Ah, the New Year. We know what the New Year brings: resolutions.
You know, those things we make but never ever keep. We start out in January, thinking this is the year we’ll finally get fit/thin/learn yoga/stop smoking. But March rolls around (or February for some of us) and all that motivation peters out.
Why? Because radically changing your habits and lifestyles is hard and usually not fun (because it means doing something we might not find enjoyable, like eating celery or walking a treadmill). That’s why. It never works.
What are we to do then?
Too many people go to a new gym, meet with a dietician and a personal trainer, and get set up with a whole new menu and workout routine, but they just can’t stick with it. It doesn’t mean that having a personal trainer or a dietician are bad things (quite the opposite!) but that starting out with new
everything – new schedule, new menu, new workouts – is too much at one time. We start to resent the changes, the disruption in our comfortable lives, and don’t feel as bad when we lapse back into our old routine. It’s almost like a reward: “Hey, I’ve stuck with it two weeks, I deserve a big midnight pizza and a day off of the gym!” But that one day turns into another day off (“I’ll go tomorrow!”), which then turns into a whole week…
You see where this is going.
The siren call of our old lifestyle is too irresistible.
The trick is to make small changes. While this may not be as satisfying, it will be much easier to stick to in the long run. And you won’t notice it as much; it won’t feel like such an intrusion. So instead of changing everything, change one thing.
Drink too much soda? Replace one a day with water. Hey, you don’t even have to get rid of all of them, just start with one a day! Need more time at the gym? Stay an extra few minutes (on the treadmill or add another set of reps) one night, rather than putting a whole new day, or more, into the routine. Skip the cupcake today and try an apple instead. Bring your lunch one day this week instead of going out.
Getting fit and being healthy is not a race. You don’t have any one to beat but yourself, so take it at your own pace. Yeah, it’s not the radical weight loss or muscle gain that we really want, but what’s better? Another year not meeting those resolutions at all, or a year in which progress – however small – has been made?
Just like coming out to family, friends, or the rest of the world, it might take some getting used to and a lot of adjustment in our own lives. It may mean making sacrifices, like not hanging out as much with certain people, maybe because all they do is eat out and you’re trying to lose a few pounds. It may mean cutting people or habits out of your life all together, and that’s not ever pleasant. Here’s an unhappy surprise: people will try to sabotage your will, and a lot of times, it works. They’ll wear you down, trying to get you to have a few more drinks, or order than late night pizza, or skip your workout to go hang.
If getting healthy (whatever that means to you) is important enough, you’ll have to learn to say no to these people. It doesn’t mean you can’t hang with them. It might just mean hanging with them at the gym, rather than the pizza joint. (And hey, workout buddies are the best! They keep us motivated, honest, and give us an excuse to go other than, “I need to get fit” which often isn’t motivation enough!)
What small change are YOU planning to make this year?