Ah, yes. It’s that time of year again. It’s the time of year when the realization that you didn’t stick to your New Year’s resolution of getting in shape smacks you across the face. And like the Kardashians’ reality show being renewed for another season, you ask yourself, “Why?”
Why can’t you stick to going to the gym? Why can’t you stick to some semblance of a healthy diet? And why do they keep renewing the “Jersey Shore” reality show? Okay, enough of the reality show jokes… for now.
Tell me if this is you. Halloween comes around and you start in on the candy. Then there’s Thanksgiving and you can’t eat enough stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pie. And, of course, there are all those holiday parties ripe with cookies and cakes. When will it all stop?! You convince yourself it will stop after New Year’s Eve. Then on New Year’s Day you’ll be on lockdown. Besides, you’re only going to have 2–3 dozen crab rangoons on New Year’s Eve.
What is the answer to overcoming these New Year’s resolutions fails? How can you ensure you are still working toward your health and fitness goals on Valentine’s Day and into the summer, long after that New Year’s resolution shine has dulled?
Healthy habit development. To the core of my bones, I believe this to be the solution. While establishing your health and fitness outcomes is important, establishing the necessary healthy habits to achieve those outcomes is vastly more important.
After you’ve decided what it is you want to achieve with your health and fitness goals, you then must spend time considering what it will take to achieve those goals. How many times per week should you work out? What type of workouts should you do? What type of diet would be best?
Once you’ve established the appropriate workout and diet that is conducive to achieving your health and fitness goals, it is important to develop a game plan of how all that will be put together.
It is important to identify the actions you must take on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to consistently progress you toward your health and fitness goals. The two most important words in that last sentence are “consistently progress.” “Consistency” does not mean perfection. And there is the rub. Every new year, we tell ourselves this is going to be the year. We’re going to finally achieve our health and fitness goals!! Yet, by Valentine’s Day every single year, we quit and are left with a sour taste in our mouth… again!! We tell ourselves we’ll start over on Monday. Or at the beginning of next month. Or we’ll start over and be perfect on our birthday. When we figure out we cannot and will not be perfect at anything we do in life, especially our health and fitness journey, it opens up a plethora of opportunities. It was Churchill who said, “Perfection can also be spelled ‘paralysis.’”
I’ve started a new practice where I start thinking about my personal, professional, and health and fitness goals on October 1. I reflect on what successes I had that year and what goals I achieved. What did I do well and consistently that allowed me to achieve those goals? I think about the challenges I overcame. Did I consistently have scheduling conflicts that made it difficult to get in my workouts and what adjustments did I make in the process to ensure I got my workouts done? I think about what I learned. Did I discover I do better working out first thing in the morning or in the middle of the day? Was I less stressed when I cooked in bulk on Sundays so I wasn’t bogged down with meal prep during the busy week?
Then I begin ruminating about what I want to achieve the next year in all those areas. By the time I get through Thanksgiving, I’m pretty much set mentally on what I want to achieve next year, but I still ponder it all for another couple weeks. I want to ensure I cover all bases. I finally set my goals in stone by the middle of December and begin working toward the achievement of them immediately! That’s different, huh? I don’t wait until January 1st. I don’t give myself the rest of the December to go crazy on chips and reruns of “The Bachelor.” (Okay, that’s my last one, I promise.)
The reason for doing this is that we are never more motivated than we are on New Year’s Day, right? What if I’m already two weeks in, working toward next year’s goals by the time the ball drops in Times Square?! At that point, I already have some solid momentum going, I’m seeing some positive results, and I’m bolstering my resolve to keep working toward achieving my goals.
Now, I realize it’s not that easy. I find the achievement of goals to be more mental than anything. Especially as it relates to our health and fitness. This leads me to the meat and potatoes of the message I want to convey.
The glory is not in the achievement of any one goal—it’s in the journey toward the achievement of that goal. This is especially true when it comes to your health and fitness goals. If you want to ensure you are still getting to the gym consistently each week, you’re meal prepping ahead of time, and you generally feel good about life, I cannot stress enough the importance of spending most of your time on the development of the lifestyle that is conducive to you as an individual and the achievement of your health and fitness goals.
By putting your mental energies into achieving those daily, weekly, and monthly actions that will ultimately allow you to achieve the long-term outcome your desire, amazingly, you will find you are no longer a passenger on the yoyo weight-loss/weight-gain train. You will find that you not only achieve those health and fitness goals that have long eluded you, but you will also be able to sustain them for the rest of your life.