Is this you?
“I’m going to work out 90 minutes a day, six days per week, starting January 2! I am! Nothing will stop me. I’ll shake off the hangover, change my personality, be up in the gym working on my fitness, and change my life!”
No. No, you won’t. I know you. You’ll go once or twice. A week, tops. You’ll work so hard the first day that you’ll eat everything in sight for the rest of the day, feel crappy about it, and you’ll be too sore to do anything but hobble around the second day. It’ll be downhill from there. You’ll be back to sucking down beers and wings and talking about how next Monday is the “real deal.” And next holiday season when nothing has changed, you’ll start sandbagging until yet another January 2.
Are you SO sick of January 2?
As a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and dietary coach, I can tell you I am!
January 2 should be renamed “National Procrastinator’s Day.” The day we designate to face everything we are to afraid to face (and maybe fail at) today.
At the top of the list of procrastinations? Health and fitness.
So, to combat that . . . I’m prescribing your ANTI-New Years Resolution wake up call!
What can change this culture of perpetually kicking the can? Five simple goals.
Stop waiting for January 2, next Monday, or even tomorrow and just GET THERE! Whether it’s in your basement with a set of dumbbells, or a gym, or the open road, the most crucial moment is the moment you follow through on all the motivation you felt last night about today’s task. Are you really going to put your shoes on and go? It’s more than half the battle. It is the battle. The rest will come. Just show up.
In fact, try this. Show up right now. Put your phone down for a moment. Do 25 squats, 25 lunges, 25 push-ups, and hold a plank for one minute.
There. Feel different? Build on that. It might not be much, but if you’re currently doing nothing, it’s infinitely more.
2. Do Less. Do More!
Do less! If you’re out of shape, it likely didn’t happen over night. Do not expect anything different when traveling in the other direction. Extreme weight loss shows, and diet programs set us up for failure by leading us to believe real life is possible in such scenarios. Besides, if you overdo it out of the gate so hard that you’re suffering physically, you will likely repeat that workout exactly ZERO more times. Sustainable small changes will get you there. Start with short, compact workouts that don’t take much time, work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, and can be modified to your level. You can grow into them and you will get there.
Do more! I’ll never understand why people pay hundreds for gym memberships and then jockey for the closest parking place when they get there!
Take the stairs at work. Get up off your couch to change the channel! Push your lawnmower! Park far away whenever time allows. Stretch your muscles while waiting in lines. Get a standing desk. Walk your kids to school. Lunge up your stairs. Hang a pull-up bar in your bedroom door and make a deal that you don’t pass it without doing a few. Do more. It adds up.
3. Create a Community/Culture
Are you going to get out of bed at 5:00 AM if Dave or Beth is waiting at the corner for you? Are you going to get to that group fitness class because your friends are there to cheer you on, or show up for your trainer because you pay him a Benjamin every time you see him? Are your friends and family more likely to have your back and lay off pushing that beer and chili dog at you if you have a heart to heart with them and let them know you’re working to make a change? Of course, silly! Create a community and culture and put some skin in the game! Not only will you benefit, but you’ll also notice how many people you inspire. Your pebble dropped into the pond will push out change from the center further than you know.
4. Eat Simply
Today’s prescribed perfect diet is tomorrow’s condemned “never do this” fool’s way. It has always been this way. There are a few things that don’t bow to the winds of pop nutrition science. They are:
- Eat good food. Mostly plants. Not too much (Michael Pollan).
- Avoid processed junk.
- Limit alcohol.
I’m not advocating vegetarianism, though if that works for you, more power to you. I’m suggesting that obtaining a little more of your food from plant-based sources and cutting down a bit on animal sources can do your body a lot of good. If you have a nine-inch plate in front of you, load up half of it with non-starchy, fibrous vegetables, a quarter of it with a lean protein, and a quarter with a healthy carb such as a whole-grain, whole fruit, or root vegetable with skin on. Eat slowly and don’t have seconds.
Know also that “processed” is a word that is far too generalized to be helpful. That is why I say processed JUNK. Cheetos are processed junk. BCAA powder is a processed form of easily consumable amino acids crucial in aiding muscle growth. See the difference? Not all processed foods are created equally.
When it comes to booze, it’s pretty simple. No one likes a party pooper and you can still have a good time out on the town. But a person with an alcohol problem is just like a person with a food problem. You can be a healthy person who occasionally drinks in moderation, just like you can be a healthy person who occasionally has a burger, fries, and soda. Or you can be a person who hides in your car and stops at three fast food joints on the way home, or drinks a bottle of wine or six pack of beer each night. Drive the car. Don’t let the car drive you.
Do whatever it takes. Just DO whatever it takes to sleep. You must sleep. You cannot repair, renew, restore, or rebuild anything that breaks down during the day if you do not sleep. And the long-term consequences are disastrous. From immune issues, to weight gain, to mood and relationship trouble, you must sleep to thrive.
There are natural sleep aids that work with your body and are non-habit forming. There are apps that help you be mindful of bedtime and help you wind down, and even play white noise. There is help if you are struggling, but as hard as you work during the day, your body is at work JUST that hard or harder while you sleep, making sure you are recovered enough to wake up in the morning and do it all again.
The Internet is a great place to search for a solution that is right for you.
5. Journal and Meditate
Do you know what you were doing and thinking this moment last year? Or this week? Sometimes we don’t know where we have gone and what we have done until we look behind us at where we were. Sometimes journaling can help you face the reality that nothing has really changed, that maybe you need to do something different. It’s a good way to keep a pulse on who and where you are—and if it is, in fact, what you want for yourself.
Meditation is the key to examining that data. Is my reality what I want it to be? What is great about it?What can be better? What is my path to get there? Whether you believe in a God who will lead you, your own intrinsic compass, or something in between, usually you can’t make contact with anything or anyone until you sit quietly for a moment and tune in. It’s very hard at first. Letting your mind race in the beginning is normal, and the only way to start. You’re completely on the right track if at first it is miserable. It takes time. But gradually the chatter will fall away and you’ll get to know YOU!
Finally, as a mom of five who battled a soft and unhealthy body most my life, and who in my thirties became a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and nutritional weight loss coach, my biggest piece of advice is to toss out that calendar. Pick just one of these seven goals and start today. Now. And just let the others go. Let your intuition guide you as to when it’s time to add another. Nothing that is not sustainable will last. If you make a “goal” to implement all seven elements tomorrow, or Monday, or on January 2, you will surely be reading another article like this, with the same false hope, next December. Let’s be done with January 2 once and for all.