It’s the last day of school vacation for most kids in North Texas. Teachers are back today and busy Moms can’t wait until they put the kids back on the bus tomorrow after more than 2 weeks of Christmas vacation.

This is the time that many of us are thinking about New Year’s resolutions and are trying to motivate ourselves to change a bad habit or start a new one. It turns out that 67% of resolutions are not to stop doing something, but to start a new good habit. Exercise tops the list. Unfortunately almost 95% of people will not reach their goals in 2013. Why?
  1. Lack of motivation to change
  2. Unrealistic goals 
  3. Focusing on goals and not behaviors
  4. Change is uncomfortable
  5. Excuses, excuses, excuses 
  6. Lack of accountability coach
  7. Procrastination
Let’s take these 7 reasons for failure and work on 7 tips for positive change. Let’s make 2013 the year that you reach your goals and find a whole new you! Whether your goal is to lose 10 pounds, run your first 5K, finish your first marathon or break 12 hours in an Ironman triathlon; these tips still hold true.
  1. What is your motivation for change? Examine it.Are you just feeling full and bloated at this moment? Do you have a hangover from last night? Was your last race truly unfulfilling and your time disappointing? Or is there a more enduring reason for your desire to change? If you can't think of a better reason than the fact that you're uncomfortable at this moment, then you're better off not making promises to yourself that you probably won't keep. However, if you are realistic and accept the responsibility of discipline required for change, your motivation will be sustained long after the discomfort from over-indulgence has passed. Let’s face it, most of us feel fat and out of shape when the holidays end and the New Year dawns. Mom’s apple pie gives quite the hangover for weeks!
  2. Make realistic goals.Habits and behaviors that are changed gradually have a greater chance of success. Don’t decide that you are going to lose 100 pounds or run a marathon when you haven’t even gotten off the couch in a year! Make a resolution to run 5 out of 7 days a week. Lose 10 pounds in 30 days. Do a speed play session at least once a week. You get the idea….. Bottom line: write your goals down! A goal not written down is a mere wish!
  3. Focus on the behavior more than on the goal.For example, if you decide to control your diet, your goal for the day is not to lose a specific number of pounds, but to stick to your program. Make sure you have a written program to follow! Such focus on your behavior will help you feel in control of your life. You will gain satisfaction from making sensible choices several times throughout the day. Then the pounds will fall off as you accomplish a change in your behavior.
  4. Learn to redefine physical sensations of discomfort.Whenever we restrict ourselves or change a behavior, we have both physical and mental reactions. For example, a new runner feels aching and soreness when he start to increase his workouts. However, he has a choice as to how he interprets these symptoms. He can define them as extremely unpleasant, or alternatively he can interpret them as his body growing stronger. Someone who is restricting food intake will also feel physical discomfort. However, the successful dieter tells himself that his growling stomach is a sign that his body must go to the fat reserves for energy. Bottom line: change is painful but worth it!
  5. Make tasks non-negotiable. - Forget excuses. I can come up with some really good ones to stay in bed! People who are most successful at implementing such changes are those who make their tasks non-negotiable. For example, if you debate with yourself at 5:30 a.m. whether you feel like getting up to run, you will probably opt for staying in bed for another half hour. But if getting up for exercise is no more negotiable than getting up for work, then you'll do it regardless of how you feel about it. The same goes for organizing your closet or taking charge of your finances. One can almost always find an excuse not to do these things. However, if you make a non-negotiable decision that's based on a sound logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will be successful. 
  6. Be accountable to someone else and allow for imperfection.It is important to profess your goals to the world and ask for help. Your family and friends can be motivators but often they are the greatest naysayers. A couch or personal trainer can be helpful to get you on track. No one is exactly on target all the time. In fact you should expect to falter every now and then. If you give in to temptation, do not use this as an excuse to abandon the whole program. Learn from your mistake and move on.
  7. Do it now. - If you're waiting for a more convenient time to begin, it won't happen. It's almost never convenient to change ingrained habits or build new ones. Now is just as convenient as any time. And if you begin now rather than later, you'll have a jump on a more satisfying future. Make a plan and start today!
Kids are back in school tomorrow. Time for me to get back to work and put a race on the calendar! Make this your most successful year yet! Run Happy!!