Happy New Year from the team at Body Helix! You’ve likely been bombarded recently with commercials and social media posts encouraging you to join the fitness bandwagon in the new year. Whether it’s a local gym advertisement or a blog post about healthy recipes - you have gotten the message: “New Year, New You!”
Probably, like most of us, you know that these new year’s resolutions to “go to the gym four days a week” or to “cut back on carbs” are often short-lived. The reason is simple: most of the time, our resolutions focus around the physical changes we want to see within ourselves. This year, I want to challenge you to a new kind of new year’s resolution – one that focuses on the mental changes you want to see instead. If you can make this simple transition, all of the physical changes are sure to come. Here are 4 you can focus on:
1. Thoughtful Decision Making
Let’s focus first on decisions. We make decisions all the time and pay little thought to the decision-making process. Bigger decisions, like a change in your fitness regime, require analysis and projections about consequences. Our biggest decisions affect the direction of our lives.
Unfortunately, for many of us, though, the decision to exercise does not make it to the level of importance that merits thoughtful analysis and assessment of benefit. In other words, we often make a new year’s resolution, wake up on January 1st and decide “Today is the day that things are going to be different.” However, it’s not always that easy, which is why we sometimes fail.
Consider making your first step in the exercise process centered around actually deciding whether or not you truly want to exercise. Do you like to exercise? If so, what activity provides you enjoyment, yet also gives you the benefit of being active? Do you like the way you feel after you have exercised? Do you have any injuries or other health concerns to consider before you jump right in? If you have given a lot of thought to these questions, then you are one step closer to a successful resolution.
2. Do Something You Enjoy
Keep in mind when answering the questions above that the decision to exercise is not necessarily the decision to run a marathon! Don’t exclude a much more enjoyable exercise that you possibly haven’t considered before. Exercising doesn’t have to mean forcing yourself to go on a run or to go to the gym to lift weights. After 40 years in the practice of internal medicine, one thing I learned about patients who exercise regularly is that they all do something they enjoy. This is key. If you design an exercise program that you simply do not enjoy, then you won’t do it. But, if you find an exercise or sport that brings you joy - you are much more likely to stick with it. Anything counts from chair aerobics to training for a triathlon and everything in between.
3. Realistic Expectations and Planning
Next, you will also have to decide how much exercise you will do. Are you going to commit to it daily or three times per week? Will you work out at 7:00 a.m. before work, after work, or every chance you get? You should thoughtfully analyze the realistic timeframe you can commit to this new plan of action. Believe me, you will be more likely to keep at it, because you have a plan. Remember to account for the times when life throws you a curveball (working late or when family and recreation conflict with your exercise schedule). Make the conscious decision ahead of time for what you will do when these unexpected situations arise. Will you make-up what you missed or forego it all together? Answering this ahead of time will also help you feel better about missed sessions and get back on track faster.
4. Motivated for Success
The next major decision deals with self-motivation: how do you motivate yourself? To answer this, draw from your own experiences (whether exercise related or not) in the past. What has successfully motivated you before? Competition, success, conditioning, fitness, appearance, health, money, shopping? Whatever your answer is, plug into what has worked and go back to it. If you cannot easily find something that has motivated you, it’s possible that you have not fully analyzed all of your past behaviors that led you to get something you really wanted. Everyone has something that motivates them. You just might need to spend a little more time figuring out what motivates you. Once you hone in on it, though, I promise you will see results.
In summary, consider the following mental approach to your news year’s resolutions this year:
- Take the time to give thought and analysis to if you actually do, in fact, want to exercise.
- Consider what types of activities you enjoy the most. It’s okay to think outside the box. As long as you are moving, you will be closer to your goals.
- Set realistic expectations of when you can exercise and how often. Plan ahead for the times when life gets in the way and you can’t meet your goals.
- Think through what motivates you in all aspects of your life. Then, apply that same motivation toward your exercise resolutions.
If you apply these mental considerations to your new year’s resolutions, you might just find that 2019 is the year you finally keep resolutions after all!