With 2016 right around the corner, you may have started thinking about your New Year Resolutions already. And if you haven’t, you might have started indulging in a few extra holiday treats by now–thinking to yourself that “January is a new month, a new year.”
While I’m not saying this mentality is necessarily the best one to have, I do know what it’s like to crave a Christmas cookie or two and because of all the mistakes I’ve made with “trying to get fit” throughout my life, I also know what it’s like to say “screw it, I’ll start fresh in January.”
So let’s talk about January.
I’m not going to give you a lecture on the holiday mentality you “should” have. I believe you should enjoy yourself, your family, your friends this holiday season and I also believe you should get a few good workouts in while you do. I also know that this is a busy time of year, we sometimes have to miss a workout or we may eat a few too many cookies. You may be traveling (I’m traveling a lot) and you may want to spend more time with your kiddos than your kettlebell. I get it. We’re all human here.
When January rolls around there are two things I want you to forget about:
- The guilt you might cling to when thinking back about any holiday indulgence.
- The whole “new year resolution-making” crap.
How many times have you made a resolution that you stuck to for an entire year? Most people just set themselves up for disaster when trying to swear to a year of perfection. Instead? Why not set reasonable goals?
As you are thinking about your goals for 2016, I know that you’re thinking a lot about your health because you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t. And I want to share with you another lesson that I’ve learned in my journey of both goal setting, and resolution making, as it relates to my life of health and fitness.
I’ve learned two really big lessons along the years.
- Unrealistic resolutions never work.
- You don’t have to exercise every day in order to be in good shape.
Let’s look at number one.
I’m not going to spend a long time here; I just want you to know that if you make some obscene, unrealistic goal for 2016, your chances of sticking to it are slim. I don’t say this because I’m trying to challenge someone or say that none of us possess enough will power to forego desserts for a whole year (I’ve tried this without success), I just want you to be realistic and not so darned tough on yourself this year.
It’s been a long road for me–starting with the body I loathed several years ago, and trying to move towards loving the body I have now and being proud of my accomplishments. It’s a much bigger mental project than most people know, and those constant years of “THIS is the new year, the new me, the year without dessert, the year of perfect training, the year of 100% clean eating, the year I will be the fittest ever”….drain you. They drained me. These are the expectations that bring you down and make you feel worse about yourself in the long run. Let me tell you, it’s much harder to lose a self-esteem issue than it is to drop a few pounds.
I started my journey all those years ago because I wanted to get fitter. Healthier. Stronger. I didn’t realize that constant, unrealistic goal setting could make my mental health worse. So that’s rule number one. Keep your spirits high in 2016 by setting a realistic goal that allows for you to be human and continue to love yourself even when you have setbacks. Stop the loathing, start the loving.
And just so we’re clear…
Don’t obsess over perfection but don’t slack on hard work either. — Stephanie (editor’s insert)
If your reasonable goal is to lose 20 pounds this year, you should make sure you work out 3-5 times per week, allow yourself a treat when you need one, and don’t be so hard on yourself if you lose 15 instead of 20 or heck, even if you just have a bad week every so often. Appreciate the journey is what I’m saying.
And now the awesome lesson: Number Two.
Perhaps the most incredible lesson I’ve learned about fitness in general has taken me the longest to realize: I don’t have to go to the gym every single day in order to be strong and fit.
Huh? But…all that stuff on Instagram…
Ha, yes. It’s true. You don’t have to workout every single day. You don’t have to become obsessed with the gym in order to become fitter and healthier.
Most people are going to make a resolution to get into the gym and exercise an hour a day. Seems reasonable, right? It is! Until you become obsessive about your behavior. Your body adapts to everything, you know. If you work out five days a week, you’ll need six or seven to start seeing a difference after a while. You’ll have to change your routine, work harder, try new things in order to see new or better results.
Is this a bad thing?
No. But it could potentially lead to overuse injuries, frustration, and guess what else? It could even lead to weight gain.
A lot of people who throw themselves into a new gym routine don’t understand–or even know how–to take rest days, de-load weeks, or train less to burn more. Many people start working out five days a week for 30-45 minutes. They up that to 6 days, 45-60 minutes. Over time this leads to 90 minute trainings, twice a day trainings, cutting carbs, upping protein shakes, muscle aches, overtraining, insulin sensitivity, and more frustration you had than when you started. This type of stress isn’t good for anyone!
Now I’m not talking about professional athletes or those training for competitive performance. I’m talking about the average Joe or Jane here. Those who have goals of living a healthier, stronger, fitter life–who don’t want to overly complicate anything. Who just want to become fitter and happier.
So don’t become obsessive about your behavior this 2016–whether that’s food or exercise. Hit the gym 3-5 times a week–depending on what fits your schedule. Have fun with your training. Lift heavy weights. Run fast–really fast. Play basketball, go rock climbing, take your dogs on a long walk with the family. Eat good foods that are found local, cooked fresh.
And on Christmas day? Enjoy a cookie or two, without guilt, shame, or sadness.
Make 2016 truly your best year yet by setting realistic goals and without holding yourself to extreme expectations. You can do anything you set your mind to…so why not treat both your mind and body the way it deserves with a little extra love and understanding?
This week’s Strong Figure Conditioning Workouts: