By Joe Cartwright, B.A., CPT
January is here, and along with the New Year comes the hope for change. Whatever that hope may be, let’s make it a tangible goal this year instead of something that slips through our fingers and gets put on the back-burner until next January. According to staticbrain.com, health related resolutions make up about 38% of the countries New Year’s resolutions, and losing weight is the most popular. The stats also show that only 8% of people are having success with achieving their goal. Why is this? Is it too hard, are we not disciplined enough, are the resolutions not realistic, do we just not have enough time? These all might be reasons, but I think the real problem is we are going about it all wrong.
No one wants to give up their morning routine of coffee and donuts that they have been doing for 3 years, or Friday night pizza gorging with buddies; that isn’t fun. No one wants to add working out 5 days a week when you haven’t picked up a dumbbell since you were trying to impress that woman in the gym that is now your wife. This is because you shouldn’t take those things out or add that much to your week! Too many people try to drastically alter their routine too quickly and become overwhelmed and burn themselves out. This leads to a slow crawl back into the same hole that has been dug for years and years. We have to make slow progressions to get a resolution that will last. We have a quote by John Wooden at Intelligent Fitness that says, “Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvements one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens. And when it happens, it lasts.” This is the key to making the health changes you want.
If exercise is what you would like to add more of this year, then try getting a workout in one day in the week if you haven’t exercised at all in a long time. Don’t make a time limit on the workout, don’t go until you puke. Even if you put your coat on, and walk a fast lap or two around the neighborhood, that is a win! You have 365 days to make this resolution a habit. Start with one day and gradually work your way up to 5 days a week or whatever your ultimate goal may be.
If nutrition is your goal, DO NOT cut out your daily or weekly routine that you have done for years. Simply reduce the amount of that habit you have created. For instance, if you eat 5 pieces of pizza every Friday night, cut it down to 4. Slowly find ways to substitute really bad choices for more acceptable choices. For example, if you have to have chips in your life, try tortilla chips instead of Doritos with homemade salsa. You have to explore different options and foods that you will like; if it doesn’t taste good you aren’t going to make it a habit. Vegetables can be hard to eat, try different types of veggies and try cooking, raw, steaming, and eating them with different herbs and spices.
Slow progressions will make those New Year’s resolutions turn into lifelong habits. Enjoy chalking up the tiny wins of the day, because by the time August rolls around your win of the day will have gone from a brisk fifteen minute walk to your third, one hour workout for the week. Don’t forget to look back on the progress you have made, because that is the fuel to make the future gains to a lifetime of health and happiness!