Exercise FAIL? Heres the Secret to a Smarter New Years Resolution

Its New Years Eve and you’ve just resolved to turn over a new leaf, change your ways and make a new start. You’ll lose that stubborn 20 pounds. You’ll exercise and eat right and its all going to come together. A new you will emerge, transformed.

Obviously you can do this any day of the year and today is as good as any.

But what turns most NYE resolutions to dust is that they are only WISHES to change. They are castles in the air with no real foundation in PLANNING.

The motivation is there, certainly.

Last Year Your GOALS were just too DUMB

Wait, you calling me a dummy?!!

No, but your GOAL was set up in a DUMB way:

Deficiently Defined


Missing Time Constraints

Believing that there will be few distractions


TO truly change you need to do the following:

Identifying the outcome through clearly defined, measurable goals

SMARTER Goals are





Time Bound.

Eliminates Diversions and Distractions

Rationalization Proofed.

Let’s Break That Down

So your Getting In Shape Objective must be:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Achievabe – It is reasonable to think this is possible.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
  • Eliminates Diversions –Identify typical diversionary tactics and distraction ahead of time
  • Rationalization Proofed—Identify typical rationalizations and justifications ahead of time and create action plan to address them if and when they arise.

Often people who procrastinate will have a SMART plan but not a SMARTER plan. They’ll have clearly defined goals and resources to meet those goals. They just haven’t identified their diversions, distractions, rationalizations and justifications. And that’s what sinks their ship. They never make it to port.

Or, they don’t really have a clear plan at all. So they meander and think about what they want to do but they don’t map it out or execute simply because they haven’t identified a clear enough, measurable enough goal.

Or they haven’t mapped out an execution that moves them from stasis to action.


Statistics show that up to 60% of most people who join gyms or exercise programs either drop out or dwindle to very low rates of exercise within 3 to 6 months. Naturally the numbers look worse at the one year mark.


So lets map out how to ‘stick to it’ :

  1. Start with a SMARTER fitness goal. That is, measurable objectives. Find out through research how much of any particular exercise regimen is required to see significant results. 3x a week? 5x a week? 30 minutes or an hour each time?
  2. Evaluate the additional benefits—mental, emotional, physical—list all the benefits so that you can remember them when your resolve feels low.
  3. Identify times in the past when you felt like quitting. Look at particulars. What time of day were you exercising. Alone or in a Group? What time of year did you usually quit?
  4. Review the general benefits of exercise


  • Increased neuroplasticity—
  • Improved mood and decreased anxiety, depression, stress
  • Increase of endorphins with produce positive feelings and reduce sensations of pain
  • Healthy distraction from anxiety or fear.
  • Weight reduction through resistance training (weights) and aerobics
  • Builds strong muscles and stronger bones
  • Reduces injuries as you age
  • Reduces possible osteoporosis through building bone density
  • Boosts your Energy
  • Reduces feelings of fatigue
  • Combats chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Increases energy level in people with progressive illnesses.
  • Reduces potential for chronic disease
  • Improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Decreases blood pressure and blood fat levels.
  • Increases production of natural antioxidants which protect cells including SKIN cells.
  • Stimulates blood flow, can help delay the appearance of skin aging.
  • Increased blood flow and oxygen to your brain
  • Stimulates hormone production that enhances growth of brain cells.
  • Stimulates growth of hippocampus, a part of the brain that is vital to memory and learning, thus increasing mental function in older adults.
  • Reduces brain changes that can lead to Alzheimers disease.
  • Produces better sleep (up to 65% better in some studies) and relaxation.
  • Can relieve some chronic pain including low back pain, fibromyalgia.
  • Raises pain tolerance and reduced pain perception
  • Can boost sex drive.
  • Improve sexual performance through increased cardiovascular strength, improved blood circulation, toned muscles, enhanced flexibility.
  • Improved frequency of sexual behavior.
  • For some women, improved orgasm
  • Reduced erectile dysfunction


Lack of Exercise:

Increase in belly fat
Increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Increased risk for heart disease
Increase risk for early death
Increased risk for memory problems
Increased risk for sexual dysfunction
Increased risk for mood and anxiety problems
Increased risk for poor sleep quality
Increased risk for injury


Finally let’s get ‘shallow’ for a moment and talk about the fringe benefits:

Weight loss
More attractive physique
Clothes fit better
Easier to breathe
Increased confidence in public
Increased potential for friendship and romantic connections.

What stops us?

Weather conditions
Don’t like working out in front of others
Don’t like working out at home alone (too many distractions)
Don’t like driving and fighting traffic.

How to dig yourself further into a non-active hole.

Start by blaming yourself for your procrastination so far.
Then blame yourself for blaming yourself.
Rinse and repeat.

Lets step out of the Self Blame trap.

How to Break out of Procrastination Thinking.


By externals, I mean, focus on the actual physical steps it takes to start DOING IT.


  1. Prepare gym bag night before.
  2. Get gym shorts and teeshirt on.
  3. Gather gym bag (towel and toiletries)
  4. Put on shoes.
  5. Get car keys
  6. Walk to car.
  7. Drive to Gym.
  8. Go into Gym.
  9. Get to weights or aerobics.


Here’s a few games you can play.

  1. Notice one new thing around you during the workout—sounds, sights, sensations, smells.
  2. Predict how much weight you can do and see if your prediction is accurate.
  3. See if you can go a minute longer than you scheduled.
  4. See if you can go one level higher on weights or one additional repetition/lift/press.
  5. Challenge yourself to give one (non-sexual) compliment to someone at the gym.
  6. Ask for guidance from someone on how to perform an exercise.
  7. Play some upbeat music that boosts your motivation on your headphones.
  8. Google Exercise Gamification or Gamify Exercise Apps to locate the latest apps that turn exercise into a game!


Yes, its do-able…But why do it alone?
Certainly if you are open to allowing other people to support you and to help you to be accountable, by all means, gather your support system.
Don’t have one?
Look up local groups dedicated to cheering each other on in their exercise programs or a gym that focusses on personal training.

Tell your friends and family what you are trying to achieve. Ask if you can report to them regularly on your progress. Ask for their support.

Group support DOES help. Ask the folks in AA or WeightWatchers or Church members or Political support movements.

Having trouble locating a group?

Look for a local group or internet-based group that offers accountability and genuine care and support from like-minded peers.



As a leader of multiple PROCRASTINATIONSTOPPERS groups I’ve seen the power of community to help people achieve their life goals.

By meeting every week and reporting on progress, lack of progress, fears, mental roadblocks, emotional obstacles, these folks are able to stay on the path to their physical health goals and often find kinship in a group that challenges everyone to move in the direction of their dreams.

Group members can offer outside support, a shoulder to lean on, strength when you’re feeling weak.


You can achieve your goals in the New Year by working SMARTER.
And remember, 2 steps forward–1 step back.
This is about PROGRESS not PERFECTION.
You Got This!

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©2019 Ross Grossman, MA, LMFT


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