February. The shortest-looking, longest-feeling month of the year. The month after the New Year’s Resolutions. Chances are that you made a resolution way back in January. Chances are equally good that said resolution got discarded with the needle-dropping Christmas tree. The problem is that with all the “New Year New You” hype, we shoot for the stars, lost in a dreamy galaxy that in no way resembles Real Life, and we commit to change everything all at once. Then Life happens, and we get kicked in the backside by Reality.
Let’s say that in resolution 1.0 (January) we decided to work out 6 days a week, eliminate sugar, gluten and dairy from our diet. It was an all or nothing mentality. Day 1 may have been a little foggy as the body begged for sugar and we righteously refused, but we were determined. New Year, New Us. A few days later we were feeling like a million bucks. Week one complete, we’d hit all our workouts and emptied the fridge of the sugar-free rainbow of organic produce and lean proteins that we had stocked up on. Bring. It. On.
Fast forward a day/week/month … our boss asks for a few extra hours at work that interferes with the plan to get a lunchtime workout in, so we skip it. We’re also late to pick-up the kids so we hit the drive-thru in the rush to get Thing 1 to hockey and Thing 2 to dance. Finally the extracurriculars end, lunches are made and the Things are in bed. But we still have a deadline to meet, so we stay up late and give in to the call from late night Munchie Monster. We go to bed feeling crappy. The dog is sick and wakes us up to go out 4 times during the already very short night, so we wake up late, miss our morning workout and trade breakfast for an extra shot of espresso. We’ve already missed 2 workouts so we decide to take the rest of the week off, to recover from the Chaos. And since we’re not working out we might as well not bother with the healthy eating thing. And what afternoon isn’t made better by a pumpkin spice latte? And might as well add the whipped cream. And a cookie.
Okay, maybe my example here is a little extreme, but I’m willing to bet you have had your share of Real Life kicking you in the pants. You can pick any drama you like for this story … the bottom line is that the wheels can fall off with very little warning when we aim for perfection all of the time.
So what’s the alternative? We could forget it altogether, assuming that we’re doomed to fail. But that’s not going to help us feel fabulous or fierce, so it’s not really an option.
Enter Resolution 2.0. The February version. The one that has to pass the Reality test.
In order to be sustainable, changes have to be manageable. Remember that your manageable won’t necessarily look like anyone else’s. Maybe you can commit to a full nutritional overhaul and you’re ready to track every morsel you put in your mouth. If so, great! (We love food logs!) But maybe you need to start with something a little less ambitious … veggies at every meal, no sweets during the week, less coffee and more water … you get the idea. To succeed, you need to do you, every step of the way.
As for activity, you need to move your body. That’s not negotiable. But just like with nutrition, your training plan is your training plan and not anyone else’s. It needs to challenge you but not break you. You need an escape hatch built in; a chance for a re-do if you miss a workout, because let me assure you, Real Life will happen. Maybe you can commit to being in the gym 5 days a week. Maybe you’ll be lucky to get there once or twice, but you can take the stairs at work, have your FitBit remind you to get up from your desk more often and squeeze in 20 minutes of activity outside of the gym on another day or two each week. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s got to be doable, most of the time.
If you need a hand with Resolution 2.0, we’d love to see you in the studio. New clients can book a free consultation with a Personal Trainer during which you’ll work on goal setting that is both challenging and realistic – for you.
My advice in a nutshell?
Be ambitious but realistic. Fierce but smart. Tough but forgiving.
We’re here to help.
Shawna Hiley B.Sc., Ph.D., CSEP-CPT
Shawna is a Personal Trainer and fitilates Instructor at Infinite Fitness