New Year, New you? The reality of New Year’s resolutions

This time every year, which really starts developing during Thanksgiving week, people start the ‘My New Year’s resolution is to get in shape’ narrative.  Grand plans are made and announced, gyms are selected, great recipes are found and the motivation to do it all is there.  It’s a perfect world and New Year.  Here’s the reality.

By March the New Year’s resolutions are out the window.  The excuses of “I’m too busy” or “it was just not working” has us returning to our pre New Year’s Resolution life.  I get.  I remember it well.  I would get on the scale only to see I GAINED weight rather than lose the 10lbs I ridiculously expected to after only one week at the gym.  This was always followed up with, “WTF am I doing wrong?  I’m doing everything right.  Screw this, it’s too hard and I want birthday cake.”

Yep, I know.  I sometimes think I had a hand in inventing some of those excuse based narratives. 

That is why a few years back I became the anti-New Year’s resolution girl.  And I am not wrong in adopting this mentality.  Just look at the statistics.  According to a Forbes article (1) only 8 percent of Americans stick to their NYR. A US News (2) article says it a bit differently stating the 80 percent of NYR fail.  In that article they say the failure occurs by the second week of February.  

But how do you stop that from happening?  How do you keep your
New Year’s Resolution?  By being realistic and seeing and avoiding the roadblocks you encounter.  Here is a look at the top roadblocks that cause
New Year’s Resolutions to fail, and some tips on how you can get around them.

The gym is the ring, your body is your opponent.

Pain.  It’s 2 January.  You’re now sober and ready to get after it.  You hit the gym full on like a pro MMA fighter.  In your head your theme song is playing.  The gym is now your ring and the opponent is your body.  Who will win?  Your body (pain) will.  Why?  It’s because you’re not a freakin’ MMA fighter. Nothing on MMA fighters, I love them, but people need to realize MMA fighters are elite athletes and we are at best, couch potatoes with wonderful intentions. That said, don’t feel defeated.  The gym is still your ring, your body is still your opponent, but you have to train hard and for the long haul (for life) to reach your goals.  Do you really think MMA fighters entered the gym, or better the ring, the badasses they are?  Hell no! They worked hard for it. They built up their skills and fitness in stages.  You have to work hard and build up your gym skills and fitness in stages too.  The only way to win the fight against your body is by pacing yourself.  Understand and accept that to achieve results and reach your goal, it takes time, effort and yes, hard work.  And, it will, AT FIRST, hurt because your body is fighting you.  

Remember your body is your opponent.  It will tell you to go back to the couch and eat crap foods again because when you did, you didn’t hurt.  Your body tries to trick you into believing that to be healthy is to hurt.  It’s a lie.  That’s the body’s right hook that is designed to knock you back to your old, unhealthy habits.  Don’t fall for it.  Duck, weave and attack your opponent (body) smartly.  Train in stages and only increase your output when you know you are ready.  Going to the gym and doing 100 walking lunges, 100 body weight squats and 100 jumping jacks… on the first day will only set you up to, not only fail, but be unable to move the next day.  There’s nothing like trying to sit on the toilet post a crazy/stupid workout the day prior only to end up falling into place.   It’s because your DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is so bad you can hardly move. So be smart.  Pace yourself, educated yourself, train smartly and control your body.  Don’t let it control you.  The pain will fade as you become more fit and healthy.    

Another roadblock is our favorite foods.  We start to miss them.  And holy hell, what witchcraft is used by mom’s and grandma’s around the world when they cook?  One visit home and the smell of homemade Mac and cheese – or for me, my mom’s potato salad – and we’re done.  I have no real good advice here. LOL!  I could say, just never go home for a visit, but that is not going to happen. Instead, try these tips. Don’t laugh, I am serious. 

The stronger the mint the better.

When you go home, chew the strongest sugar free mint gum you can find and keep chewing it. Chew it like you’re a 3 pack a day smoker.  When the flavor dies, shove more in.  That will cause you to not want to mix flavor with your mom’s yummy foods. Wintermint and marshmallow covered sweet potatoes don’t sound appealing.  You may eat some, but you will not want much or seconds.  Oh! And when you get done eating, start chewing your gum again.   

Another tip, stay the hell out of the kitchen!  Only go near food when the time to eat has arrived and the table is set. Most importantly, talk to your family.  Ask them to help you with your goal. Explain that family favorite foods are a serious temptation.  If your family responds with, ahh, it’s only one meal, then they don’t get it and you will cave to the temptation.    

This leads to the support system roadblock, or lack of one.  While we love our friends, family and significant others, they can be a huge roadblock.  Especially if they are also unhealthy and have no plans to change. Or, maybe there are fit and see no need to change their habits. It is very important to surround yourself with people who will help you on your journey to good health and well-being, and to identify who will derail you.  It won’t be easy.  Reduce your interactions with those who would rather you be unhealthy and eating chocolate lave cake a la mode with them.  Increase your time spent with new friends you meet at the gym.  Find your community that encourages you and your goals. It’s important. 

Find your community and support system.

Additionally, if home life lacks a support system, then be stealthy. Rather than cook two different meals – one meal for you and one for the non-participating members of your household, which is a pain – or announcing that you’re “changing the way I eat”, be crafty and just do it.  Don’t tell them anything; just start cooking healthy meals, period.  If they don’t like what you cooked, they can cook for themselves.  The reason I say be stealthy, is because for a lot of people, including children, once you announce, “we’re going to eat healthy” they automatically think food is going to taste like crap.  But if you just place healthy meals in front of them and don’t say a thing beyond, pass the salt, they will eat it and move on. 

The great byproduct of being a stealthy, healthy cook is your family will get healthier in the process and won’t even know it.  Win-win.

Other roadblocks do exist and you have to be mindful to see them. The three I mentioned here: pain from not working out smartly, the temptation of favorite/family foods and not having a solid support system are the major contributing factors for not being able to keep a New Year’s Resolution. Others like no time, being tired, no gym nearby, gym is too costly… are the easy ones to overcome.  No time ? If you have 30 minutes to kill on social media sites, you have 30 mins to workout.  Fatigued? By adopting a healthy lifestyle and becoming fit, your fatigue will go away. Exercise gives you more energy and you will sleep like a baby.  No gym/too costly? You don’t need a gym.  Google an at home, body weight program and start. You can do a workout in your living room, backyard or in a park.  I encourage you to go to the park. 

Every goal in life starts with one small achievable step.

My Dad had a saying: “what’s hard by the yard, is a cinch by the inch.” Meaning, develop achievable goals.  Start small. Learn a new healthy recipe each week. Over time, you will have learned how to cook amazing healthy meals that will become second nature for you.  After dinner, take a walk.  Instead of sitting in front of the TV or computer or on your phone, move and breathe in fresh air.  Bring your family along and bond.  If weight loss is your goal, then instead of, “I’m going to lose 50lbs in three months” say, “I want to lose 10lbs in six months by following this workout plan…”  Once you get there, you make a new goal.  Don’t overwhelm yourself right out the gate.  

Lastly, let’s talk about the wagon.  Unhealthy living can be viewed and sort of is viewed as an addiction. “I fell off the wagon when I ate…” you fill in the blank.  I know you’ve said it before.  I have. My addiction is to sugar/sweets.  My scenario went like this: “I fell off the wagon today; I ate a cookie at work. I may as well eat this big bowl of pasta now.” I fell off the wagon so often it was ridiculous.  Hell, all I did was chase the wagon.  Too bad you cannot lose weight chasing an idea. 

THIS WAS SOOOOO ME!!!

Then I learned that, “hello, my name is Sheryl, I’m addicted to sugar of all kinds…” and made the change to remove it from my life.  Am I 100 percent sugar free now?  No.  My change strategy was to know my problem, reduce my intake, which I did by about 80 percent, and leave the wagon behind.  Meaning, I don’t beat myself up anymore if I have a cookie or eat a small bag of potato chips.  And you know how that affected me?  It made me not want to eat the cookie or potato chips. 

When we are hyper focused on the “you can’t have that” mindset, all we want is what we shouldn’t be eating.  Instead, adopt the new mindset of, if I want it, I can have it. However, is it worth it?  It took some time for me to get used to this new way of thinking and retraining my brain to not beat myself into a mental oblivion, but I got there.  You can too; you just have to try.  And, if you choose to keep the wagon in your life, don’t fret if you fall off.  Just get back up on it and try again.  The only true failure in life is when we choose not to try or we stop trying all together.     

I hope this post helps you all with your NYR or life changes.  If you need a word of encouragement, drop a message in the comment box.  I will always help.  Good luck!

Peace and LovePeople.   

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