By this time of year, it’s been a long time since the well-intentioned New Year’s Resolutions have fallen by the wayside for most of us. Younger folks are traditionally better at keeping them than those over fifty. In fact, those of us who are going gray make fewer, perhaps out of long, hard experience (all those unused gym memberships, anyone?).
For example, the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that half of us who start a workout program will just quit within the first six months. If you watch the activity at my local 24 Hour Fitness, that’s more like three months or less. The January crush is almost always thinned out by mid-February. For those who did it because of an inner drill sergeant rather than a genuine affection for gym classes or pumping iron, just the decision to join causes what’s called “decision fatigue.” The idea of going is exhausting, as is being around people who are in far better shape than we are. Or so we imagine.
Well so what if they are? Whether folks out walking, riding their bikes, sweating it out on a sidewalk or at a gym are indeed slimmer than we, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about them, it’s about us.
The two top resolutions made every January are to lose weight and start exercising. The challenge, however, is that we don’t always embark on a journey that is both enjoyable and reasonable. If I dread the alarm’s ring because it spells out morning pain, I will whack it against the wall.
Even one of my favorite sports chiropractors, a huge athlete of a man named Mike Valente, now in his fifties, admits that he doesn’t always enjoy putting himself through his paces.
“But I’m always glad I did,” he grins. And so are we all. The feeling of the endorphin high and the pride of accomplishment are terrific. Those are part of what keeps us on the path.
The problem with the word “workout” is word “work.”
When we can look forward to moving and feeding our bodies as acts of joy and pleasure, it changes the conversation.
If we have allowed ourselves to slip and now we’ve got work to do, fine. We begin where we are. Kindness and patience with the body, and the long slow slog back to health, are far more important than the hard core demand to drop weight overnight or produce uber muscles, which isn’t likely anyway in most cases.
If by taking time out of the day for a “funout” to walk or stretch or do yoga, to explore how the body feels as it strengthens and slims gently over time becomes a journey, then we can look forward to it.
It’s a lot easier to maintain any kind of new habit if the word fun is involved.
If you made those classic resolutions this past January and they didn’t exactly pan out, you’re in good company. However, you still have half the year to regroup. The point is, your body, and you, are worth getting to know. And taking care of with respect.
New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to start on January 1st. They start every single morning when we wake up, and decide whether to move or sit, the yogurt or the donut.
Let’s change the conversation, and by doing so, change the results.