It's that time of year again. "A New Year, A New You" talk is on every news feed, detox programs are flooding daytime television, and millions of people are flocking to the gym.

Although New Year's goal-setting is a positive and healthy way to improve your health and fitness, research shows only about 9 percent of New Year's resolutions actually stick.[1] In fact, many New Year's resolutions don't even last past the month of February!

If 91 percent of all New Year's resolutions suffer the same fate, there must be some common obstacles people fail to surmount. Here are the top three reasons why your New Year's resolutions might be doing more harm than good.

Reason 1: You're Setting the Bar Too High

We're all guilty of this one. You think of a goal you want to reach and jot it down in your journal. Then you think of another great goal and jot that one down, too. Before you know it, your resolution list is a mile long and your expectations are as high as Mount Everest.

Youre Setting the Bar Too High

Let's say you want to lose weight and you set a goal of losing 20 pounds so you can impress your spouse on Valentine's Day. That's a great goal, but expecting the weight to come off so fast sets you up for disappointment. And we all know what it feels like when results don't come as quickly as we'd like them to.

You can safely lose 1-2 pounds of body fat per week, so plan your goals accordingly. Better to succeed at a small goal that to fail at an unrealistically big one.

Reason 2: You're Falling Victim to the "All or Nothing" Mentality

Ah, the weekend warrior in us all. You have time on the weekend to get exercise you can't seem to fit in during the week. Filled with enthusiasm, you make big plans about how you're going to do things differently this year. Then, Monday morning rolls around and you hit the snooze button and tell yourself you'll hit the gym after work—which never happens. Or, after a long day at work, you top off your chicken and broccoli with half a pint of ice cream before bed. Does that mean you've failed?

When you set a goal or New Year's resolution, it's easy to get caught in the "all or nothing" trap. You have a plan for how you're going to transform your life, then fall off the wagon, becoming one of the aforementioned resolution statistics.

Youre Falling Victim to the All or Nothing Mentality

As cliché as it sounds, baby steps are the key to success. Studies show that "all or nothing" goals and resolutions can wreak havoc not only on the final outcome, but the process along the way. Rather than trying to hit the gym every single day, start with every other day. If you cheat a little bit on your diet, drink a big glass of water and have a light, healthy meal the next time you eat.

To borrow another cliché, self-improvement is a marathon, not a sprint. If you keep striving to meet your goals, you will lose weight—just not overnight. If you hit the gym regularly, you will gain strength—just maybe not as quickly as you'd like. Be in it for the long haul. Be patient.

Reason 3: You're Under Too Much Pressure

As if the pressure we put on ourselves weren't enough, the media does a fantastic job of making us feel like we should be exercising more, eating better, and getting thinner. We're constantly bombarded with stories of new moms who got their bodies back overnight or guys with abs or pecs so steely they could set off airport metal detectors.

Youre Under Too Much Pressure

The pressure of achieving that instant and effortless transformation is constant—and unrealistic. The before-and-after photos you see on social media don't show all the hours spent preparing food, hitting the gym, and sobbing over setbacks. The journey is overlooked so often on social media that you can feel like you're the only one who struggles.

Don't let the pressure of a dramatic before-and-after get you down. The in-between stages of building healthy habits and enjoying a new fitness routine are the most important part of those New Year's resolutions. Let all those other "after" photos and highlight reels inspire you, but don't forget the hard work and dedication it takes to get there. Real-life transformations take time and consistency. So for 2020, resolve to do away with resolutions once and for all.

  1. New Year's Resolution Statistics:

About the Author

Sara-Jane McShane

SJ McShane

Sara-Jane "SJ" McShane is a writer, voice-over artist, photographer, personal trainer, and nutritionist.

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