Why your new year’s resolutions are doomed to fail
By Neil Perkins….with a little held from my friends.
It’s our first January at Henrietta Street Gym and this year’s mad January rush is busier than ever with people embarking on their new fitness challenge. Come Feb, as always, it’ll level out again as people settle into more sustainable routines.
I read something the other day that said only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them, with most people disbanding before the end of January. Whether that’s true or not I would hazard a guess that most of you reading this have already fallen off the wagon in some way or another.
So what is it, particularly with health and fitness, which makes our resolutions so difficult to keep?
1. It wasn’t focused enough
It’s not really surprising that losing weight, getting fit and eating healthy tend to be top of most people’s resolution hit lists – but what does it actually mean? What is it that you really want to achieve?
A lot of people think they want to lose weight but in actual fact they want to reduce fat percentage and reshape their body. Weight training is by far the biggest catalyst to body transformation but muscle weights more than fat, so even though your clothes become looser, you still weigh the same. Your goal ends up being less about that number on the scales and more about how you feel when you look in the mirror.
When it comes to fitness, what is ‘fit’ and how are you going to measure it? Fit for one of our JQ amateur boxers is very different from the regular three times a week gym goer. Our PT’s work with people all the time who want to ‘get fit’ and of course they can create tailored plans but success rates dramatically increase when you have something to aim towards. Book onto the Birmingham half marathon, compete in a Crossfit comp or challenge your fitness and skill by boxing on one of our white collar shows, and your program and our advice ends up being much more comprehensive.
Healthy eating on the other hand can range from cutting down on your alcohol and sugar intake to embarking on a complete diet overhaul. Your better off keeping your target small like reducing sugar from two to one in your coffee.
2. You were unrealistic
It’s easy to say you want to get down to the weight or dress size you were five years ago but is it realistic? And by realistic I mean, can you achieve it in a way that’s not damaging to your physical or mental health.
Health and fitness is not a one-size-fits-all thing and with so many fad diets and social media fitness ‘experts’ popping up it’s easy to get carried along with unachievable and unsustainable ideals – don’t forget that a lot of these fitness bloggers or celeb endorsed diet plans are paid to do this for a living, a. you’re never seeing the full picture, b. it’s their jobs to look good and c. they are essentially selling themselves as a product but we’ll pick up more on this in another blog.
Uneducated and unhealthy practices might actually set you back further on your path to achieve your goals. Your goal might be to lose weight but if you’re taking on extra training as well you might actually need to up your calories rather than reduce them. You should always eat to perform.
3. You don’t have a support network
If you eat a whole pack of chocolate digestives but no one sees, did it really happen? Likewise, if no one knows you’ve given up alcohol but you, who is going to stop you having that cheeky beer after work? Peer pressure is a key factor in whether you stay on track or not, so it’s important to get them on side.
It’s important to remember that your goals are just that, yours! You need to take accountability for the results but having a support network be it your mates, a gym buddy, a personal trainer or a class full of people cheering you on can be make or break for your goals. It sounds simple but just telling other people your goals instantly makes you more committed to success and more responsible if you fail.
I have in the past blogged about a diet – it ensures I stick to it!
4. You didn’t factor in your own enjoyment
How many of us, myself included, have made new year’s resolutions based on what (for whatever reason) you think you should be doing, rather than because you actually want to do it?
No matter how much it might improve your stamina there’s no point deciding that you’re going to run 10k twice a week if you still have underlying issues from when you were made to do cross country at thirteen. Or buying an off-peak gym membership with the intention of training before work if you are categorically, not a morning person. It just won’t work and you’ll end up resenting the process.
The reason our boxing classes are so successful is because our members, some of which who still have never watched a pro fight and have no prior interest in boxing, fall in love with it. Whether they’re doing it for fitness, to release pent-up stress after work or they want to get in the ring for real, they come for the punch bags and stay for the people – both other punters and our expert trainers.
At the end of the day it needs to be fun, so find something you enjoy and stick with it. And if you can’t find something you enjoy, find a group of like minded people who will drag you along with them.
The best way to drop bodyfat is weight training at mid reps to exhaustion combined with low intensity cardio and a calorie controlled diet low in sugar – train like a bodybuilder pre show and tell me how sustainable and fun it is!
5. It was all or nothing
So what you had a piece of cake at work when it was your colleague’s birthday, or missed a gym session because you had to work late. It is not the end of the world and the likelihood is that a little blip won’t affect your overall results too much (but that is not to say that if your goal is to lose body fat you can do it every week).
Just don’t let your cheat meal become a cheat day, or worse become a cheat week! Get up when you slip up, get back on track and keep going. Particularly if 2017 is your first venture back into a healthier lifestyle for a while, don’t be too hard on yourself. Be firm but fair and most importantly be honest with yourself. If you fail once ask yourself why, but then deal with it and keep moving forward.
So forget new year’s resolutions, make SMART goals instead. Most of our members are business men and women with goals and KPIs they have to meet as part of their job, but bring that concept into their personal lives and suddenly it’s completely alien. Having multiple Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Based goals have a much higher success rate than one massive, vague resolution that you probably won’t even think about again until December. And if you can’t work out your goals alone, chat with your trainer about what it is you really want and how best to achieve it.
We’ve helped our members in Birmingham accomplish all sorts of goals ranging from complete body transformations to achieving personal bests in weight lifting. From being able to do a single press up to purely improving self-confidence inside and out of the gym. But the most important thing to remember is that your goal is personal to you.
It might be the end of January but good luck with whatever your goals are for 2017, tomorrow is as good a day to start as any.