New Year's Intentions: Setting Yourself Up for Success

by Sarah Frazier, ACSM-CPT

I love the New Year “season.” Something about a fresh start and a good excuse for some change really gets me excited! Most years, I try to take some time to come up with a handful of well-thought-out New Year’s intentions that I would like to focus on for the year, ranging from mental health, to career, to fitness oriented. But before you grab a pen and paper and start scribbling down your New Year’s resolutions, consider a few things!
Lofty fitness goals are some of the most common resolutions made this time of year, and yet they are the most challenging to stick to. The majority of folks that create fitness-related goals for the New Year have ditched them by time Valentine’s Day rolls around. But quite honestly, this season sets us up for failure when it comes to being successful with health and fitness-related New Year’s resolutions. The holiday eating and loss of routine puts us into a guilt cycle that elicits the creation of overzealous resolutions, only to be found too challenging to stick to for a variety of different reasons, and eventually abandoned all together. Setting New Year’s intentions can certainly be a beneficial way to start the year off with some focus, but you need to set them…intentionally. Here are some ways to approach your New Year’s intentions in a way that will help you achieve your goals!
  1. Don’t be afraid to start at anytime. Just because you may have been a little late for the start of the year, doesn’t mean you can’t choose to start being intentional about something. There is never a better time than now to make a change. Start small today with something that you can continue every day!
  2. Choose something that you actually enjoy. The best type of exercise is the type that you are actually going to do, and the type that you are actually going to do is generally the type that you like. So choose a form of exercise that excites you and makes you want to go to the gym! You have so many choices at acac, don’t be afraid to explore them all.
  3. Set small, achievable goals. Go with the SMART model (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-oriented) and consider setting an over-arching intention with a few SMART goals that fit into it.
  4. Always have a back up plan. Give yourself a few different options or some room for flexibility. That way, even if your year takes you in a direction that you did not foresee (I’m looking at you 2020), you can still feel like you have made progress towards your resolution. For example, if you want to increase your endurance consider working towards completing a 5K OR increasing your steps per day by “X” amount by the end of the year.
  5. Release yourself from guilt and shame. Again, this time of year can really throw us for a loop and encourages setting resolutions for less than motivating reasons. Setting an intention because we feel guilty about how we conducted ourselves during the holidays does not set the tone for a successful year. Focus instead on intrinsic motivation and creating healthy habits for long-term (read: longer than just the year!) health and longevity. 

Recipe of the Week: Honey Lemon Chicken and Green Beans

1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. white vinegar
12 oz. green beans
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt and pepper
  1. Combine the chicken, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a Ziploc bag and toss until the chicken is well coated. Let marinate for anywhere between 30 min. and 8 hours. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together chicken broth, honey, cornstarch, ground ginger, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 4 minutes until bright green, but still crisp. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  4. Add another tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and pour in the chicken. Season with a pinch of salt. Sautee for 5-7 minutes until cooked all the way through and no longer pink in the middle. Transfer to the plate with the green beans and set aside.
  5. Add the sauce to the skillet and heat until it reaches a low boil and thickens slightly. Add back the chicken and green beans to the pan and toss to coat evenly in the sauce. Cook until everything is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.