They’re out there again.
The January people.
You know them. They’re in your gym, or your studio, or your wod.
With their shiny new outfits, and shoes, and the very latest of headphones and apps on their phones, letting them know what their BPM is on a minute by minute basis and what type of kale smoothie they should have later based on their caloric expenditure. Or whatever.
I don’t wish them ill. Honestly. Anyone who is trying to change their life for the better, I have nothing but respect and the best positive hopes for. I just wish they wouldn’t sit on my machine while answering their texts or talking to their life coach.
….but I digress…
So here we are . It’s Jan. 12th-ish and we’ve been at this New Year’s resolution thing for a couple weeks. The glow of “it’s a new year, it’s a new me!” is starting to fade into “ I miss cookies” and “this meal planning is a pain in the ass”. So this blog is aimed at a certain, shrinking group of people. Those who are hanging on to their New Year’s resolutions. Yeah, you. I’m talking to you.
Statistically, you’re already a hardy minority. When it comes to resolutions, 77% of people last a week. 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will actually fulfill those goals in a timely fashion. Research from athletic social networking site Strava reveals that January 12th is the most common day for the formerly resolute to start waving that white flag. By the second week of February, some 80 percent of those resolution-ers are back home with a new kind of remorse staring back at them in the mirror – the remorse of disappointment.
But why? Why are you beating yourself up? “f you gained 12 pounds over the holiday season, why do you think you can lose it in a week if it took basically 12 weeks to gain? There are no quick fixes—there’s no such thing. Just hard work on the road to success.
The unfortunate truth is that change, all change, entails some degree of emotional friction, which in turn generates a state we call stress. Whether you’re feeling anxious, depressed, frustrated, fatigued, weak and out of control, or simply bored, emotional friction (stress) becomes the fuel of failure. That stress you feel is your choices, your lifestyle, changing. When it comes to handling the stress involved in change, many people share the fundamental problem of self-sabotage. As unwelcome and “not what you wanted to hear” as this answer may be, one way or another it all boils down to self-discipline.
I know. Doesn’t that suck?
Essentially, you build self-discipline by willfully enduring the transient discomfort of changing who and what you are. You’re not born with self-discipline; you acquire it. Like a muscle, you need to develop your self-discipline muscle, one challenge at a time. Starting today, instead of reflexively feeling a need to minimize or escape the friction involved in change, recognize instead the need to endure it.
OK Bob. How do we do that? The answer is, slowly and with some difficulty. But here’s some ideas;
- 1. Think small. Begin with small successes. Throughout the day, find simple challenges that you make happen.
- 2. Build self-trust. Once you get used to making small things happen, begin to recognize and embrace the fact that you actually CAN do it!
- 3. Look for short term goals. A vacation at the beach ( ie wearing a bathing suit in public) is great motivation for weight management. Need a new pair of pants/slacks? set a goal that you have to reach before you buy. Small success breeds self confidence.
- 4. Optimism. I have a hard time with this from time to time. I can find one negative aspect of an otherwise great life and fixate on that one thing. No one’s life is without negatives. The key is to train yourself to focus on the positives.
- 5. Be accountable to another person. Sometimes we care more about what others think of us. It’s not an entirely great point of view, but it can certainly help in the case of achieving short term goals, and personally I will do whatever it takes to get from here to there.
- Make exercise a priority. It has to be a non-negotiable. I look at my fitness like my meals. And I don’t skip meals. And BTW, if you skip meals, or “forgot to eat “, I really, really don’t understand you.
- 6. Exercise even when you’re “too tired.” Chances are, you’ll feel better after exercising. Or you won’t. There are days when I don’t want to exercise. I’m not happy when I’m going into the gym.
And when I’m done? Often, I’m still not happy.
It doesn’t happen a lot. But it does. However, even if I’m still not happy. A part of my brain still realizes that “ Hey dude, scoreboard. There’s doing it, and there’s not doing it. And you did it. Now stop the whining and get on with your day.”
I try to practice tough love with myself. There’s a punchline to this, but you’ll have to ask me for it.
OK, here’s the good news. If you’re still on that resolution horse, you’ve ridden further than most. You’ve put yourself in a position to create a habit.Researchers at UCL concluded through a series of experiments, that it takes on an average about 66 days to form a new habit.You are well on your way. You’ve gotten this far. Remember why you started in the first place and keep it going.
I wish you the best and hope you’re not one of the “January people”. Stick around. After January / February, those of us with the ratty, old, beat to crap gym clothes are still around. And it’s a much more mellow hang.
Except for the steroid crowd. They’re always a little tense.