New Year’s Revolution
It’s that time again… New Year’s Resolution season is upon us. Many of you have made resolutions, and most of those revolve around diet and exercise. However, statistically speaking, less than half of those who make a resolution will stick to it past the six month mark. That means by June and most likely before, your resolve will have fallen by the wayside and you’ll have slipped back into old habits. But why? And what’s the difference between those who succeed at making long term changes and those of you who’ll be riding the New Year’s Resolution train again next year?
Well first and foremost, change is hard. It’s scary to venture out of your comfort zone when it’s something you’re excited about, much less when that initial excitement fades. A new diet and exercise regime require a serious change in your personal routine, and it’s worth examining why you’ve developed your particular routine in the first place. Most people’s lives revolve around getting as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time, often with the least amount of effort. You have so much on your plate… you’re tired and overloaded. Picking up takeout on the way home seems faster than cooking at home, going out to lunch with co-workers instead of getting a workout in can be justified as team building… and who has time to pack a lunch in the morning anyway? You just keep cramming more and more in.
Your health may be in the back of your mind but never makes it out of the ‘important’ category into the ‘urgent,’ so it doesn’t really get addressed. Until one day, it does. Maybe your favorite pair of jeans no longer fits, maybe you just got some bad news about your cholesterol, maybe a parent falls ill and you begin to ponder your own health and mortality. So you vow to make a change.
You’re serious, you really mean it this time. You buy some healthy stuff for the fridge – less eating out and more cooking at home. You get up a little earlier to pack your lunch. You get a gym membership or contact a personal trainer. It’s a little inconvenient, sure, but it’s all worth it. You’re excited. Until you’re not. Maybe you decide to sleep in a little for a couple of days instead of packing that lunch. And hey, it won’t hurt to grab takeout on the way home just this once since you’re in a hurry. And then there’s that Super Bowl party… and you’ve been being so good that surely it won’t hurt to splurge a little. And maybe you decide that your gym membership or personal trainer is a little expensive and now that you have some experience under your belt, you can do it on your own. Until you can’t. Long story short, you’ve come up against your routine, against your comfort zone, and before you know it you’ve lost the battle. Again.
Unless… you just happen to fall in that category of less than 25% of Americans who actually make a resolution and keep it past the six month mark, who actually make a long term change. What makes these people different? The fitness industry made over $45 billion dollars in 2012… mostly on people who aren’t making permanent changes but are continually grasping at the straws of the latest diet trend or pill, the latest gadget guaranteed to shrink your waist in only three minutes a day, and those making good-intentioned New Year’s Resolutions that will never be fully realized.
But I can tell you without question that the secret doesn’t lie in pills or gadgets or even in the excitement of new resolve, but in confronting how you got where you are in the first place. Look at your schedule and routine. Examine your comfort zones and why they exist. Then, be ready to make the hard choices… the real changes. Saying no to people in your life who see you as an eating or drinking buddy is hard. It changes your dynamic with them and they might not like it or be supportive. Family members may bristle at trying new homemade dishes instead of the tasty yet nutritionally devoid takeout they’ve become accustomed to. Sometimes, the crowd at work may just have to go to lunch without you. You might have to sacrifice a few minutes of sleep in the morning to pack your lunch, or rearrange your evening schedule to get that workout in on the way home three nights a week. You might have to take some healthy dishes to that Super Bowl Party so you won’t dive head first into the buffalo chicken dip.
You’ll run into resistance, I promise. Sometimes, it’ll be a real drag. But keep going because the real question is, will it be worth it? The answer is YES. Just ask anyone who’s done it. I’ve never met a single person who made a long term commitment to their health and regretted it. Not one. Not only will your health be improved, you’ll have more energy, you’ll look better, you’ll be in a better mood, you’ll have better sex, and you’ll live longer. See, statistics can work against you, but when you’re truly taking care of yourself they can work in your favor, too.
So don’t make that resolution lightly. Look hard at where you are, how you got there, and what it will take to get where you want to go. Prepare to encounter bumps in the road. And prepare to get right back on track when that happens. Don’t prepare for a resolution, prepare for a revolution. You won’t regret it.
From January 6-12, Columbus Underground is featuring our Health & Wellness Week series, brought to you by the YMCA of Central Ohio. Join the Y in January and pay $0 enrollment. At the Y, we’re not a health club, we’re a health movement – committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Follow us on Facebook at ymcacolumbusohio and on Twitter @YMCAColumbus. 12 locations, unlimited possibilities! The YMCA. Fit for All.