Resolutions Redux!

Give your indoor cycling resolutions a makeover and set yourself up for success

As you prepare to flip the calendar to 2016, you’ll probably join millions of people in the U.S. who embark on the annual tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Many people even make the same resolutions year after year and give up altogether within a matter of weeks. The reality is, New Year’s resolutions are easy to make and easy to break. This year can be different. If you want to make indoor cycling a habit and get fitter than ever before, think about what you’ll do differently this year.

Here’s how to give your resolutions a makeover and boost your chances of succeeding this year:

In the past: You set vague goals.

This time: You’ll set specific, reasonable, measurable targets. The way you set your goals can have a profound impact on whether you achieve them—or not.  So think about what you’re trying to do (“get fitter” or “lose weight”), exactly how you’ll do it and how often you’ll do it (say, by taking indoor cycling classes four times a week, plus doing strength-training two to three times per week). Here’s why the shift is important: The behavior you want to adopt (performing indoor cycling and strength training regularly even on the same day) is what’s under your control, rather than how soon you’ll achieve a particular outcome. But if you stick with your planned behavior consistently, you’ll be in a continuous state of success that can inspire you to keep going.

In the past: You didn’t hold yourself accountable for your actions (or inactions).

This time: You’ll set up systems to monitor what and how you’re doing. Keeping an exercise log—whether it’s on paper, an app or your computer—and scheduling your workouts as if they were important business or medical appointments helps you stay on track, monitor what you’re doing, and what the effects of your actions are.

Study after study has found that self-monitoring is one of the strongest predictors of success in changing your behavior, largely because it keeps you accountable and serves as positive reinforcement as you change your habits. For example, a 2014 study from Drexel University in Philadelphia found that when women used a physical activity sensor for self-monitoring, as part of a lifestyle modification program, their aerobic exercise increased from an average of 63 minutes per week to 135 minutes per week after six months.

In the past: You pursued your goal on your own.

This time: You’ll form your own support group. Go public with your goals. Tell supportive friends, family members, and colleagues about what you're trying to do and let them know how they can help you with your mission. Enlist a workout buddy or two, and make new friends in your indoor cycling classes; after all, the social experience of pedaling together can be powerful reinforcement. Identify people who stick with their workouts religiously so you can turn to them for advice when you need new strategies.

In the past: You forged ahead without anticipating challenges.

This time: You’ll plan ahead and develop contingency strategies. Before you encounter them, it’s smart to anticipate challenging situations that could derail your best intentions and think about how you’re going to navigate them. For starters, expect crowded indoor cycling classes in January and February; get to the studio early so you can claim a bike or reserve one ahead of time. If you usually take a class with a friend and he or she can’t do it, devise a back-up scheme ahead of time: Go for a solo ride or take the class on your own or do something different (like swimming, a great complementary activity). Developing specific plans for how you’ll handle common challenges can help prevent your goal from being threatened when things don’t go the way you’d hoped.   

In the past: You let workout lapses turn into a collapse.

This time: You’ll get right back on the plan after a slip.

            If you slip off the indoor cycling bandwagon, that doesn’t mean you have to stay off it. Research from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania has found that most people who succeed at New Year’s resolutions have at least one slip. What’s most important is that if you slip or encounter a setback, you renew your commitment to your goal and get back on track by focusing on what you’ll do today and tomorrow instead of what’s already happened. Being able to adopt a new pattern of behavior doesn’t happen overnight so make a commitment to stick with your plan for at least three months to six months.

Continue Reading