4 Ways to Rock Your New Year’s Resolution Like a Boss
After ringing in the New Year with friends and family, you wake from bed ready to get on that “to-do” list and start living a better life. Your goals are to channel your chi and be a calm and positive person. Having a fit body wouldn’t hurt either. You gather your gear:
Gym bag. Check. Athletic shoes? Check. Phone ready to take a picture of your protein shake for all your friends to see on Facebook? Double check.
Here’s some info for you before you hit the gym: the odds aren’t in your favor. Don’t kill the messenger, but of the 45% of Americans that make resolutions, 80% end up failing long before the year is over (1). In fact, sport psychologists tell us that 50% of people who start a serious exercise program quit within 6 months (2). Many people get an A+ for good intentions but a failing grade for execution.
But that’s the bad news. The good news is that if you understand human behavior and how to slow things down, you can rock your New Year’s Resolution. Summer will arrive and you’ll have that beach body. Being a personal trainer means more than just developing exercise programs: it’s helping people change their habits over time. Successful clients of mine not only lose the weight but keep it off as well.
So pretend that you’re my client and you just finished your first workout. Here’s what we’re going to talk about so you can start being a stronger, fitter you:
- Pick ONE thing to work on: Take one thing you think you need to fix, and fix it. Not eight things. Not three. Just one. Maybe you start a fish oil supplement, and your goal for the week is to take 1 tablespoon every day. Or, you want to start a workout routine. Pick one day a week to exercise, and don’t miss it for anything. If you can do that for two weeks straight, add a day.When we try to perform a lifestyle overhaul overnight, we usually get burnt out. But focusing on one thing allows you to hone in, nail the habit, and appreciate the work you’re putting in. In the book The Power of Less, author Leo Babauta shows that those who focus on only one aspect of self-improvement are eight times more likely to achieve that goal. I know it sounds childish to say, but you have to think in baby steps.
- Don’t suffer from loss aversion. Loss aversion states that the negatives far outweigh the positives. If we find 20 bucks in the dryer we might smile, but our best friend stiffing us with their 20 dollar latte bill really fires us up. I see this all the time: losing a pound on the scale is no big deal. But a client gaining a pound seems like the Earth just stopped spinning. If you’re honestly trying 100% to reach your resolution, than you’ll have plenty more success stories than setbacks. Take things slow and realize that when you do have a small failure.
- Learn to attribute. Sport psychologists state that we need to understand why we fail and succeed at things (3). In plain English, this means that we have to establish cause, control, and the stability of each situation we encounter. Missing two weeks of workouts because you got sick doesn’t mean you’re a loser; after all, it’s not a stable condition, unless you plan on being sick for the rest of your life. It’s also out of your control. You couldn’t check the temperature of all the kids at your child’s birthday party, could you? Of course not. But one decided to show up and get make everyone ill. So you can’t blame yourself.
This goes two ways too. If you lost five pounds from doing your intervals, you were the direct cause of that, not dumb luck.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. I once was teaching a client how to perform a snatch (it’s an Olympic lift where you take a barbell and launch it in the air while landing “underneath it”…..I must say, it’s a ton of fun and cool looking). She was really into training and loved testing herself. But she couldn’t get this move. She actually fell one time. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt. But what impressed me was the fact that she laughed. It wasn’t a nervous laugh, but a genuine laugh. There she was, sitting on the floor where she took a tumble and she was cracking herself up. Needless to say, she dusted herself off and ending up snatching almost 100 pounds by the end of her training. The lesson here is that change usually makes us uncomfortable, but not taking everything thrown at us as life or death can go a long way to taking the pressure off yourself.
While an article full of “eat this, not that” may have been what you were expecting, I’d argue that these four things are the most important. Master these and you’ll be on your way to rocking your New Year’s Resolution. Then we can talk about protein and intervals.
1. Journal of Clinical Psychology (2014)
2. Wilson, K. Brookfield, D. “Effect of Goal Setting on Motivation and Adherence in a Six Week Exercise Program.” (2009) International Journal of Sport and Exercise Physiology. 6, 89-100
3. Williams, Jean M. ed. Applied Sport Psychology: Personal Growth to Peak Performance. 6th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2010. pp 122