As we all know, the beginning of the New Year signals not only a clean slate but a chance for all of us to create better habits and improve our lives. This is easier said than done, though, right? New Year's resolutions require discipline, dedication, and hard work. Honestly, I don't even like the term "resolutions" because it's usually associated with something we do short term. But our health should be a long-term goal! I want to share five of my personal fitness hacks with you, so that you can successfully stay on track throughout 2018 and beyond:

Set GOALS and write them down

1. Set GOALS and write them down

Knowing exactly what you want to achieve and having a way to measure it is the first step to success! Whether it is hitting 10,000 steps a day or losing X amount of weight by summer, it's important to be able to measure your progress. This can also help to keep you motivated as you slowly start to see improvements along the way!

Have support

2. Have support

Now that you have identified your goals, it's time to share them with close friends, family, and co-workers so that they can help you achieve them. This will not only help to create accountability, but it will also create a great support system -- cheerleaders who'll motivate you through the process. And if they are involved, they will be less inclined to tempt you with sweets, drinks, and other yummy stuff that you shouldn't overindulge in.

Prepare

3. Prepare

Life is chaotic, and trust me, it will never stop being that way. Preparation can mean the difference between sticking to your New Year's fitness routine and telling yourself you'll try again next year. Prep includes loading your fridge with healthy meals as well as healthier snacks, so when you don't have time to cook, you can still make healthier choices. You should also clean out your cupboards of unhealthy foods, in case you get the urge for a late night snack. What's more, I'd recommend keeping free weights and/or bands in your home and for on-the-go. This way, if you don't have time for the gym, or it's raining outside, you can do backup exercises.

Progress over perfection

4. Progress over perfection

The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to form healthier habits and maintain a consistent fitness routine is to realize that it's not about being perfect -- it's about progress. You're not going to reach your goals overnight. And remember looking AND feeling good is a long-term goal. There's nothing getting in the way of our goals except ourselves.

And last but not least...ENJOY!

5. And last but not least...ENJOY!

I know this may seem hard, but you should always find ways to enjoy what you're doing. If you hate running, then don't run. There are literally so many ways you can get that heart rate up. For instance, if you love to dance, then dance for 30 minutes four-to-five days a week. Get a jump rope or hula hoop, and act like a kid again. Think outside the box and have fun.

If you get bored, try listening to more music that you love, or listen to an audiobook or podcast to keep you stimulated. Finding a way to turn your exercise, regardless of difficulty level, into enjoyable ME time is crucial to sticking with a fitness routine. And thinking of exercise as ME time is exactly the mindset you'll need to achieve your fitness goals!

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So there you have it -- five of my personal fitness hacks to help keep you motivated throughout 2018. If you have any questions about nutrition or fitness, please be sure to visit me by clicking the links below.

Annie Parker aka Sassy Fit Chick is an IFBB Bikini Pro/Nutritionist. Follow her on Instagram (@sassyfitchick) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnnieParkerSassyFitChick)!

exercise | fitness | fitness hacks | health | weight loss