We love new beginnings. Fresh starts. Another chance to get it right. With another new year approaching, it’s resolution time! Because most of us are overweight and underactive, changes to fitness and nutrition habits are very popular resolutions to make. Unfortunately they are also very popular ones to break.
If “lose weight and get fit” is going to be your resolution this year, I have a request for you: Please reconsider. No, I haven’t gone to the dark side. I still believe exercise and healthy eating is the best gift we can each give to ourselves. But I also believe that well-intentioned promises with a very slim chance at success are a bad idea, and that’s what “lose weight and get fit” is. In fact it tops last year’s Time Magazine’s top ten list of broken resolutions. Eat healthier and diet makes it in at number 4.
For anyone who is thinking of lose weight, eat healthy or exercise more as a resolution this year: is it your first time? Or does this resolution get dusted off every year or two? If it’s not your first time, what is different this year? My goal here is not to make you feel bad about your self-improvement goals. In fact I applaud them! So much so that I want you to succeed. But an overhaul of your eating and exercise habits is a big change. The reality is that big change is hard. Little changes, however, are manageable.
Whatever you are considering as a resolution, instead of saying: “On January 1st, I will eat well and exercise regularly”; say this instead: “On January 1st, I will eat well and exercise regularly, and continue to do so for the rest of my life”. Now be honest: Can you even say the words? If not, that’s a powerful sign. Are you feeling doubt? Starting to think about foods you love that you’re not sure you’re willing to give up? That’s okay. In fact it’s quite normal. It’s very important that you be honest with yourself now, as that will pave your path to success later.
Now, let’s reconsider the “eat well and exercise” as a new year’s resolution.
If you are very confident that you can do it and sustain it, then go for it! You probably will succeed. If not, break it down! Pick something small but achievable. For some reason we have a “go big or go home” attitude about new year’s resolutions, which unfortunately lead to going big and then going home.
Here’s the thing:
- A small resolution that you do for a long time becomes a big change.
- A big resolution that you do for a short time becomes no change.
If you resolve to have dessert half as often, and you stick to it all year, it will be equivalent to having quit dessert entirely for 6 months. If you resolve to give up dessert entirely, do you think you will make it until the end of June? There are some people who can say “I’m going to stop eating junk food now” and they just stop forever without problems. Odds are, that person is not you. If this is not your first “eat well and exercise” resolution, then that person is definitely not you. Accept that and work with it.
Whatever you chose as a resolution, say it out loud and add “and I will do this all year. If you can’t say it out loud, you definitely can’t do it. Break it down until you have a resolution that you can say with confidence that you will sustain all year.
Don’t be among the 99% who make big resolutions that are lost before March.
Be the 1% who makes a small resolution and turns it into a big change.
Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer who focuses on achievable fitness and health. If you want some help with that achievable approach, or with finding the right small changes for you, consider her Get Lean program. It’s a 8 week online program that runs a few times per year. Click the link above for more details and to register.