Monday, January 12, 2015

Why Your New Year's Resolutions Aren't Working

If you're like a lot of people I know, you have big, lofty aspirations for the year to come when December 31 comes around.  You're going to get fit!  Lose your gut!  Start exercising!  Eat healthier!  Lose your love handles!  "Get abs!"  Start a workplace fitness/weight loss competition, and freaking win that f@#$ker!  YEAH, BUDDY!!

The first week of your plan goes... interestingly.  You buy yourself some slightly-too-expensive-but-totally-high-tech workout gear for inspiration. You join a gym or start a home exercise program. You eat salad, and you eat more salad, and then you have a celery stick.  Everything hurts.  You're sweaty.  You're uncomfortable.  You hate this.  And while you're at it, you hate celery sticks.

The second week of your plan, you start slipping back into your old habits.  A candy bar here, a fast food run there.  You start skipping your workouts-- you'll do it tomorrow, you promise.

By week three, your life is pretty much what it was before your resolutions began, except you have more slightly-too-expensive-but-totally-high-tech workout gear than you did before.

And so the cycle continues.

So why aren't your resolutions working out?  Why do most people end up not fulfilling theirs?  Well, I have a few ideas.

1)  They are not specific.  "Get fit" is a nice thing.  But what does it even mean?  What should you be able to do if you're fit?  Run a marathon?  Deadlift your bodyweight?  Win an armwrestling contest with your kid?  Figure out exactly what you want to accomplish with your fitness goals.  Same goes for "lose weight/your gut/your love handles," "eat better," and "start exercising."  How much weight do you want to lose?  What does that translate into for inches lost, clothes size, or body fat lost (because, honestly, those numbers will tell you more than the scale will)?  What does "eat better" mean?  How, exactly, are you going to fit exercising into your schedule in a way that is manageable for you?

Which brings me to:

2)  They are not realistic.  Losing 20lb in a month, running a marathon after 2 months of training when you've never run before, and eating nothing but salad are not realistic goals, period.  That leads quite nicely into:

3)  There is no plan of action.  Now that you have a specific long-term goal, how, exactly, do you plan to achieve it?  This is where short-term goals come in.  I've mentioned this before in other posts, but it really bears repeating.  Start setting small, tangible goals that you can easily achieve in the space of 2-3 weeks that will help lead up to your goal.  So, for instance, if you want to lose, say, 15lb in 3 months, what would help you get there?  Hey, how about quitting your soda habit, or eliminating fast food?  Start with something you can manage and measure, and you will be able to see your changes better.

4)  You are uncomfortable.  Let's face it-- most people hate being uncomfortable.  And when it comes to things like weight training and endurance exercise, it's not comfortable, especially if you've never done it before, and especially if you're doing it right and lifting heavy stuff.  Period.  There are plenty of crazy people like me who love it, and there are plenty of others who catch the crazy and learn to love it.  If you hate it, chances are, you're just not going to stick with it.  So find something you love.  Dance.  Go to the trampoline park (holy cow, I love that place).  Get a buddy and take some hikes.  If you hate everything, hire a (GOOD) trainer who can hopefully teach you why lifting is awesome, and maybe you'll catch the crazy.  But do something you can stomach doing on a regular basis, or it's simply not going to work out for you.  Once you get started, you can always branch out and test your limits with other things.

5)  You think eating healthy means eating salad.  It doesn't.  I promise.  Try some healthy recipes from great bloggers like 101 Cookbooks, Sprouted Kitchen,  Oh, She Glows, Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes, or, my personal favorite, Thug Kitchen.  You'll never look at healthy eating the same way again.

6)  You aren't thinking of it as a lifestyle change.  The problem with most fitness plans is that they have an end date.  Once you hit your goal (or get tired of trying to hit your goal), you go back to your old ways.  Not only is this counterproductive, but it will tend to encourage you to try unsustainable or unhealthy things (juice fasts, anyone?) to try to get things done quickly rather than healthfully and permanently.  If you want to make a healthy change in your life, you need to be willing to commit to a healthy lifestyle for the long haul instead of yo-yoing back and forth.  Unless you're a cold-turkey kind of person, do it one step at a time, and slowly incorporate healthy habits for good.  It will be easier and more palatable, and you'll be glad you did.

Did you make any resolutions for 2015?  How's it going?  Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!


  1. Love the "Thug Kitchen".....they were out of the book for so long, I have got to look it up and see if it's back in stock!

    I'm almost 1 year "all soda free".....

    1. Nice job with the soda! I think their book might be back in stock. :)

  2. Thug Kitchen is a great resource as I move forward into a healthier lifestyle! Thank you so much for an awesome post reminding me I am not dieting, but instead, changing my life!

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