New Year New You
Resolutions are about as American as apple pie (mmmm, pie). Many of us resolve to abstain from that pie or join a gym or go to the gym more. Thousands flock to gyms in January, and you might be heading there, too. This is a great first step to a healthier lifestyle! Unfortunately, statistics show the vast majority of New Year’s Resolutioners either quit the gym entirely or just stop going after only 5 months. Some report those numbers as high as 80% of new members.
I’ve seen fitness blogs encourage people to change the month they start to avoid becoming a statistic. They say February may be a better time: fewer crowds and there’s less “novelty” to the resolution. Then it’s more a conscious decision to attend. I disagree. I think there’s no better time than the present to start your journey into fitness and a healthier life. Instead, we should look into why the majority of new gym members fall off the map by May of the same year.
You’re Going to Fail, and That’s OK.
Whether your resolution is to go on a diet and lose weight, go to the gym 4 days a week, read a new book every month, swear less; whatever that new goal is, at some point you’re going to fail. I don’t say this to scare you. Failure itself is not the reason people quit. We’re only human, after all. Only a very small percentage of people can maintain a strict diet 365 days per year or hit the gym for 2 hours a day, 5-6 days every week religiously. And, unless you’re a professional athlete, I would argue that this lifestyle is unhealthy.
Your kid is going to have a birthday, and there’s going to be cake. There’s going to be a Monday morning where that 5 am alarm goes off, and you hit snooze instead of going to the gym. Your entire office goes to happy hour, and you have a drink or two. Whatever the reason, everyone falls short at some point. It might be during the first week of your resolution or two months later, but it’s going to happen. Remember, people who succeed do so despite their failures. Every time they stumble, they get up again.
Guilt Is Your Worst Enemy
While there may be other reasons in the mix why people quit the gym, guilt is a driving factor. Fitness-based social media can be inspiring at times, but, too often, all we see are perfect, sculpted bodies. Their smiling faces tell us that, “It’s easy. All that’s standing between you and your ideal body is a little willpower.” (Oh, and their next “Get Fit Quick” scheme or ridding “toxins” with their juice plan. )
So we convince ourselves it’s really just that easy. We don’t recognize the hard work and sacrifice it takes to achieve these “perfect”, beach bodies. Maybe perfection wasn’t your goal. Even then, we still beat ourselves up for missing a Monday workout. Or having that donut in the break room on a stressful day. Then we derail the whole plan by sleeping in all week because we feel guilty. Or say “screw it” to the diet and that one tiny “cheat” turns into an entire day or an entire week. Because obviously the only day we can get back on track is Monday. Right? WRONG!
Consistency is Key
Fitness and a healthy lifestyle is not a quick fix. Nor should it be. It’s not something dedicated to a weekly timetable. So Monday sucked. Maybe Tuesday was iffy, too. This doesn’t mean Wednesday can’t be better. Health is the result of years of consistent habit. One little slip up is not going to derail your progress (regardless of any short-term difference in the scale). What will ruin your progress is allowing a slight error to affect the entire week. Or month. Tempting us into giving up altogether.
So you overslept and missed the gym on Monday morning. So what? Enjoy your morning. Spend a little more time eating breakfast with your family before work. Then get back to it Tuesday, guilt-free. Had a few pieces of pizza for lunch instead of the salad you packed? No reason to give up on the diet! Eat that salad for dinner rather than dumping the diet.
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? As long as you’re doing the “right” things 80% of the time, that 20% of living life is not going to ruin your ultimate goal over time. We want instant gratification in this world. Sure, that weekend beer might be a short-term setback but is insignificant in the course of a year of mostly healthy choices.
Here’s to 2019!
Seriously, get after those New Year’s Resolutions! But don’t let them cause stress and anxiety in your life. Did you make those resolutions because you want to live a healthy life and celebrate what your body is capable of? Or did you make them because you feel guilty for how you look, tinged with a bit of secret self-loathing?
Think about it. Because the difference in the “why” can influence your efforts and results. Working out should feel good and compliment your life. Give yourself a break here and there when life gets in the way. Stay on track 80% of the time. Just because you may not see huge differences by the end of January, don’t quit. By January 2020, you’ll be happy you stuck to your resolutions. It’s a New Year. Let’s make a New You, together.
Jess Bateman has combined a knowledge of Orthopedics and injury prevention to benefit many athletes in the world of functional fitness and weightlifting. She herself has both competed at a national level in Olympic Weightlifting and spent the last five years coaching Senior and Youth athletes, as well as having obtained a USAW-SPC credential.