Every year we do the whole “new year, new me” schpiel. We swear that we’re going to lose 30 pounds, go vegan, or start running 5K events every month. It’s not that we don’t mean it, by mid-December we’re writing down every little thing that we want to accomplish for the next year. Once February rolls around though, 80% of people have completely given up on or forgotten about their resolutions!
…That’s right, I’m talking to you.
Hard to Swallow Pill: There Are No Shortcuts
Unless you’re willing to shell out thousands of dollars for plastic surgery and take the risks that come with undergoing anesthesia, you’re not going to get instant results. Ever. Waist training, “tummy tea,” and all the other crap you see in Facebook ads and Instagram posts only serve to give you a sense of false hope. You need to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself whether or not you’re willing to put in the work.
You can absolutely transform your lifestyle, but you have to accept that real, noticeable changes take months, and sometimes up to a year to achieve. Until you can figure out how to cope with that, you’re going to be reliving the same year for the rest of your life.
Start Where You Are, Not Where You Want to Be
The quickest way for your New Year Resolution to crash and burn is to set the tone with unrealistic expectations. You’re not going to start off running a mile in 6 minutes, you’re not immediately going to bench 300 pounds, and you’re probably going to gain weight before you lose it.
This is totally normal, and to be expected. Pro-athletes may have some natural talent, but they’ve gotten to where they are through incremental strides in progress. It’s fantastic that you’re feeling pumped up and motivated to get in the best possible shape, but doing too much too quickly is how injuries happen.
While it won’t permanently stop you, straining a muscle or blowing out your joints early on in the game not only slows you down, it’s agonizingly discouraging. Progress is important, but pacing yourself and listening to your body is how you’re going to prevent injury AND burnout.
You’re Not Thinking Long Term
If you build a routine for a long enough time, you’re going to hit your goal. With that comes elation, and for some, deflation. They’ve reached their finish line and suddenly they “deserve” some time off from the gym. They “deserve” an extra cheat day, or two.
Your fitness goals should never be singular, one success should always lead to another. Your objectives need to extend across a span of several weeks, months, and years. This means that you’re not just planning to bring down your sprint time. You should be planning to run X hours or X miles per week. By the end of January your 5K time should be under 9 minutes, in February 8.5 minutes, and so on.
Keep your objectives SMART:
- Specific (What is the main target?)
- Measurable (Can the target be broken down into smaller targets?)
- Attainable (Can you hit that target as it stands, realistically?)
- Relevant (Is the target going to help you progress further?)
- Time-bound (Is there a deadline for the target?)
There should never be a time where your success makes you complacent, or failure causes you to give up. Re-assess, refocus, and rework where necessary. Your goals will have to be adjusted as your body begins to acclimate.
You’re Too Focused On Weight Loss
It’s understandable that you want to be lean, that’s why most of us start a fitness regiment to begin with. In the early stages of your transformation though, the numbers on the scale are more likely to move up than down. This is because of the extreme changes happening within your body composition.
It’s not because you’re doing a terrible job, it’s because you’re putting unexpected stress on your body. Your muscles aren’t used to working this hard, and they haven’t adjusted to the wear and tear that is required for growth.
In order to heal, fluid surrounds the area that your body perceives as “hurt” and inflammation sets in. Once acclimated, you’ll experience less soreness and less water retention. Even then, your weight will continue to fluctuate as your composition goes from being mostly fatty tissue, to lean muscle mass.
…And no, muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat. A pound of fat and a pound of muscle are exactly the same in weight, but they look very different.
Treat yourself the way you’d treat a good friend. You’d tell them not to give up, to be patient, and to keep going. Through the ups and downs of trying to change your lifestyle, you’ve got to be your own biggest supporter.