Setting New Year’s Goals

Grace White and Jeff Howard.

By Jeff Howard

Photos by Erin Trimble

With the newness of 2019 approaching, we can set goals for the next 365 days and make this year anything we want it to be. Every year, I have clients who approach me with their fitness resolutions, but they have no game plan on how to achieve them.

Many of us commit to how we will change our bodies and become better versions of ourselves. Most of the time, however, we start to lose steam midway through our fitness journey. Eventually, we simply give up because either we made a commitment we can’t keep or we don’t see the results fast enough. This year, instead of making a resolution, make goals: drink more water, be more consistent or make more time for yourself. A goal is very personal and it’s something you work toward every day.

I truly want this year to be the year that you feel successful, so I reached out to some my fitness colleagues and I asked them about their favorite tips to help guide us in the new year.



Sara Kooperman, the CEO of SCW Fitness Education and a fitness industry icon who leads nine of the biggest U.S. professional conferences, shared this advice:

1. Find a friend who will help you stay accountable. Chat each day about what you are eating and what you avoided. Stay connected and reward yourself.

2. Find a workout partner who will keep you on your fitness journey. If they are an out-of-town friend, talk to them on your cell while you go for a walk. Stay attached to someone who is a positive force.

3. Hire a trainer who will keep you on your toes and challenge you. What is your health and wellness really worth?


I also spoke with therapist and life coach Laura Wagner and this is what she shared:

1. Keep it simple and significant. Don’t make yourself go from “zero to hero” by deciding to go to an hour long HIIT class five days a week if you normally only go to the gym once a month. Find something you like and make it doable – like 30 to 45 minutes of activity three days a week. Add on from there.

2. Studies show people are 42 percent more likely to do something if they write it down. Write out your goals for the year. Make a vision board. Keep a written calendar, even if you keep one in your phone. The transfer of what’s in your mind to paper can solidify your intentions and turn them into actions.


My friend, fitness enthusiast and social influencer Grace White, sums it up perfectly with her top tips to reach your New Year fitness goals:

• Plan. Staying healthy is already hard enough. Make it easier on yourself by planning your meals and your workouts. This will help you stay on track.

Consistency. You aren’t going to see results right away. This takes time, patience and consistency. If you aren’t feeling up to going to the gym one day, try being active in other ways, i.e. going for a scenic run, walking the dogs, etc.

• Be realistic. You aren’t going to get rock hard abs in a few weeks. Small daily changes compound over time to create results. Unrealistic goals are just setting yourself up for failure. Try journaling a few small goals for every week.

• Eat clean. Try to stay away from processed foods. You can meal prep pretty much everything – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Choose lean meats, complex carbs and fibrous veggies. You can’t out-train a bad diet.

• Stay off the scale. Cut ties with the scale. Weighing yourself every so often can be a healthy way to track your goals, but at the end of the day, what matters is how your feel. Also, remember that muscle weighs more than fat. Progress pictures are a much better indicator.

• Eight hours of sleep. Your muscles need rest to recover, and your body needs energy to perform.

• Lifestyle. Think of this as a lifestyle, not a diet. Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.

• Properly supplement your body. You can get most things through a healthy diet, but if you are increasing the intensity of your training, you may want to consider supplementation.

• Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Stepping out of your comfort zone is a must if you want to see results. Don’t be afraid to break down a mental wall and venture into uncharted territory. Remember, be safe and track your heart rate.

After reaching out to my fitness friends, I found a common thread. First, make small, attainable goals. Second, find exercises you enjoy doing and third, make sure you’re held accountable.

I spent the afternoon with Grace and she took me through one of her favorite workouts that is easy to do at home. The goal is to get through one round the first week, then add another round the next week and continue adding rounds.

What you will need is a mat or soft surface, hand weights and a timer.


Warm-up for 5 to 10 minutes, either by walking with hand weights or climbing stairs.

1. Weighted burpees: 15 reps

Repeat four times

Start with your feet hips-width apart. Lower your body to the floor, trying not to round your spine. Jump back into a plank. Optional: drop your body into a push-up. Jump forward with your feet between your arms. Then, lift your body up with hands over your head.

This can also be done without weights.

2. Squat into upright row: 10 reps

Start with your feet hips-width apart and feet facing forward. Lift your elbows to either side of the room. Go into a squat while lowering your hands toward the floor, looking forward and trying not to round your back. Then, stand back up, lifting the elbows out to the side. A modification would be to place a chair behind you. Sit in the chair and then get back up while doing the same arms.

3. Weighted side plank rotation: 10 reps each side

Start by laying on the floor, then lift your legs into a plank position. Lift one arm up toward the sky. Lower the arm back to the floor and repeat on the same side. Repeat on the other side after your 10 reps. The modification would be to leave your knees on the floor or to not use any weights at all.

4. Banded hip thrusts: 15 reps

Start by lying looking up toward the sky. Your knees are bent. Lift your toes off of the floor. To make it harder, Grace has chosen to use a rubber band around her thighs. Then, lift your glutes upward and lower your back to the floor. For a challenge, take your hands off the floor, reaching up toward the sky. To make simpler, do not use the band.

5. Banded kickbacks: 15 reps each

Start by being prone on all fours. Then, lift one leg up toward the sky. Lower the lifted leg back toward the floor to complete one set and repeat on the other side. Make sure to keep your back straight when lifting and push your heel toward the sky.

6. Squatting bicep curl into shoulder press: 10 reps

Start with feet hips-width apart. Bending your knees into a squat, lower your arms to the floor. Bend the elbows into a bicep curl. Lift the body back to standing position. Continue by lifting your hands over your head. To make simpler, lower yourself into a chair or stay seated.

7. Chest fly v ups: 10 reps

Start by lying on the floor with arms out by your side. Lift your hands upward until they touch. Lift your legs toward the sky while lifting the arms. A simpler version would be to leave one foot on the floor or to not raise the legs.

8. Bent over DumbBell rows with tricep kickback: 15 reps

Stand with feet hips-width apart. Lower your chest to the floor, keeping your back flat and try not to round your spine. Raise your elbows by your side. Lift the weights to the back of the room, bringing them back to your sides and repeat. For lower back issues, place one foot behind you in a kickstand stance.

9. Alternating weighted toe touches: 12 reps each

Start by lying on your back with one hand over your head. Then, lift one hand and the opposite leg simultaneously, reaching for the sky. Repeat the sequence on the same side for one set. Another version would be to keep one leg bent to take stress off your lower back or perform without hand weights.

*Before you start any kind of exercise routine, please check with your doctor.

You can find more workouts and information from Grace White at asoutherndrawl.com or @a_southerndrawl and on her fitness site FITwithASD.com or @fitwithasd.