Suzanne Roig
The Bulletin

Tips for success:

• Journal your reasons.

• Find a workout buddy.

• Set small goals that you can accomplish.

• Stick to a pattern.

• Work out at the same time.

• Go to the same place.

• Find ways to make yourself accountable.

• Reward yourself.

• Download apps like Lifesum, Momentum or Habitca that will help provide inspiration.

Just days into the new year, legs pumped furiously and arms swung back and forth as men and women walked or ran on treadmills and ellipticals at Juniper Swim & Fitness Center in Bend.

Each moved at his or her own pace, and all were laser-focused on their goals.

It’s resolution time in the fitness world, a time when people vow to be healthier, fitter, stronger or lose weight.

Every January, Bend area gyms see an uptick as people resolve to make lifestyle changes. Google searches surge at the start of the year from queries looking for information on fitness centers and correspondingly, attendance rises.

By February, about 80 percent of those resolute fall by the wayside, stymied by lofty goals, lack of time or vague plans for accomplishing a New Year’s Day vow. By midyear half of that 80 percent are still following their resolutions, according to a study by the University of Scranton.

“Research shows that if you make too big a goal for a behavior change, then it becomes so big that you might last a day or a few weeks,” said Lori Brizee, a Bend nutritionist and an instructor at Oregon State University-Cascades. “It’s best to make small, achievable goals to build upon.”

Since habits tend to take eight to 12 weeks to form, pitfalls, missed workouts and lack of progress can often derail the best-laid plans, said Lisa Flexner, a kinesiology instructor at OSU-Cascades.

Bend is apparently the exception.

People tend to maintain their fitness, said Monica McClain-Smith, Bend Park & Recreation District fitness coordinator. While more people do sign up for membership and take advantage of the 250 classes offered at the district’s facilities, McClain-Smith and the trainers work with new members to help them establish a fitness routine they can maintain.

“People understand the value of functional fitness and training, rather than setting goals that are unrealistic,” McClain-Smith said. “Setting goals like losing weight or keeping myself in shape to do something specific is unrealistic. We provide the opportunity for people who have the variety and have more fun and less risk of injury.”

At the fitness centers, trainers talk about maintaining a fitness triangle of cardiovascular fitness, strength training and flexibility as the core beliefs they try to pass on to their members, McClain-Smith said.

Flexibility is a key component to maintaining that resolution and creating new habits.

About 40 percent of Americans say they want to be healthier in the new year, according to 2013 Marist poll, a New York Marist College Institute for Public Opinion survey. A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour Marist poll in 2018 showed that among Americans polled who plan on making a resolution, 13 percent said they wanted to exercise more, 12 percent wanted to quit smoking and 1 in 10 said they wanted to lose weight. Rounding out the NPR/Marist poll, 9 percent said they wanted to eat healthier.

Resolutions can be hard to accomplish because too often the goals focus on the what the achievement is and not why, Flexner said.

Those who succeed dig deep for the reason why they want to achieve a goal, Flexner said.

“A lot of time people say they want to be fit and that’s what the goal is,” she said. “But when they are asked why again, they say it’s because they want to be healthier. That’s not enough of a reason. You have to dig deeper to the third reason.”

Whether it’s diet or exercise, focus on the process, not the outcome, experts say. If the goal is health, then focus on how to be healthy, either by eating more vegetables and fruit or by adding exercise. Don’t focus on the scale or the dress size.

Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, start with eating something, anything, for breakfast. Then a week later, add to that and eat something with protein. The week after that, add a fruit or a veggie. Soon, breakfast will be part of the daily routine, Brizee said.

“The idea is that your goals need to be ridiculously small and then they’re easily achievable,” she said.

Want to incorporate exercise into the routine, start by just touching the treadmill gathering dust in the corner of the bedroom. Then, get on it for 30 seconds, and soon the routine will be up to 30 minutes.

“By making the process more important than the goal it helps us to accept that we will fall off the wagon,” Flexner said.

“We need short-term goals to help keep us looking forward, rather than backwards.”

Too often resolutions are all about these kinds of short-term goals and when life interferes, or an injury occurs, then that produces a negative feeling and interferes with success, she said.

“Find little wins to help you get over the eight- to 12-week mark,” Flexner said. “Practice positive self talk, and that can change the language of how we think and talk.”