I do not enjoy New Year’s resolutions. From where I’m sitting, they are awful and annoying. They bring a temporary surge of optimistic gym-goers who crowd my space just long enough to annoy me–and just when I figure out how to work around them, they’ve disappeared. I am not as cynical as I sound (well, that may not be entirely true…), but I have spent so much of my time trying to help these people that I am now very guarded about accepting New Year newcomers. By the way, if you are one of them, understand that the gym regulars may take a while to warm up to you–prove their assumptions wrong and you’ll have new friends in no time.
I do not subscribe to the idea that January 1 comes with a magical reset button. However, I do believe in setting goals and making transformations, and sometimes the new year gives us the opportunity to stop and really think about our lives. So, for those of you who will be starting, re-starting, or reaching for new levels in your fitness journeys, let’s talk about what stands between you and year-long commitment.
First of all, let me be clear: You WILL mess this up. Accept this, and you will be fine. The difference between keeping your resolution and giving up before Valentine’s Day is sticking to your plan even when you don’t feel like it and things begin to go wrong. At some point, usually before you reach the one-month mark, you will make a mistake. And it’s never for the reason you’d expect. Here are some of the silent killers—be prepared for them.
- You will run out of something. Often. No matter how perfect your meal plan is, it is impossible to be stocked perfectly with everything all of the time. This is where it becomes important to understand WHY you are eating WHAT you are eating. If your diet plan calls for almonds, you need to know that a handful of pretzels is not a good substitute. If your meal plan calls for chicken, almonds aren’t going to do it. If you’re reading this and don’t know why these are bad subs, google the term “macronutrients” and get started.
- Somebody at the gym will be mean to you, and it may make you feel so bad that you dread going and/or eventually give up. I don’t mean to scare you, but there will always be one person of the same sex who absolutely hates you. You are not crazy—she definitely hates you. It’s not your fault. Kill that bitch with kindness. Bitches hate kindness.
- All of your cute clothes are dirty. At some point you will get behind on laundry, and your “cute” pants/top/bra/socks are dirty. Buying more does not help. Trust me. I buy several pairs of the same pants, and still ONE becomes the “good pair” and the others get pushed to the back of the drawer and dragged out in priority order until laundry day. And despite the fact that all of my gym clothes match each other, there are still some tops that I swear only go with certain pants, or sports bras that can only be worn with certain tops. And then there are the priority underwear. It’s true—you can predict what kind of day it is going to be based on how far back you had to dig into your underwear drawer. Don’t let this affect your workout! Do more laundry, buy more underwear, but face it: sometimes you just have to go to the gym in your ugly stuff. Do it.
- You will try to get creative. The “healthy food” at the health foods store will begin to call your name, and the next thing you know you are adding coconut oil and agave to everything you cook. In fact, you will be inspired to bake more in general, with all of your newfound healthy ingredients. But you will fail to notice that your “healthy fats” and gluten-free products are calorically dense and contain 200 calories per teaspoon. Don’t try to be a hero–just stick to your plan for now.
- OPP. Other people’s plans. In order to be successful, you’ll have to find community with other people who are doing what you’re doing. You’ll hear about high carb diets, high fat diets, cheat meals, refeeds, carb loads, and all kinds of other approaches to dieting. In fact, right now you may be wondering what a carb load is, so let me help you: if you don’t know, it’s not on your plan. So don’t look it up and start trying to justify it. You will see these terms, read some crap about why they are great ideas, and soon you’ll be piecing together some Frankenstein version of a diet plan that will do nothing but make you fat. Stick to your plan.
Ultimately, you have to be committed to your goals. You will make mistakes, and you will have bad days. You will not always feel like working out, and pizza may be much more appetizing than chicken–the honeymoon phase will wear off, and you will have to find a way to keep going. Along the way, little things–and big things–will stand in the way of your success, and you will have to overcome them. But your progress is made and broken by what you do consistently–so if you can get past these hangups to set a new habit by February 1, you will be half way to keeping your resolution. Good luck!