December 31st is a fascinating day because our culture has been driving so much of our recent activities, but soon the realities of our lives will “kick in” once again!
There are the imminent end of vacations from work; possible returns from trips to warmer climes; the frustrations and pleasures of gifts: the numerous social functions (some being obligations while others are happy choices); most enjoyable eating habits… and then there are our New Year resolutions!
New Year resolutions are an interesting tradition because, while most of us make them, we know that statistically the chance of failure is extremely high. We make them anyway, and there is an element of fun and wishful thinking behind each one of them.
Weight, health and fitness will impact a very high percentage of New Year Resolutions. Fitness Clubs are well aware of this and promote accordingly. In fact I believe they will sell memberships such that if everybody showed up at the same time, they would be well over their legal capacity. Daily visits to the Fitness Club are not unusual in January which makes for some very busy moments however, what the clubs know is that active members decrease rapidly from the end of January.
So many of us make our resolutions with the best of intentions, but we seem to focus on what we really need to do vs what we really want to do. It is easy to say “I am going to exercise regularly and lose 40lbs (e.g.) next year”, but if it is not a high priority, then you will never have the free time to exercise, and time may well dictate fast food more often that it should.
We all have the same amount of time available to us, but the differences between us are how we are using such time. Perhaps over today and tomorrow, it may be beneficial to review your resolutions and ask yourself “Are all these really important to me?”… and revise accordingly!
I recently heard an interesting “twist” on how to determine New Year resolutions. The idea was to project yourself to Dec 31 2017, and visualize your achievements over the 2017 year! Once you have praised yourself for doing so well during 2017, you come back to the present and note those achievements as your New Year resolutions… but then you go to the next step. You plan!
It is too easy to say “I am going to lose 40lbs.” or “I am going to run a 5km road race”, or even “I am going to exercise regularly”, but the potential for success is limited because the aspects of “How?” and “When?” are not addressed and as such there is no personal accountability. If the plan is to lose 40lbs over the next year, then you should target a 20lbs reduction by the end of June. You should be seeing a slightly over 3lbs/month reduction. The advantage of such a program is that if (e.g.) you have only lost 15lbs by the end of June, then you know that you have to lose an additional 5lbs within the next few months.
Running a 5km road race also needs planning for it to be realized. Depending on your running background, you may need clearance from a doctor first (be safe!), and then you will need to know how to progress from perhaps a non-runner to a 5km runner. Talking to local running shoe stores and track clubs will offer insights into training, but this stage is critical because you need to ultimately plan on which 5km road race you will enter! Our bodies need time to adjust to any new activity and, like losing weight, it would therefore be beneficial to commit to a certain level of achievement every month which will culminate in your 5km!
“I am going to exercise regularly” is pretty much doomed from the start unless more details are noted. i.e. What does regularly mean? Once that has been established, then the question of “Why?'”becomes important. Part of our psyche is very predictable in that if we are going to put some effort into an activity, we need sufficient “feedback” to prove that it is all worthwhile.
Running is easy to monitor! You can simply time yourself over a set distance, or acknowledge your slowly extending distances. You will smile as you watch that time fall, or your distance increases, as your training progresses. “Exercising regularly” needs to have some measurable aspect attached to it. Perhaps a count of sit-ups, or push-ups, of some weight exercises. If you can see your ability increase, you are much more likely to persevere!
Whether you take a second look at your resolutions for 2017, or whether you go to Dec 31 2017 and reflect back on your perceived achievements… and use that as your goals for the coming year, I shall wish you all the very best. Have a wonderfully productive 2017, and may all your dreams and aspirations for the New Year become realities.