The New Year’s Advice You Did Not Want To Hear
And it’s right on time.
I work one-on-one with clients for their health and fitness goals, and one-on-one with athletes for their sport performance goals. It’s safe to say I’ve been doing this for a while now, and time and again, I see the same trends in fitness come and go through what seems to be a revolving door.
I’ll admit this – in the past, I, in my own small way, have at times even been part of the problem. It’s somewhat banal to do a “New Year’s article” but since 2021 is going to be over in a few days, I thought it would be good to do away with the drivel and make a plan for a pending resolutionist who thinks everything changes on the 1st of January.
Nothing will change on the 1st of January!
You may have set that convenient start date as a way to come charging out of the gates with your fitness and nutrition game on an all-time high. But statistically speaking, you’re going up against quite the formidable foe. Very few people can take on a new mindset of “hardcore gym zealot and pragmatic nutrition connoisseur” that doesn’t pitter off by February, thanks to their overly ambitious initial intensity. Your mental resolve may be strong, but donuts will still be good, your office job will still be busy, and sleeping in will still be tempting.
Before I continue, I’ll say it for the record – this blog article isn’t meant to discourage anyone from trying. While being quite the opposite, it’s meant to do something different. It should put something into perspective. The level of ‘hardcore’ to which you take your “get in shape” new year’s resolution, will create just as equal a risk for things to crash and burn as intensely as they started.
What’s better is to approach things with balance. Choosing one or two aspects of your health and fitness to make a concerted effort to improve first is a smarter approach to a sustainable lifestyle change. A simple suggestion (and often overlooked in terms of its usefulness) would be making the habit changes of getting more rest and drinking more water. Getting to bed even 1 hour earlier per night can mean a world of difference for your recovery, stress levels and energy levels. You may notice your percentage of excess body fat decrease due to lowered cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone) and improvements in the little things, like skin clarity and joint health from being properly hydrated.
Just remember – this is a start – not the end. If you want to get in shape this year, you’ll have to commit to more lifestyle changes than just water and sleep.
Your 14-day teatox is a waste of time!
For the love of everything right and good in this world, don’t jump on a trending bandwagon for the latest crash diet, cleanse, or quick-fix workout program. You’re setting yourself up for failure before you even begin by entertaining such things.
Never forget, the goal is to be healthy forever and not just for the next couple of months (and a deeper look into this would reveal that you probably wouldn’t even be temporarily healthy by doing the above anyway). Many people believe the answers come in the form of an aggressive diet or training trend that promises obscene results in a ridiculously short period of time. The truth is, each and every one of these gimcrack training and diet methods is nothing more than a band-aid solution that makes for short-term gratification, preceding a rebound effect that can cause long-term disappointment.
Today, we live in a culture that supports the notion of minimal effort, short-term highs, and getting to a destination via the fastest route of least resistance. Deep down, most of us know that trendy gimmicks with their hot-button claptrap like the above fit right into this category. We’re just tricking ourselves into thinking that it’s good for us.
You won’t get in tremendous shape by working out for 10 minutes per day. Nor by buying one golden piece of equipment from an infomercial. There’s no magic supplement that will reshape your body, and your body won’t build kilos of muscle after just one month of working out. Things don’t work that way. We’re talking about human physiology. And trust me, you’re probably not “special” either. Popular culture outlets simply can’t afford to tell people like you the truth. But that’s them.
I’ve got news for you. This fitness kick that you’ve decided to take up for 2020 is going to be difficult. It takes time, and it takes consistency. When a program offers and even delivers instantaneous results, it’s definitely one you should be wary of.
Follow the every-other-day rule.
One of the rules I like to share for the everyday person to get focused and consistent with the gym would be to simply train on alternating days. Doing a workout every other day allows for recovery time to be respected, but also creates a very easy-to-remember schedule that, as a bonus, works out to a fantastic consistency.
Instead of resolving to workout 7 days per week, set yourself up for sustainability by starting with 3 to 4 days, using this method to achieve that. Use your off days as a chance to rest, recover, and have good meals comprised of whole foods.
Set yourself up for setbacks, frustration and disappointment.
This sounds about as cynical as it can get, but hear me out. We’ve all heard some variation of the classic wise talk that basically says that true strength and resilience come from showing not how hard you can get hit, but how often you get up after and keep going.
Applying that to your newfound health interests would be one of the smartest things to implement and practice.
If we want to become fitness enthusiasts, it’s time to start by becoming fitness realists. Let me break it down for you:
If you’re over 30, you have probably dealt with some form of injury or chronic pain. The days of trying to be a hero in the gym are over and you have missed the “beast mode” train. Be smart and come to terms with that.
Even if you do everything right, most of your results won’t come during the short term. Set yourself up to expect some quick changes in the first 6 weeks, but prepare to experience a long, slow burn full of plateaus. To counter this, set your mind up to make a true “before/after” comparison of yourself at the turn of the following year. Guess what? That’ll mean you’ll have to keep at it.
Understand that sometimes, being busy with life, being sick, or simply getting into a short-term funk will get in the way of your consistency and results. Don’t lose sleep about it – it happens. Just get back on your horse as soon as you can. If your intentions are truly genuine and good, you’ll keep at this.
No glamour, no problem.
If you haven’t guessed by now, the truth about getting fit and seeing results is this… There’s no glossy lens full of wonderful, quick, easy and noticeable results. Especially not if you’re no longer a spring chicken. And if you really want this to become a part of your lifestyle that never leaves, why should there be?
Rest assured that you’re doing the right thing when you look around your gym this coming April, and realise that you’re one of the few faces that still remains from the time you signed up in January. Following the nuggets of wisdom above should help make that a reality.