I wish I could bottle the enthusiasm, hope, and optimism that is abundant around the new year because I would sell it back the third week of January and become filthy rich.
At the end of December and beginning of January, my social media feed is full of hope, aspirations, bold ambitions, and wild desires. 2019 is going to be your year!
Then something happens over the next several weeks, it’s called life, and a reality check hits you hard.
You resolved to hit the gym six days a week, but your kid got sick that first week and your boss asked you to stay late three days the next. The roads iced over. You got a flat tire. After two weeks you made it to the gym a total of three times. Maybe that monthly gym fee isn’t worth it.
You decide to try Whole 30 in January, but you had last-minute travel for work, your kitchen flooded, and you got sick. You already “blew it” so you’re drowning your disappointment in a pint of ice cream by the end of the second week.
You were planning to save money and pay off debt, but your car broke down, and you got hit with an unexpected tax bill. You already spent so much, what’s a little more? A small shopping spree makes you feel better.
Me? I swore I was going to spend less time scrolling social media on my phone. I read my new book for a few nights the first week but quickly slipped back into old habits. It was too dark to read on my couch and the battery died on my book light. Damn you Facebook.
By the third week of January, a lot of us end up falling back into old patterns while those New Year’s resolutions and big dreams slowly slip away. Oh well, there’s always next year.
Not so fast.
DON’T BE NORMAL
The third week of January slump is normal. It happens to the best of us. It’s also normal to give up and revert to old habits. Let’s not be normal. Here’s how to get over the New Year’s Resolution slump to continue to chase your health and fitness goals all your long, even if you feel like you already massively screwed up.
START OVER NOW
Don’t start over on the first of the month, or next Monday, or tomorrow. Start over now. Yep, right in the middle of the damn day. Weird, right? We don’t have to wait to start over. It doesn’t matter how often you get off track, but how quickly you get back on.
Thoughts like, “I already screwed up, I might as well keep messing up” is just rationalization for bad behavior. Making one bad choice and getting immediately back on track is always better than making a whole day, a whole weekend or an entire week’s worth of poor decisions because you need it to be Monday to try again.
If you’ve fallen off track, don’t give up now, we’re just getting started.
ALIGN YOUR GOALS WITH YOUR LIFESTYLE
I saw this in my Facebook feed from a talented local photographer, Courtney Hale. “I would make a New Year’s resolution, but I’ll still have kids in 2019 so…”
She’s making a joke, of course, but Courtney is a realist. She knows making resolutions that don’t align with her lifestyle are futile. She’s 100% correct. So how we can stick to our resolutions even when we have obstacles (aka a life)?
If you try to overhaul your whole life in a couple of days without any regard for the realities of your lifestyle you will inevitably fail. To stick to your resolutions, you need to make sure the daily actions necessary to reach your goal are achievable in your daily life.
Reevaluate your resolutions. Were they too much too soon? Were the actions you needed to take unrealistic in your daily life?
If you’re not a morning person, don’t attempt to go against your nature with a 5 am alarm. Plan your workouts for the evening, or gradually start to get up earlier in 15-minute increments.
If getting to the gym isn’t possible on a regular basis, plan an at-home workout, whether it’s a run, an app, a streaming service, or a workout from the internet. Consistently doing a 15-minute workout at home is better than always missing an hour workout because you don’t have time.
If you haven’t been to the gym since last year’s Super Bowl, don’t attempt to go six days a week the first week. Start smaller.
If you don’t have time (or don’t know how) to cook, stop wasting money on groceries that will only go bad. Try meal-prepping on the weekends, a healthy meal delivery system or healthier convenience foods, like rotisserie chicken and microwavable steamed vegetables (remember, we’re not aiming for perfect but better than before).
If you have young kids, accept that goldfish and coffee is a part of your reality, start looking for ways to make small improvements, like stocking up on healthier, but easy to access snacks, like pistachios, string cheese, cherry tomatoes, grapes, or carrot sticks.
Reevaluate those new year resolutions and scale them to the realities of your life. Starting small is ok. In fact, it’s best to start small and build as you go. Baby steps snowball into significant results over time.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Life is always to go to get in the way. Always. Expect it. Plan on it. Deal with it. Forget perfection. 100% adherence is unrealistic. Give yourself a buffer. Do the best you can with what is reasonably available at the moment.
Perfection is the enemy of progress. Allow yourself the grace to make mistakes, miss a workout, eat an unhealthy meal, then move on. Mercedes Benz has a slogan, “The best or nothing.” I disagree Mercedez - less than the best is always better than nothing. (But if you want to send me a free car, I’ll re-evaluate my opinion. Kidding!)
Has life already thrown you for a loop? Great. What did you learn from it? How can you plan for something similar in the future? Something will go wrong again, I promise.
AIM FOR A LITTLE BETTER
It’s easier to advance when you start small and then evaluate each choice with “How can I make this a little better?”
It’s not realistic to go from 0% adherence to 100% adherence; Rather try to improve by 1% each week. If you are serious about changing your lifestyle, then slow and progressive change is the best path to success. If may take longer than a 30-day 30 lb weight loss challenge, but it’s more sane and sustainable., and unlike extreme weight loss, the results are more likely to be permanent.
Workout for 15 minutes a day for a few weeks, then increase it to 25 minutes, maybe after a few months to 45 minutes.
Start improving your eating habits with one meal at a time. Plan to eat a healthy dinner with a protein, healthy carb, and healthy fat in proper portions most nights of the week. Once it becomes a habit to eat that healthy dinner, start working on improving your lunch meal., then eventually your breakfast. You don’t have to change everything all at once to see results.
A lot of people fall off track around the third week because they are not seeing the drastic results they were expecting. “I’ve been eating healthy and working out for three weeks, and I only lost three pounds!?!” What’s the point?
The point is if you were eating junk food not exercising, you might have gained three pounds in that same period. Slow results are still results.
The reality of how hard it can be to stick to new lifestyle choices sink in. You’ve been working hard but not seeing the results yet? Hang in there. These things take time. Trust the process. Long before you can see results on the outside, your new healthy habits are positively influencing your overall health.
FOCUS ON NON-SCALE VICTORIES
How you measure your results can a have a big impact on how you feel about your progress. If you step on a scale as your only measure of success, you’ll probably have a frustrating ride.
But if you measure by how well you feel, how well you sleep, how your clothes fit, and body measurements, the transition to a healthier lifestyle can be a satisfying one. It’s not all about how you look, consider improvements to your outside appearance a bonus. Focus on improving your health first.
KEEP SHOWING UP
Keep showing up. No matter how many times you slip up. No matter how hard it feels, never give up. As long as keep showing up all your goals can be achieved.
Ready to get back on track? We’re just getting started. Hang in there friends; we got this.
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