Ah, yes, the New Year is just around the corner and as you’re staring at the calendar in the office, a flashback of a not-so-distant memory strikes you.
There you are – getting dressed for the New Year party your friends couldn’t shut up about all month. The place, the people, the drinks, the lavish atmosphere and most of all, the stunning view – the anticipation is killing you! Yet you’re stuck. You’ve been in your room for the past 30 minutes, dissatisfied with every outfit you’ve put on. The first one makes you look fat, the second one accentuates something that you definitely don’t want accentuated, the third just looks plain silly, and the fourth makes you look like that one creepy dude that hangs around your neighborhood.
It’s not the clothes’ fault, it’s you! You don’t like the way you look! The clock is ticking behind your earlobe but you’re paralyzed, you’re almost ready to pull out your phone and text your mates that you’re not coming. Something urgent has popped up… But you end up going. And you feel uncomfortable during the whole thing.
As you slowly come back to present times, your office monitor’s light gently reminding you of all the work you have left to do – you decide that it’s time to make a change. It’s time to conquer the upcoming year and get into the best shape of your life!
That’s only one of the many ways we form New Year’s Resolutions – the grandiose promises we make at the end of each year, convincing ourselves that as long as we repeat the mantra “New Year, New Me” enough times, we will manifest the change we so desperately want.
Despite our endless determination and resolve, our NYR’s fail dramatically. By the middle of January, we’re already exhausted and we don’t know if we can keep up. By the end of the month we have a long list of reasons as to why quitting isn’t that bad. And then, by the time February comes along, we find ourselves in our couch, with a bag of chips and two cans of beer, the remote gently resting on our now plump belly, and our significant other staring us down with disdain from the other end of the sofa.
How did this happen? Why were we so eager to embark on our fitness journey and then allow ourselves to fail so miserably?
There are a myriad of reasons as to why we go from 100 to 0 in a matter of days, and this is exactly what this article aims to address. Keep reading to find out why our New Year’s Resolutions are destined to fail from the start and what steps can we take to make them stick in a healthy way.
Reason №1: You expect too much, too soon
As soon as January 1st comes around, we’re ready to jump into our workout pants and t-shirt, put on our running shoes and immediately start bench pressing bodyweight. Yeah, that’s not very clever. Nor will it happen, actually.
We have this idea of change in our head, and we want it now! We need it now! We’re so eager for it, that we make these long, complicated plans and training programs which we’re absolutely sure we’ll follow to a T.
That’s good and all, but there’s one big problem – most of us have no experience. We haven’t run more than a mile, we haven’t lifted weights since high school, we virtually have no clue what we’re doing, and neither does our body, for that matter.
We push ourselves too hard, and by the end of week 2 our entire body is aching, we can barely walk, lifting anything becomes impossible, and don’t even get us started on lower back pain… So we quit. If it’s going to hurt this bad, we’d better just not do it, right? We’re not cut off for this kind of thing…
What’s the fix? Slow and steady wins the race
Admit to yourself that you’re not prepared, because you really aren’t. Don’t expect to magically get in shape in three months. Start slow: workout two to three times a week, increasing the weight only if it starts becoming too easy. If you’re trying to build a running habit, simply go for a few walks first. Feel the shoes, feel the track, get an idea of what your routine will look like. Then, slowly start running – a couple of meters, a couple hundred, a mile. If you start getting tired, walk it off and give the day a wrap. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, you’re just starting out, and whether it’s weightlifting, running, swimming, or any other habit you wish to build – everybody is a beginner at some point.
Reason №2: Your goals are abstract
You’re looking at yourself in the mirror and it suddenly hits you – you need to get in shape! But what does that even mean? What does “in shape” look like? What does “being fit” actually mean and how does one become “fit”? What are all the steps that need to be taken?
Getting fit is a very vague goal, and our brain doesn’t like vague goals because it can’t figure out what’s the most optimal step to achieve them. Thus, it ends up being overwhelmed and tired.
Promising ourselves that we’re going to get in shape next year is like saying “I’m going to get a job.” The issue here is that we can’t get a job out of the blue – there are several processes that we need to handle beforehand.
Polishing our CV, applying to jobs, writing cover letters, going to interviews – this is what “finding a job” consists of.
In the same way, “being fit” consists of getting gym clothes, going to the gym, stretching, working out, eating properly, sleeping properly, drinking enough water, reducing stress levels and being consistent.
What’s the fix? Set concrete, short-term, and easy to keep track of goals
Start small – this week you’re going to go to the gym and run on the treadmill, after which you’ll do a set of squats, a set of deadlifts, and a set on the bench press. That’s it. Don’t put too much stress on yourself, set a realistic goal that you could do without too much hassle. Not only are you more likely to achieve your goals, but you are more likely to come back next week and repeat them. Why? Because those are the only milestones on your list, and you know that consistently reaching them will eventually lead to you getting in shape. When you get the hang of it, start paying attention to more things – nutrition, water intake, sleep. After a couple of months of short-term goals you might want to commit to something long-term, for example in the following month, you’ll add in some cardio on the weekend. Keep your goals concrete and definite and your consistency, along with your results, will skyrocket!
Reason №3: You’re neither doing what works for you, nor what you love
You’re watching that clip again, aren’t you? Yeah, the one in which your favorite content creator is doing that weird chest exercise. You’re dying to try it, since the gains it promises are stellar! You’re so determined, in fact, that you buy an entire fitness program, containing all kinds of wacky sit ups, curls, crunches, twists, rotations and what have you.
Then, you open a new tab and you start watching your other favorite fitness guru – the one who runs twenty miles without stopping, is ripped, has a beautiful six-pack and attracts the opposite sex like a magnet. You want to be exactly like them! So, you start searching for the best running shoes on the market. You’re dire to get into shape and you’re going to do whatever it takes!
That’s very good and all, but… Do you really like doing intricate chest exercises that make you feel like you need to know calculus to do them properly? Do you really like running for miles and miles? Are you really willing to do the things you hate since high school, just to get in shape?
What’s the fix? Find what you love and stick to it.
There is no best way to exercise. There, we said it. There’s only one way to exercise, however. The way that works for you!
You don’t like doing crunches? Fine, don’t! Running’s not your thing? You can walk or cycle instead? You’re not a fan of pull-ups? Nobody’s forcing you to do a single one!
The key is to find something you enjoy, no matter what it is and no matter what the so-called experts say about it. As long as it doesn’t hurt and you can see results, you’re on the right track.
Not only are you more likely to go to the gym more often, knowing that you’re going to have a fun time, reinforcing the habit, but you’re also going to feel much better afterwards, without the exhaustion and dread that follows doing something that feels forced.
So, are you up for the task?
We’ve given you the three major reasons why our NYR’s fail, and we’ve shown you three proven ways to circumvent them. Combine our tips and ideas to achieve those goals you’ve been dreaming of! You’ll thank us for it later, but you’ll also thank yourself – for sticking to them and keeping your promises.
In a matter of time, you’ll be standing in your room, dressing up for the next party and you’ll be thinking of all the clothes you could put on, that would accentuate those stunning shoulders, hips, or whatever else you want to show off!
Take it easy, so that you can take it to the next level!