It's the time of year when people are making resolutions intended to change their lives for the better, so it’s a shame that the most common are simply to get fitter, eat more healthily, and lose weight. These are all admirable intentions, but when you consider how vague they are it’s not surprising that most people struggle to stick to them—or work out when they have achieved them.
These resolutions are flawed from the off. You need a fixed goal, something achievable within a set timeframe and, most importantly, you need to pick something that you’re going to enjoy achieving.
One great way to work out if you’ve made a good resolution is to consider whether you’re going to want to talk about completing it at your New Year’s Eve party in 2024. If your weight has dropped by 10lb that’s a real achievement, but you probably won’t bother to bring it up. If you’ve dropped those pounds because you completed your first marathon, climbed Kilimanjaro, learned ballroom dancing or have become an excellent cook, then people are going to want to hear about it.
1. Try Three New Activities
You may have tried, and failed, to get on a fitness kick many times in the past. If so, there’s little point in retreading the same path and doing the same exercise plan. Expand your horizons and attempt at least three new things, eventually you’ll discover an activity you enjoy doing, and then it’s a lot easier to carry on doing it. Not sure what to try? How about padel, or zumba?
2. Commit To Eating Five Portions Of Fruit And Veg A Day
This really isn’t as hard as people can make it seem and it’s verging on the incredible just how good this is for you, lowering the risk of all kinds of health problems and helping ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need in your diet.
The key is to include some kind of fruit and/or veg with every meal, and ideally add in a healthy snack to your daily routine. To ensure you’re sticking with it, use some kind of tracker like the Streaks app (or a pen and paper, sure) and tick off each day you hit your goal.
Many of us change our diet in the new year and committing to getting five-a-day is a far healthier way to do so than embarking on an unsustainable fad diet that makes you miserable. For maximum points mix up the colors of the fruit and veg you eat each day to get a range of vitamins and minerals.
If you need help in planning out or cooking meals that are full of veg, try these vegetarian recipes or one of the best healthy meal prep services. To really commit, give Veganuary a whirl—eating a plant-based diet can help encourage you to think of ways to introduce more legumes and vegetables into your meals.
3. Track Your Alcohol Intake For A Month
If you think you may be drinking too much alcohol, one option is to sign up for Dry January and start 2024 with a sober month. However, many of us will tick that off then go back to drinking just as much as we did before. A better option could be to carry on as you are but track your drinking for a month, so you get a clear picture of how much alcohol you’re having.
It’s easy to forget how much you drink—whether that’s because it’s harder to keep track towards the end of a night out, or you’re not adding up the units from “just” a couple at home every night—having the full unit count laid out in front of you at the end of the month gives you the information you need to decide if a change is required. The Drinkaware app is an easy way to keep tabs on your boozing.
4. Join In Your Local Parkrun
Every Saturday at 9am people flock to green spaces all over the world to take part in their local parkrun. These are free 5K runs, run by volunteers, and they’re brilliant. All levels of fitness are welcome: you can run, jog, walk or do a combination of the three—it’s just about getting active to boost your physical and mental health, and set yourself up for a great weekend.
The friendly atmosphere at a parkrun will keep you coming back, and so will the progress you see in your fitness. We reckon everyone should visit their local parkrun at least once because there’s every chance you’ll love it so much you end up coming back for more.
5. Sign Up For An Event
Be it a marathon, a 100-mile cycle, or a 10km row, events are an excellent way to achieve your fitness goals in enjoyable fashion. Preparing for the event means you’ll naturally get fitter and the day itself will be a grand occasion that will only encourage you to do more.
Also, by signing up for an event later in the year, it will ensure you don’t just go all out in January and burn out your enthusiasm. You can build slowly towards a fixed date—one that you can’t ignore like a gym membership.
6. Take A Cookery Course
Learning to cook food from scratch puts you on the fast track to a healthy diet, as it makes it all the easier to avoid hidden fats and sugars, as well as building an understanding of what is actually good for you. You can do this via online courses, healthy eating apps, books or, if you’re hopeless in the kitchen, a full cookery course, where you also get the benefit of socializing.
7. Try A One-month Challenge
If you feel your best bet for an active year is to strike while the iron’s hot and go all-out in January, then a 30-day challenge might be just the ticket.
Whether it’s squats, burpees, press-ups or planking, Coach has guides to fitness challenges that will not only give you something to brag about, but also put you in a great position to carry on your fitness regime in slightly less extreme fashion come February.
8. Aim For A New PR
If you’re already fairly active, or at least have been at some point in your past, you probably have some kind of personal record you’re proud of: be it a 5K time, deadlift one-rep max, or 18-hole score. Get that target in your sights and spend 2024 working towards breaking it, and you’ll naturally get into better shape.
9. Buddy Up On Your Resolutions
This is less a resolution in itself and more a method to help you achieve them, but you can call it “get a fitness buddy” or similar if you like. Once you’ve worked out your own resolutions, the odds are high that you know someone who probably has similar goals for 2024, so share your resolution and hold each other accountable. If you’re both committed and accountable to each other, you can train together, or share meal ideas, or both sign up for a new class so you’re less worried about turning up and not knowing anyone.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.