We’ve all been there. Every year we watch the ball drop surrounded by friends and family, and suddenly the new version of you is born. You think, “this year I will be 'healthier'”, whatever that might mean to you. It’s in your head that you will transform yourself from a beginner gym-goer into workout fiend. The new habits start out strong with your newfound motivation bringing you to the gym bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, days start to pass and your off days turn into off weeks and even months. Soon you’ve realized you have lost your scan card to enter the gym and have a hard time remembering what a dumbbell is.
As the gym visits become more sparse, people often think by not sticking to their original plan, they have failed. For most, the mindset at this point is: game over, try again next year. There are few people who set a New Year’s resolution to create healthier lifestyle habits and are still consistently working on these habits by spring. Let’s figure out what could be the reason behind people giving up on their goals after the “New Year Resolution” months fizzle.
Working Out is Not Fun
It's no mystery that exercise involves a certain level of discomfort; however, part of the beauty of working out is the diversity in types of training. Take a step back and assess if you are forcing yourself into a training style that does not make you happy. It's one thing to not enjoy the moments in a workout when you’re struggling to finish the last repetition of an exercise, but to be miserable on an elliptical or going through exercise machines, is different. Vary your workout style and make note of what you specifically enjoy doing, then adapt what you do in the gym accordingly. Most importantly, make it a point to show up to the gym and keep your habit alive. Remember: there is no generic plan for developing physical fitness but it can’t develop if you do not physically show up and make the time.
It’s All About The Numbers
When we get into the habit of equating our happiness from a workout with how many pounds we lose on a scale it often leads to disappointment and negative feelings. What most people don’t realize is that it's completely natural to lose more weight initially, then to plateau which is when the weight you lose each week becomes less dramatic as your exercising habits continue. There are multiple reasons as to why lack of numerical progress on the scale is far from the end of the world and not a fair determinant of your success.
It comes down to factors that your scale cannot show you. First, the scale can’t show your fat loss and muscle replacement or gain. Each individual will lose weight or gain muscle at different rates as your body is adapting and building muscle mass which can contribute to the number you see on the scale increasing or decreasing. Second, the scale neglects body image and self esteem. People become their own personal hype man after killing a workout then step on the scale, don’t see the change they want, and feel disheartened. Instead, fall in love with the feeling you get inside after a workout because that is much infinitely more valuable than any number.
Wrong Motivating Factors
There are several phases of change when making lifestyle modifications. It's normal to struggle with keeping a commitment to yourself; however, during those times where you feel less motivated, it is important to identify the real reason why you started your fitness journey. Reflecting on what your goals are and what drives you to workout can be extremely influential in staying consistent with your New Year's resolutions and goals in general. Aim to look past the surface level goals of fat loss or toning, and find internal factors motivating you such as being healthy enough to spend time with grand-kids or improving your self image. Be forgiving of yourself if you don’t wake up determined to work out everyday. Overcome excuses and commit to accomplishing the goal you set out for at the New Year.
Overall, constantly evaluate and reflect on intrinsic factors or what drives YOU to make positive health behavior changes and a better version of yourself. There is no set plan to improve your health, but a sustainable lifestyle change comes with flexibility in your training, valuing your emotional health, and consistency in your new habits.