accordingly.


  • Write down your resolution and record your progress. You’re likely aware of the "SMART" acronym for achieving goals. Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Keeping a record helps with all of those aspects of achieving your goal.


Are you ready? This year, your resolution does not have to crash and burn by the first of February. You can set a weight loss, fitness, or health goal and actually achieve it. If you follow these steps, you will have greater success than you’ve ever experienced in the past, even if you do it on your own.


But if you are really determined to create a new you this year, consider all of the benefits of having a qualified personal trainer in your corner. He or she will help you set realistic goals, create a game plan, break the goal down into smaller components, help you plan for roadblocks, keep you accountable, and enable you to achieve your goal by the date you have set.


Here’s to you and your resolutions. Make it a great 2007!