Ah, the New Year… A time for perpetual hope and fresh starts.
It’s also time for all the Negative Nancy’s of the internet to try to rain on everyone’s parade by reminding you the percentage of New Year’s Resolutions that fail. I think we all know most people fall off the wagon on their goals for the year; we also know that divorce rates are astronomical, but no one ever brings that up during engagement season.
The truth of the matter is, you are not going to succeed at becoming a better version of yourself until YOU are ready. So I have no problem with when someone decides to start the process, whether its January 1st, next Thursday, or right now. Another truth that these Debbie Downers should remember as they’re poo-poo’ing on people who are excited to implement change, is that failure is inevitable and success is not linear. Even the most carefully laid plans and most committed individuals aren’t going to have 100% wins. Everyone has bad days, bad workouts, unexpected events that are out of our control; true growth comes from knowing even on the bad days you’re still doing more than the old version of you would.
I am here to share some actual truths so you can set realistic expectations for 2024 - AND BEYOND. Because when it comes to lifestyle improvement, there shouldn’t be an end in sight; it should be a lifetime commitment to being the healthiest version of yourself.
If you’ve chosen to become healthier, let me be the first to congratulate you. With any negative or problematic behavior, the first step is always acknowledging the problem and making the decision to change it. Dedicating yourself to staying the course even when the waters get choppy - even if it means falling completely off the boat, swimming your way back, climbing on board, and navigating your way backward til the storm passes – is the key to lasting success. Mindset truly is everything and for better or worse, the mind is the toughest muscle to train.
It's for that reason so many people flop after a few weeks on their resolutions. We all know that come New Years Day the gyms will be packed and everyone will be kicking off Dry January, but by February 1st those same people will have backtracked completely to what they wanted to leave behind in 2023. The problem is that they didn’t master the mindset and take the tiny steps necessary before throwing themselves full throttle into a lifestyle that is so foreign to their current “normal” that it’s unsustainable.
That is because success or failure is found within your daily routine.
How you spend the first 2 hours of your morning will set the tone for the entire day, so developing positive habits during that crucial time period is the most important thing you can do for your self-development. We all have different schedules that are influenced by our family dynamics and obligations, but 90% of the people in this world waste the most valuable hours of their day by hitting snooze and scrolling on social media. Because adequate sleep plays such a vital role in overall health, I suggest dedicating 8-9 hours to bed and building the rest of your schedule from there. For example, I have to start my workday by 9am. I also am someone who must workout in the morning or else I won’t get it done, so to accommodate those obligations as well as showering and walking the dog, I have to wake up at the latest by 5:30am. That puts me in bed by 8:30-9:30pm for a full rest. However, for my friend who works evenings and doesn’t end his day until 11pm, he hits the sack by midnight and rises at 8am. Accommodate “your normal” instead of killing yourself trying to keep up with someone who has a totally different lifestyle.
When your alarm goes off, immediately get out of bed and accomplish these simple tasks each day: Drink 20oz of water, make your bed, move your body for at least 20 minutes and take in some fresh air and sunlight. Nothing on this list costs you a dime but will become the most valuable assets you possess, as it instills discipline for the rest of your day. If you can master your mind and complete these tasks every single day, regardless of outside or internal influence, then you are ready to make changes to your diet and physical fitness. However, until you can commit yourself to this simple routine that requires minimal effort and 30 minutes of time, you may as well not even bother to try the actual hard work. Get out of bed on the first alarm no matter how cozy or tired you are. Ignore the social media notifications. Remember to drink the water by setting it up on the nightstand the night before. Make your bed, then throw on your clothes and go outside for a 20-30 minute walk no matter if it’s cold or hot, rain or shine.
Once you’ve ingrained this routine into your mind, you can begin to tackle your diet and exercise. Here again you don’t want to just throw yourself into an extreme regiment and need to take baby steps; remember, this is a lifetime commitment to betterment and there is no expiration date. I would spend at least a few days if not a week, simply tracking and logging your current “normal.” The truth is, most of us are eating way more calories, way less protein, and taking way less steps than we realize. Buy a food scale for $10 and begin weighing everything you eat and tracking in an app like MyFitnessPal. Monitor your steps each day and see how close you’re currently getting to the necessary 10,000. Only by getting the clarity of your current reality can you begin to make changes. From there, figure out your macros (you can google this) and stick to them by eating whole, nutritious foods and eliminating processed, boxed garbage. Once you are consistently hitting 10,000 steps per day, before you invest in a gym membership, start mastering “prison exercises” - basic bodyweight moves that target your whole body, cost nothing, and can be done anywhere. Burpees, push-ups, sit-ups, squat jumps, mountain climbers and planks will absolutely wreck you and will whip you into shape faster than any class or machine.
The reason behind resolution failure is that everyone sets unreasonable expectations. It’s wonderful to have an ultimate goal in mind and the motivation to jump in feet first, but the problem with motivation is that it’s fleeting. Dedication is the true key to success, and that comes with honoring daily commitments to yourself, even if you fall off the wagon and have to start over. Dedication is what picks you back up when you stumble instead of allowing you to give up completely and revert to old ways. Start by making small, attainable daily changes and master those before you attempt large, intangible goals that are completely out of your reach. Try as you might, you can’t jump from the base of a mountain to the peak. However, by taking it step by step each day, even though sometimes you must sit down and rest or even ask for directions or a boost over a rock, you WILL reach the top.
Happy New Year!