About a month ago, on December 31, as the clock was approaching midnight, almost half of all Americans had a resolution for the new year. And as the ball finally dropped, amid the confetti and kisses and throwing out their best guesses to “Auld Lang Syne”, these people declared “2016 is the year I’m going to…”
…Learn a new language… Remodel their home… Become a breakdance master…
Americans make a lot of resolutions, but most of them are related to getting healthy. 35% of resolutions made are either “lose weight” or “exercise”. Well that’s great, right? By those numbers, fast food is going to be a dying industry come August!
Well, too bad 1 in 3 resolutions will be broken by the end of January, meaning that right about now, 33% of those who truly wanted to improve their health are starting to skip their workout and opt for a pizza delivery. By the mid-point of the year, over half the resolutions will be abandoned.
Let’s be frank: the idea of a New Year’s resolution is short-sighted. We can get as excited as we want about making amazing changes in our lives as soon as the new year hits, but once the dust settles and the hangovers subside, all we’re left with most of the time are the same bad habits we had the year before. Nothing magical happens because you have a new “Sights of Italy” desk calendar.
That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom. If you’re truly committed to making changes to your help, there are ways you can be successful. Heck, helping people make these changes is what we’re all about, so we know it can be done (and at any time of the year, may we add).
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” and we couldn’t agree more. So we want to equip you with a plan of attack.
The American Psychological Association has some tips for sticking to your resolution. We’re going to review them here, and show you how to apply each tip to your health and fitness goals.
Tip #1: Start Small
We’ve touched on this before, but if you’re thinking your journey to being healthy should be anything like what you’ve seen on shows like The Biggest Loser, stop. Dropping 25 pounds in a week is unrealistic, not to mention remarkably unhealthy.
The APA suggests “Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven.”
Use the month experience to calibrate the goal. Perhaps you learned there are some days where you are too busy to get 100 push-ups in, so shoot for 700 push ups a week, with a daily average of 100. Again, one of the most important things to do with your resolution is stay realistic.
The same goes with your eating habits. If you’ve been on a steady diet of burgers, fries and sugary snacks, you can’t be expected to cut everything cold turkey. Start by getting a burger without cheese, then disregard the fries, then the soda. Take baby steps. They’ll stick better than enormous leaps.
Tip #2: Change One Behavior At A Time
“Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time,” the APA writes. “Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.”
You may have set a resolution of doing 100 hundred push ups a day, 50 pull ups, 2 full body stretches, 1 foam rolling session, etc. Then you remember you haven’t done a push-up since the Clinton administration.
There’s no shame in dropping some of the resolutions and sticking to only one. The average person has tens of years and new year’s resolutions ahead of them. Get one you can stick with and grow from there.
Tip #3: Talk About It
This one can be tricky if you’re more of an introvert and don’t like to talk about yourself often. But the APA suggests you “Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking.”
Try to find a local street calisthenics community and start hanging out with them. Beaches and playgrounds are common places for street workout enthusiasts to meet as well. If you are open about your goals it can make you feel more accountable for seeing them through, instead of being able to privately abandon them without any culpability.
Tip #4: Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Ok, you skipped a morning workout. So you decide you’ll make sure you eat particularly well today. But then you get to work and your boss has brought in donuts, and those have always been your weakness. Then your coworker wants to go to that new pizza place for lunch. Well, it is Friday.
Then at the end of the day you’re faced with that familiar self-loathing that typically follows a day of poor eating. But the APA says you don’t need to put yourself through this.
“Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.”
If you had that goal of 700 push-ups a week (for the 100/day average) and you find you can only average 90, you’ll still be a lot stronger than when you started. If you couldn’t make time for your bodyweight exercises at all one week, that’s OK. We’re human, and we all make mistakes. It doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel on your fitness goals, or be extra-hard on yourself the following week.
Tip #5: Ask for Support
Hey, even Batman needs Robin every now and again. More from APA:
“Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help.”
That’s exactly why we offer advice and assistance to our members. Plenty of other calisthenics websites offer this support too. At the end of the day, whether beginner or bodyweight veteran, all of us are trying to get better. Even the experts ask for help when they need it.
You can reach the goals you set for the new year. It’s not going to be easy, as the statistics show. But if you’re committed to getting healthy, and take the steps we’ve suggested here, you can make 2016 a signature year for your fitness journey.