It’s that super weird week between Christmas and New Year.
Your house is still laden with leftovers and twinkle lights but your mind feels the need to plan for the next year ahead. And your mind has a terrible tendency to be a ridiculous over-achiever. You know, as you munch on sweet Christmas goodies on the couch, you simultaneously consider running a marathon in 2019 or committing to that gluten-free diet you swore you would try.
Well, let me be the voice of reason. DO NOT set yourself up for failure in the New Year. I am all for positive changes and healthy habits but those take commitment and planning to achieve. You will NEVER feel more confident about yourself in 2019 if you create a long list of impossible-to-achieve resolutions. You MUST start where you ARE.
I like to use the analogy of running that marathon. I was the freak who signed up for one of those death marches after the birth of my first baby way back in 2003. I just knew it would be the best way to get back to my pre-preggo weight (in hindsight, I had no idea it would mean 20-25 hours/week of training runs but alas, I did cross that finish line. Just the one. I’m a been there, done that, got the T-shirt marathon girl). Anyway, I had a running coach who introduced himself and then asked me a great opening question.
HOW FAR CAN YOU RUN TODAY? I had only run one 5K and one 10K in the past few months so I said 6 miles was the longest my body could physically handle. In his wise coaching voice, he said “OK, looks like we know where to start from.” Then he designed a program for me that would gradually increase my distance by about 10% each week and I’d be marathon-ready in 19 weeks.
Did you read that? He did NOT write out a tedious plan of how I’d be running 26.2 miles the FIRST DAY. HECK NO! I was not ready for that level of training. He was realistic and took stock of my current physical shape. That first week, I only ran 2 or 3 miles most days and 5 miles on Saturday. That was achievable for my current my level of training and helped me feel accomplished and capable. Then, Week Two, we increased it to 3 mile runs with a 5.5 mile weekend run. Little by little, my mileage increased and my body adapted. But we had to START where I was.
So, why do so many people look at New Year’s resolutions and think they can drastically change their lifestyle on day one? I truly believe goals like- no sugar in 2019, run everyday in 2019, keep a spotless kitchen in 2019, go to the gym everyday in 2019– are the equivalents of running the full marathon on day one. YOU CANNOT SUSTAIN THOSE GOALS. You just aren’t ready.
I think the best place to start is where you honestly are. Let’s look at fitness for example. Which category do you fit into?
- This body hasn’t been to “the gym” in so long, I feel the need to call it “The James”But seriously, you might not even own gym clothes that fit you. And that is OK! One year ago, I was 35 pounds overweight and very timid about going to a gym. My sports bras felt like torture devices (since I purchased them when I was 35 pounds lighter!) and my pants were so snug that one too many lunges might have split them right down the middle! If I had set a goal to go to the gym every day, I would have failed. I was too self-conscious about my weight, my bad workout attire, etc. that I knew I wouldn’t go consistently. So, my goal was to start doing a few home workouts….wait for it…..that did not even require a bra! I eased myself back in to working out very slowly. I started with 10-15 minute home workouts I could do in my pajamas. Not even kidding. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could get started. And I did. This goal was achievable. And 2 or 3 weeks later, I got up the nerve to put a sports bra on and try something more strenuous. BABY STEPS. Even for the TaTas.
- I can’t find time to workout. The truth is, we all have the very same amount of hours in the day. And, as a Mom, if your kiddo suddenly needed 1 hour of breathing treatments at home every night, you would rearrange everything on your calendar to make it happen. YOU KNOW YOU WOULD. So, when will you realize that your own health deserves that same level of importance? It matters. You matter to your husband, kids, friends, family, co-workers….and you need to be healthy to show us as the best version of you. I am a firm believer that NO ONE needs you from 5-6:00 a.m. most days (unless you have a newborn). I know just reading that statement made you yawn BUT, if that is the only time when you could carve out workout time in your home, you need to make THAT your goal. It will take time. That first week, I’d suggest just setting the alarm, getting up and drinking a cup of coffee at 5:00 a.m. THAT IS ENOUGH. You are training your brain to learn this new routine. Week Two, set that alarm, get up, drink coffee and put on workout clothes. BOOM. You are improving. Week Three, set that alarm, get up, drink coffee, put on workout clothes and move your body for 10 minutes (see no-bra workout recommendations from above!). Do you see where I am going here? Don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking that on January 2 you will miraculously spring out of bed at 5:00 a.m. and kill a P90X routine. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Let’s start by retraining your brain and learning new routines first. Slow and steady wins the race.
- I can’t afford a gym membership. I feel you! After Christmas, the wallet is a bit empty so joining a gym might not be possible. There are LOADS of at-home, FREE workouts online. Many don’t require any equipment (Fitness Blender has tons HERE). Maybe you should begin just walking 10 minutes a day for the first week. Then go up to 15 minutes on Week 2. Do you see where I am going with this? START WHERE YOU ARE. There is no magic pill at the gym to get you fit. Plenty of folks incorporate fitness into their lives and never step foot in a gym. I lost 22 pounds this year solely from at home workouts and walking/running in my neighborhood. It is possible!
- I can’t find the motivation. Me neither, honey! I’ve been committed to fitness again for a solid calendar year and the very same negative voices play in my mind today that did on Day One. “Ugh, wouldn’t you rather sleep a little later? You can just do it tomorrow. Putting on that workout gear seems hard. If you sweat, you’ll have to wash your hair and that takes forever. Skipping just one day won’t make a difference.” EVERY SINGLE DAY. Excuses can always find you. Working out is still a choice every time I do it. BUT, I gave up that old mindset about waiting to workout when I felt motivated. It’s like saying “I’ll clean my bathroom when I feel motivated. I’ll empty that dishwasher when I feel motivated. I’ll iron those clothes when I feel motivated.” Ummm…..I never EVER feel motivated to do those things. But, it has to be done and if it is on my to-do-list, I just do it regardless of what I “feel” like. And the best part is that midway through any workout, I feel motivation rising within me. By the end of the workout, those endorphins kick in and I AM MOTIVATED to have a great day. I worked out first and motivation eventually followed. Do you see what I mean? JUST. PRESS. PLAY. Even if it is just for 10 minutes a day at first, just show up! Make exercise a part of your daily life and do it REGARDLESS of the million excuses that will pop into your mind. YOU MATTER more than your excuses.
- It doesn’t seem like enough. Oh, I know this pattern well. The ol’ perfectionist in you thinks that if you aren’t sweating enough to create your own kiddie pool of self-induced saline, then it isn’t worth doing at all. THIS IS WHY RESOLUTIONS FAIL!!! People set themselves up with an all-or-nothing attitude and as soon as they skip one workout or eat one cheat meal, they quit ALL OF IT. I hate to tell you but the people I know who are making progress with health/fitness are not the people who do it all perfectly. It’s actually the opposite. The people who succeed are the ones who are willing to FAIL THE MOST and just keep trying again. They ate too much at Christmas too but they are back to their routines the next day. They drank too much wine too but they put in a 5 mile walk the next day anyway. If you are going to be successful in 2019 with health/fitness, you have to check your “it doesn’t seem like enough” attitude at the door. MOVE MORE and EAT LESS are all you need to know to lose weight. Move is a verb that includes walking, running, Crossfit, dancing, skating and a million other activities. It all counts!!! Eat less means eat less than you do now. If you are currently binge eating an entire gallon of ice cream from 8-9 p.m. every night on the couch, eating a half a gallon each night for the next week STILL COUNTS as eating less. START WHERE YOU ARE!
Look, I have been every girl on the fitness scale. I’ve been 6 pack abs girls in my 30s and I’ve also been “not ready to put a sports bra on” girl in my 40s. But, I saw more progress in 2019 than any other year because I met myself where I was and vowed to get up more times than I failed.
Are you ready to set REALISTIC goals for 2019? Good. But start by truly evaluating WHERE YOU ARE.
Then, we can put together an achievable, sustainable game plan. (check back tomorrow!)
I’ll be the first to cheer you on!