January is always the busiest time of the year for gyms—you might even call it the fitness version of Black Friday. After a season of merriment, over indulgence with a lot of eating and drinking, many gyms see their membership double each January. Regardless of all that enthusiasm, gym attendance is usually back to its normal by mid February. There is a scary stat that I came across when conducting research for this blog, that 80% of New Years’ resolutions crash and burn by the second week of February.

Perhaps that’s because, for many of us, New Year’s resolutions are a bit of a joke: People break them before the year is out. Why waste your hard-earned money on a gym membership if you know yourself that you won’t stick to it?

But you don’t need superpowers to commit to being healthier this year. 2018 can be your year. Whether your goal is to do 10 push-ups, run a marathon, or simply take the stairs more often—you can get there. Here are my Top tips to help you stick to your resolutions, they worked for me in 2017.

1. Set Realistic Goals

A resolution shouldn’t be a fantasy. If you’ve never lifted weights before, attempting to hit the weight bench seven days per week is probably setting yourself up for disappointment. For most people, overturning a lifetime of habits can’t happen overnight—even if that night is New Years Eve.

The key to sticking with your resolutions is to take baby steps and to set realistic goals. So, if your goal is to go from never running to finishing a half-marathon, start training gradually. Begin by walking a few miles twice a week, and steadily increase the workload to jogging, and then running over several months.

2. Break Up the Goal

Resolving to do a marathon is pretty intimidating. But starting out with walking or running 2k three times a week is more realistic. This looks a lot more manageable right? A goal that’s either far in the future or far out of your comfort zone can be tough to start, so break the resolution down into achievable steps. Better yet, give yourself several small resolutions throughout the year. For instance, instead of aiming to run a marathon, aim to take part in a local 5km for charity and I guarantee you will feel amazing about yourself for completing the 5km and you will have raised money for a good cause.

3. Reward Yourself

When you hit those hard-earned benchmarks—one perfect pull-up, completing your first 2km, a personal best on the bench press—Reward yourself. Being healthy doesn’t have to be a drag when you start. Choose a reward that won’t undo your hard work: a weekend getaway, a new outfit or a movie date. Regular treats divided by a goal can help you reach those milestones faster than you previously thought possible. My guilty pleasure is buying clothes!

4. Question why you are looking to get fitter?

A steady gym habit can result in six-pack abs, but superficial goals may lose their appeal after endless weeks of diet and exercise. Instead, try viewing fitness as a direct path to health and happiness. I know that when I first started, I was doing it to look and feel better about myself.

Regular exercise has multiple benefits including lowering cholesterol, boosting overall energy, and even increasing levels of the happy hormones. Bringing some deeper motivations to your workout can make all the difference in sticking to your goals. Before hitting the gym, ask yourself some questions: Why did you make this resolution? What do you want to achieve? Only you can answer these questions.

5. Ask for Help

Not knowing how to do a certain exercise is no excuse to write it off completely. If you’re curious about new techniques, or find some exercises too intimidating, book a session with a personal trainer to clear up confusion and learn to love new moves. Trainers and instructors are there to help, so don’t be self-conscious about asking for advice. I know I was very self-conscious when I first started but please remember that everyone who is in the gym is there for the same reason, to become a better version of themselves. Everyone was a beginner once.

6. Make it fun with Apps

Nearly everyone has a smartphone these days and there are lots of gadgets and apps that can help motivate would be gym-goers, but the most useful ones for me have been MyFitnessPal and Strava. These are great places to start tracking progress and setting new goals, and the apps are well known for their online communities.

7. Get some new Threads

If you’re serious about fitness, consider investing in a pair of walking shoes, a few tech-fabric shirts, some rock climbing gloves, a swimsuit, a cool yoga mat… whatever will get you excited about exercise. Something as simple as new workout clothes can improve confidence and help you get to the gym. After all, nobody wants to spend €50 on a shirt that never gets worn, right?

8. Enjoy your journey

Fitness has opened up many doors for me personally. I have given up my job in Recruitment and decided to become a Personal Trainer Full Time. It has enabled me to feel a lot better about myself and has given me an extra spring in my step when confronting new things. I believe that if I can get fit, anyone can.

If you are interested in starting your Journey in 2018 off on the right foot please feel free to contact @shanewalshfitness on Instagram or email me directly on shanewalshfitness@gmail.com