It’s that time of year again. The air is chilled, Christmas music playing and people frantically preparing for the holidays. A time of happiness and joy (unless you’re stuck with exams until December 23rd) and lots of good food. It’s not uncommon to see everyone relax their routines and push their health and fitness until the new year. Everyone sits around the dinner table and verbalizes what their “New Year’s Resolution” will be. It happens every year and as soon as January arrives you see a rush of enthusiasm. Before you blink, the rush is over and everyone has fallen back into their old habits. So the question is this: what’s the deal with New Year’s resolutions?
Here are some statistics from Statistics Brain from 2015 (can’t comment on the validity). The most common resolution people make is some form of self-improvement. Of the resolutions in that category, weight loss is at the top of the list. Let’s look at the numbers. Of the people who make resolutions, 49% have infrequent success while 24% fail altogether. Only 8% of people who made a resolution stuck with it and were successful. Of resolutions made, only 46% make it past the six month mark. What this essentially means is that the likelihood of someone making a life changing decision and succeeding come the new year is less than 8%.
I know that everyone is aware that quitting on a resolution is common. People crack jokes all the time about how they tried and will have better luck next year. For someone in the fitness industry, I have a love-hate relationship with the New Year’s boom. It’s great because it draws in business, however it also draws in unrealistic expectations on occasion. People come in eager and ready to get to work thinking in a couple weeks they’ll be ready for beach season. This expectation couldn’t be further from the truth. Since it’s Christmas, I’ll put it this way. Success (whether it be for health or performance) requires you to slow-cook the individual. You don’t throw them in the microwave. You take your time and produce a better product. Trying to hasten the process only leads to poor results and frustrated clients.
So how does one solve this resolution issue? What’s the solution to the resolution (I had to)? For starters, be realistic. What is New Year’s? It’s a day. That’s it. Yes, it is the first day of a new year, but it’s literally just another day. The emphasis and expectation put on it is a social thing. People take ample time off during the month of December and decide to jam-pack everything into the new year thinking it’ll be magic. In reality, you just procrastinated your whole life-changing plan onto a regular day. You go to bed and wake up to a day that felt the exact same as the day before. For those who were a little too festive on New Year’s Eve, you may not even realize what day it is!
So why do we put so much pressure and hope onto one day of the year? It’s because society wants that cushion to indulge for a long period of time and tell themselves it’s OK. They tell themselves that they’ll be back to normal and better come the new year. Can you see why this would be an issue? It’s a false sense of security. In truth, it’s even harder to get back into routine. January brings a sad reality that the holidays are over and you need to go back to work. Bills from Christmas start pouring in to make the month even more stressful. Many people become overwhelmed trying to make a drastic life change on top of the January reality check. After a week, people become discouraged and quit before they even gave their resolution a chance. They become another statistic.
My solution is this: First, don’t wait until the new year. Do not convince yourself that it’s OK to binge or go crazy for weeks on end and that January 1st will be different. Get started now. The likelihood of success is far greater by starting in December and continuing your routine into January. You’ll be miles ahead and confident enough to maintain your routine. As a bonus, the gyms are pretty empty right now so you’ll have plenty of space to get a great workout in before heading to your holiday festivities. Once you accept the fact that January 1st is just another day, you’ll realize how irrational it is to throw away your physique in hopes that it will magically appear come the new year.
Second, be extremely specific when setting your goals. I am very enthusiastic when people verbalize lofty dreams however when you ask for details they neglect to mention any. If you are set on something, make sure you lay out a plan and mini checkpoints. Start big and work backwards. Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds of fat. Why is that important to you? When did you want to achieve it by? How much time can you dedicate to training? How will you assess yourself to ensure you are on the right track? What possible challenges do you foresee? How do you plan on overcoming those challenges? These are a few questions to get you started on your goal setting. If you can’t answer these, you are probably setting yourself up for failure. It is also important to have a support system for when times get tough. Find one before the festivities get too crazy.
Now I know I sound like the Grinch, but I am not telling you to be a prude this holiday season. Of course you should relax with friends or family and have some food and drink. My advice is to not rely on a New Year’s resolution. If you want to make a change, just get started. Once you do, you will naturally start to refrain yourself from making lazy or gluttonous decisions, holiday or not. By removing that false rationale, you allow for self-control. So enjoy your holiday season and stick to your routines. If you went to the gym three times per week all November, keep at it this December. If you are waiting to start your fitness journey in January, I recommend you start today. Give yourself the best chance for success without the stress of January. Need help? Contact us. We’ll set you up with the tools you need to be one of the 8%.