Do Not Start a Diet or Exercise Resolution Today
It’s January 1st and if you’re starting a new diet or exercise program today, chances are you’ve already failed.
January marks the most notorious time of the year for fitness and health, as scores of new gym members suddenly, as if hit by a lightning bolt from the gods themselves (or maybe it was one-too-many servings of Yule Log), resolve to get in better shape and start a diet.
Hopefully, not you too.
If you’re wanting to make a change the outlook is not good if you’ve decided this at the same time as all the “resolutionists.”
Why didn’t you take action when you felt dissatisfied with how you were feeling after Thanksgiving?
“Oh, well the holiday season is just starting and it’ll be hard to stick to my diet, plus I’ve got so much to do in getting ready for the holidays that I just don’t have time to go to the gym now. I’ll just wait until the new year.”
Yes, I just said balderdash, because unlike your antiquated excuses, it’s an expletive that will never go out of style.
It’s never much easier to eat nutritious foods that help you to be a better human being when you’ve got hyper-palatable, mad scientist creations flooding the grocery store shelves that literally tickle your senses.
You just get better at making the right decisions once the habits that are beneficial to your health become ingrained as part of your routine.
The glaring, fluorescent gym lighting and cold, hard, frozen trail never become a pleasant sight compared that warm, cozy bed calling to you to hit the snooze button at 5:30 when it’s the only time for you to workout before you go off to work for the day.
You have to have the discipline to make the tough decisions over and over again because you’ve found a goal you want bad enough to keep it up.
New Year’s resolutions are the flavour of the week that is always going to repeat itself in the first few weeks of January. As gym owners and personal trainers know, the vast majority of resolutionists don’t even have enough motivation to get through to the end of the month.
You’ve got to have a burning desire for change in order to keep up the practices that make meaningful changes to your health. There are no shortcuts, so what’s your strategy for long-term success?
Maybe you truly do want to make a change and you’ve just happened to magically decide that it’s important enough on New Years Day that you are ready to make a change. You’ve accepted the call to start your journey.
Now let’s look at how you can avoid becoming another statistic that drops off within six weeks.
Know what you are doing and why it’s going to work for you.
You don’t have to have all the answers but you should know if something is going to actually work for you long term. Ask yourself a few simple questions.
Why are you choosing this particular diet or exercise program?
Most often something has piqued your interest that sounds fantastic and too good to be true. Well, maybe it is hyperbole. In a realm so intertwined with vanity, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to fads. First and foremost, you need whatever it is you choose to do to last longer than the “biweekly blast for a bigger booty” or “six steps to a six-pack” program.
Maybe your goal is those booty gains or you want to be lean enough to see your abs for the first time since high school or maybe the first time ever. That’s great; you’ve got a goal and now it’s time to accept that there are no six-week shortcuts to achieving it.
Can you actually stick to the program?
Finding a training program or diet that you want to follow is sort of like finding a coach or mentor to help you along the way — something that gives you guidance — but all the work and accountability rests on your shoulders alone.
Can you stick to the program you’ve chosen to follow?
You’ve heard so many people are following ketogenic diets, so it must work really well for weight-loss.
Calories in vs. calories out still reigns supreme regardless of what diet you choose to follow.
‘Keto’ can work well for many people, but will it work for you? Keto diets for a lot of people are next to impossible to adhere to. Unless you’ve got a deeper medical reason for going into ketosis, why are you even trying to be that strict with your diet?
If you think that you are somewhat addicted to carbs/sugar or your nutrition coach has suggested your metabolic flexibility might need improvement (a fancy way of saying that your body is capable of using both fats and carbohydrates well for energy), you might benefit from strategically cutting out carbohydrates from your diet may be for certain days or periods of the day, but you don’t have to have zero carbs in your diet.
Diets still work first and foremost, because you’ve reduced the calories that you are consuming in contrast to the energy that you are using by being alive and through exercise.
If you actually enjoy the foods that you are eating and slowly introduce the principles that will help you to become healthier, you’re going to have a much better chance of adhering to the dietary changes long-term and finding life-changing success.
Similarly, if your workout program isn’t something you enjoy and you find it soul-sucking to do each workout that’s been designed for you or that you’ve jumped on board with, you’re not going to stick to it.
Start with something that you enjoy. If working out is like pulling teeth to you and ‘enjoy’ is too strong of a word, start with something that is at least easy for you to adhere to. It may be a 15-minute high-intensity circuit or an hour-long training boot camp. It may be twice per week or you’re happy with four days already.
These details are actually minor things to worry about.
Consistency is what matters most.
Start with small accomplishments.
Win each day. Step by step.
Every time you go to the gym and complete the workout, give yourself a win. Every time that you stick to your diet at each meal, give yourself another win. Let those small victories add up over time and strive to get more wins than losses in your tally.
Get some help along the way
We all face moments where we don’t want to make the tough decision to go slog through another workout, yet again, or eat more of that bitter kale salad when all we want is a juicy, mouthwatering cheeseburger.
When getting started, don’t let it all rest on your shoulders alone.
Get some help with accountability.
There are so many ways to accomplish this depending on your own motivation, as well as your budget.
Hiring an experienced and qualified coach to help you with your fitness and nutrition goals is the best option for developing the principles for long-term success if you don’t know where to start and you need help with adherence.
If your budget is limited you can often find great coaches that are more than willing to teach you the basics in just a few sessions together so that you have the routines to follow on your own for success.
You can also use a limited budget to place a bet with another highly determined friend or use a goal-based service like stickK. Be wary of this option though as it can backfire if you race to the finish line of the goal and then abandon ship with all the better habits you’ve been working on developing.
Money is highly incentivizing to helping humans adhere to and achieve goals, but if it’s not realistic for you to spend any more money and you still need help, don’t worry, there are still many options.
Find a training partner or friend who is also motivated to achieve his or her goal and work together to keep each other accountable. Message each other daily or in times of need and set a schedule for meeting in person or for phone calls to check in with each other and talk through any success and struggles.
Social media can be another good way to harness the power of like-minded groups to reach your goal. Make a pledge online to achieve your goal and your close friends will know to check in to hold you accountable as well as not tempt you into things that will veer you from your goal.
Online communities, like forums and group chats, for common goals, can work the same way, but there is a higher chance of negativity and misleading advice, so tread carefully.
Remember to stay on track. In 6 weeks you’ll feel better and start to notice the differences; in 6 months you’ll be on your way to becoming a brand new person.
It’s tough to separate the New Years resolutionists from those who’ve got a burning desire to answer the call to truly transform their life that happens to coincide with the start of a new year. Don’t get caught up in the hype that surrounds this time of year if you are on a quest to reinvent yourself. Figure out what’s your primary goal for the next 6–8 weeks and break it down into steps that will actually work for you. If you don’t know where to begin or are struggling to hold yourself accountable, seek help from friends or qualified coaches to keep you on track.
Don’t give up. It’s going to take a lot longer than you think to reach your ultimate goal but find the things along way that you enjoy and it’ll become easier day by day to keep it up.