Determination, Dedication, and Discipline: The Three Ds to a Successful New Year’s Resolution

In my experience as a personal trainer, college athlete, and figure competitor, I have come to realize that there are few things necessary to ensure success in reaching any goal. The top three I want to expound upon are what I refer to as “The Three Ds for Success”. They are, in no particular order, determination, dedication, and discipline. You need all three to reach your goals, especially ones related to health and fitness.

Determination is often described as the act of arriving at a decision or a quality that makes you continue to try or achieve something that is difficult. That quality must be a part of you from day one. According to, losing weight is the number one resolution made each year (I think we could have all guessed that!) and only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. You have to be serious and determined if you are going to succeed. Don’t waste your time, and money, if you aren’t ready for a change. It takes time to get used to an adjustment in your diet and activity level, especially if this is your first attempt.

Dedication is a quality that you must possess in order to see your goal through. From the moment you set your mind on something until you step on that scale and see the number you have been waiting for, you have to be dedicated to the process of achieving that goal. You have to be consistent and dedicated to the plan you have set for yourself. So many people set a goal on January 1 and by January 31 it’s out the window. When it comes to health and fitness, it can’t just be a fad or passing thing. This has to be a lifestyle change. You can’t just go to the gym one or two days a week and expect to see the same results of those who go five days a week. You can’t eat a good breakfast and think that you’ve done enough for the day.

Discipline is a must-have for any dietary or training plan to work. When I train for a figure competition, I give myself 12 weeks for complete preparation. That means five to six days a week I am in the gym and follow a very restricted diet plan. How many times during that 12 weeks do you think I wanted to go out to eat with my family or try some of my kids’ Halloween candy? But I had to keep my eye on the prize. I sucked it up and packed my food in plastic containers whenever my family ate out at a restaurant. I didn’t cut out on days that I just didn’t really feel it in the gym. I pushed through every workout and left nothing to chance. Regret is a very bad feeling.

Here’s a test question for you: If you start this new plan on January 1, and on January 4 your friends call and invite you to go out for dinner and drinks that night, what are you going to do? You cannot, I repeat, You CANNOT outwork a bad diet. What you eat is 80% of the results you see. Don’t think that because you went to the gym that day that you can now eat whatever you want. You can’t. You’ll end up in the same shape you started, except you will feel very discouraged and most likely give up.

A good idea is to set a realistic goal, set a timely deadline, and set a little reward. If you hit your mark in the allotted time you have given yourself then reward yourself with a little treat, whether it be a new pair of pants or a cupcake. Continue with your healthy lifestyle to maintain your weight and avoid “the yo-yo effect”.

Another piece of advice is to always be prepared! If you plan to be away from your home, running errands for example, and don’t know if you’ll be home in time to have a healthy meal, then pack one. It doesn’t matter if it is a protein shake or an actual meal in a Tupperware container. Take something with you so you’re not tempted to eat something that will hinder your progress.

Track your progress with weekly weigh-ins, workout journals, and progress pictures to encourage yourself. To stay motivated, put pictures of people who inspire you and quotes that raise your spirits around your house, on your computer, or on your desk at work. A word of caution, don’t compare yourself to those you admire. They have put in the work and demonstrated the Three Ds; now it’s your turn.

I’m not going to lie, this can be a difficult transition, but it is a rewarding one. This is as much of a mental workout as a physical one. Just remember, it’s you against you. Do you want to be the best you that you can be? Whenever you think of quitting, ask yourself one question: will your decision make you happier or will you be full of regret?