I am all for goal setting. Dream big and work towards those goals. But I am conflicted about New Year’s Resolutions. While any opportunity that inspires you to set new goals is a win in my book, you don’t have to wait for a new year, a new month or even new week to start improving your life. If you want something, start working towards it today. There’s no reason to wait.
The issue I have with new year’s resolutions is that they are often counterproductive. Sometimes we resolve to do what we think we should do, rather than what we want to do. Sometimes those resolutions do more harm than good. We often resolve to change our whole lives even though we’ve been making the same resolutions year and after with little to no change.
If you’ve been resolving to hit the gym, lose weight, or go on a diet year after year, I challenge you to dig deeper to make resolutions that are more meaningful and productive.
Five New Year’s Anti-Resolutions That Seem Counterintuitive But Will Get Results.
Don’t Join a Gym
Say what? I’m supposed to join a gym to get healthy, right? Well, Maybe. Join a gym if you love the gym (or if you think you’ll learn to love the gym). Don’t join a gym if you don’t like going to the gym. Don’t join a gym if you don’t know what to do once you get there. That’s unproductive.
There are plenty of ways to stay in shape without a gym membership. Join a class. Join a fitness studio. Join a running club. Subscribe to an online workout platform. Hire a coach or a trainer.
You should join a gym if you like going to the gym. Gyms are great for self-motivated people with a basic understanding of strength training, and people that work with a trainer. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it long-term (no one likes punishment). That’s a waste of time, money, and willpower. Instead, find a way to move your body to build strength and endurance in a way that you love (or can at least can tolerate). Many choices don’t include a traditional gym.
Don’t Resolve to Lose Weight
“But, Lea. I want to lose weight. Why can’t I resolve to lose weight?” You want to lose fat. Resolve to lose fat and preserve muscle. If you lose weight but also lose muscle, you set yourself up for a rebound in weight gain. If you lose muscle along with fat, you lower your metabolism. With a lower metabolism, you need to eat even less just to maintain your weight.
Lose fat by eating in a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than you burn), strength training to preserve muscle mass, and eating adequate protein.
Resolve to Make Slow Results
Rapid weight loss is a likely sign that you’re losing muscle along with fat. You may step on the scale and feel proud of an eight-pound loss in one week, but it’s unlikely it’s eight pounds of pure fat. Resolve to lose weight slowly. The slower the weight comes off, the more likely it stays off. It’s better to lose fat over six months to a year that stays off for life, then weight that comes off in six weeks, that comes back six weeks later.
Resolve to IGNORE THE scale
You don’t need it. It gives one small piece of data that doesn’t tell the whole story. If you get too attached to numbers, it can be detrimental to your long-term success. Large drops in scale weight is not always good news (if you are losing muscle) and small or no changes of scale weight is not always bad news (when you lose fat and gain muscle your scale weight may stay the same). Don’t get attached to the numbers when they can be so misleading. Judge your progress by how your clothes fit, your body measurements and how you feel and perform.
Don’t Go on a Diet
Diets don’t work long term. Yes, you can give up all the “bad” foods and lose weight, but unless you can sustain those behaviors for the rest of your life, don’t bother. What happens when the diet ends? You gain the weight back. A more sustainable approach is one of balance and moderation. You don’t have to give up all your favorite foods, reduce the intake of unhealthy foods and increase the consumption of nutrient-dense foods. If you strive to eat well most of the time, there’s always room for treats.
If you’ve made resolutions in the past that didn’t last past February, spend some time thinking about why those resolutions didn’t stick. A lot of times it is because the actions required to meet those new goals didn’t realistically fit in your lifestyle. If a restrictive diet plan, hours at the gym and unrealistic goals for rapid weight loss haven’t worked in the past, what can you try differently this year?
Instead of drastic resolutions, work to develop healthy habits that will build the foundation of a healthy lifestyle from the ground up.
Happy New Year Friends, I hope all your wildest dreams come true in 2019.
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