Setting New Years Resolutions During a Pandemic

2020 was not what any of us expected and as we approach the end of the year, most are eager to hit the reset button. A year ago, many of us set some New Year’s Resolutions and many of those goals probably didn’t materialize

due to Covid-19. Cancelled races, inability to travel, gyms closed…the lockdown derailed many plans and the one thing 2020 taught us was to be flexible, resilient and deal with disappointment. 

Since this year has been different than any other in our lifetimes, the same approach to New Year’s Resolutions is probably not going to work. We are still in the midst of this pandemic so the uncertainty of the future makes it difficult to make any plans.

So what would be a healthy approach to setting New Year’s Resolutions for 2021?

First, let’s start with analyzing some big picture perspective and lessons we may have learned from 2020:

What were the hardest things you dealt with in 2020? What did you miss the most?

What were the silver linings and positives of 2020?

What changes did you institute in 2020 that you want to maintain moving forward?

What do you want to reclaim from pre-Covid?

How do you want to come back stronger, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

Another thing this pandemic taught us was the importance of our overall health. An increased focus on health and fitness every January is common and that will most likely be amplified this year. Studies after studies have shown that those with health issues are particularly at risk with COVID-19, emphasizing the importance of staying fit and eating healthy to maintain strong immune systems.

Hopefully this is a wake-up call to America and people will take action to prioritize their health.

Here’s an approach to setting your goals this year that should provide some fulfillment:

Create fail-proof highlights

There was a lot we couldn’t do this year. The key to managing 2020 was focusing on what you CAN do not on what you can’t do. So how do you set goals for 2021 when we’re not really sure what we can and can’t do yet. Start by focusing on the short-term. Ask yourself what were the highlights of 2020 and then set the intention to do more of those things, since at the very least, you know what you were capable of in 2020. Then reassess your goals each quarter and as things open up and the future becomes more clear, you can establish new goals.

Force accountability

Many struggled in 2020…people were experiencing depression, anxiety and stress at very high levels. For some, curling up in a ball and binging on Netflix was their only coping mechanism, and justifiably so. But, as we approach this New Year, if you want more out of 2021 and you know you’ve struggled with commitment, be sure to force some accountability to your goals. That may include hiring a personal trainer, even if virtually, to assure you stick to your workouts or scheduling workout sessions with friends online or facetime. It may involve consulting with a nutritionist, joining Weight Watchers or signing up with a Meal-Prep company to help you stick with your nutrition goals. It may involve making a public statement on social media announcing your intentions so your friends and family can support you through the process.

Sign up for a race – yes, even if it transitions to virtual

Many races were canceled in 2020, which may make many people hesitate to register for any upcoming races in 2021. But, signing up will solidify your commitment and add purpose to your workouts to assure you are physically ready for the challenge. There’s nothing like registering and paying to add focus and determination to your workouts. So, get out your calendar and set your racing schedule – even if some events (early in the year) transition to virtual, you’ll still have something to focus on and it will keep you committed to training.

Focus on your nutrition

Regardless of the shutdowns, you can easily set goals to eat better. After indulging over the holidays, it’s easy to resolve to never drink alcohol again or never eat junk again. But listen, 97% of personal trainers indulge in treats so how do you expect to forever forbid them from your diet?

Instead of focusing on all the foods you can’t eat, instead set goals every day for the foods you need to consume to promote health such as, “Today, I have to eat 8 different vegetables or fruits” or “Today, I’ll drink a full glass of water before each meal”. If you’d like to cut down on your alcohol consumption, decide you’ll only drink a glass of wine on Fridays or Saturdays. If you’d like to commit to healthy nutrition, decide you’ll eat clean 5-6 days per week and allow yourself 1-2 free days each week to enjoy some of your favorite foods.

Move your body everyday

Moving creates energy. You feel better. It strengthens your immune system. It improves your mental health. Just do it. If you’re not doing any type of exercise right now, start with 10 minutes of walking and see where it takes you. Remove the question “Should I move my body today?” because the answer to that question should always be yes!

Plan for Setbacks

Your 2021 goals may suffer obstacles as they have in 2020. Don’t let any roadblocks set you back. Set your mind to expect obstacles and commit in advance to figuring out how to go over, around, under or through. If there’s a will, there’s always a way.

Learn from your 2020 experiences to create a better and stronger 2021!

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

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Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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