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How professional trainers set — and keep — resolutions

New year, new you? Not quite. Here’s how real-life trainers at Aaptiv set resolutions you can actually keep. (Personal transformation not required.)

If you made your new year’s resolutions during a burst of good intentions and/or end of year panic, you may now be struggling to keep them, even if January isn’t even over yet. That’s unfortunate, but not uncommon, so we decided we should help out (our mission is to make life less hard, after all). And because many resolutions — especially the hard-to-keep ones — are fitness-based, we went to some exercise professionals to find out how they keep theirs.

Specifically we reached out to two trainers at Aaptiv, Haven Life’s favorite exercise app (a no-cost subscription is included with Haven Life Plus, a rider for eligible Haven Term policyholders). We talked with Katie Horwich, who, as a trainer, is very interested in the psychological aspects of wellness and getting fit. And Raj Hathriamani, who takes a well-rounded view on how to reach your running goals.

We asked how they manage to keep their new year’s resolutions. The answers may not make you quite as fit as those two, but they’ll put you on the right track.

In this article:

Katie Horwitch

“I personally tend to avoid setting big, pie-in-the-sky resolutions every year in January. I find the ‘New Year, New You!’ mentality to be anxiety-inducing and unrealistic for both myself and my clients. Jumping quickly into goal-chasing, no matter what time of year, without a clear and convincing reason why is often a recipe for burnout.

“Instead, I like to create broader, more general goals based on feeling. I’ll look back at the previous year and try to sum it up in a few adjectives. Based on those, I’ll do the same looking forward into the new year, and decide how I want to feel, no matter what transpires. For example, instead of saying ‘My goal is to exercise 3-4 times a week,’ I’ll say, ‘My goal is to feel energized and vibrant throughout each week.’ That way, I have the actual goal — to feel energized and vibrant — front and center in my mind, instead of focusing so intensely on how I get there.

“I find these types of feeling/adjective-related goals are way more sustainable in the long run, not only because it’s often time-easier to stay invested in them, but also because they allow for a lot more wiggle room. If you say your goal is to exercise 3-4 days a week and you only have time to exercise once, you might be tempted to get down on yourself. But if your goal is to feel energized, that one sweat session might be enough — or you might find other ways to reach that exact same goal, like calling a friend or drinking a cup of tea. Why would you set strict rules when you can set yourself up for success instead?”

Although Horwitch’s approach to fitness resolutions is vibe-based, it works because it’s also rooted in specific actions. For example, she says, “If your resolution is ‘Be energized throughout the week instead of depleted,’ your habits could include ‘Drink one glass of water for every cup of coffee,’ or ‘Move my body at least five minutes a day.’ If your resolution is ‘Feel strong,’ your habits could be ‘Add 10 minutes of weight training at the end of each cardio workout’ or ‘Carry my groceries to the car instead of rolling them there in the shopping cart.’”

The key is to make sure each resolution is supported by specific actions, even though those actions may be subject to change.

“Why would you set strict rules when you can set yourself up for success instead?”

—“Why would you set strict rules when you can set yourself up for success instead?”

Raj Hathiramani

“I approach new year’s resolutions as an opportunity to set goals, but with the awareness that I might need to adjust them or will not achieve all of them. While the start of the year is a popular time for resolutions, for runners, setting goals after we sign up for a race or finish one may be more appropriate. It’s important to make your goals intrinsically important to you, and at a time that is best for you.”

Part of making sure your goals are right for you involves realizing that “running goals don’t have to be just PRs [personal records],” he says. “You can set goals about total mileage, runs per week, run a bucket list race (i.e., Cherry Blossom 10-miler), or a personal best in a specific distance, like a 5K or marathon.”

In fact, some important running goals involve no running at all. Hathiramani says runners “should build strength. A regular strength-training routine can help you correct muscle imbalances and avoid injury,” he adds, recommending that runners “strength train between 15 – 45 minutes twice a week.” Also, “most athletes set goals around training but not recovery,” he says. “You should recover as hard as you train.” To improve recovery, “stretch and/or foam roll after every run,” and “treat yourself to a massage a few times a year.”

Finally, Hathiramani suggests a resolution that many of us — whatever our fitness ambitions — should consider. “Increase your sleep quality,” he says. “Try no device usage in the bedroom and no alcohol or caffeine within 2 hours of bedtime.” If that sounds to you like it would be harder than running a 5K or marathon, maybe that’s a sign that you should give it a try.

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About Michael Davis

Read more by Michael Davis

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

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