I had a revelation the other day while I was watching a video I had taken of a set of my own squats. I try and take some video footage of my lifts at least a couple of days a week; not for vanity’s sake but so that I can step back and cast my trainer’s eyeballs on what’s actually going on. There’s no more valuable tool in the gym than the video app on your phone. Anyway, I was watching myself squat from behind, and, okay – I admit it – being super mean to myself over the size of my ass in the video. Now, I did what I usually do when those thoughts creep in: I pushed them aside because they are no good to me, and moved on. They were still hanging around after I finished my training session though, and on my way home I resolved to be better. Tighten up my nutrition, do some cardio, and start taking care of business so that I don’t end up calling myself names in the gym like a big mean bully.
Here’s the thing. Leading up to the holiday season I was doing really well. I was on track to get where I wanted to be by the end of January. I was tracking my calories and macronutrient intake and feeling pretty damn good…and then at Christmastime I took three days off and didn’t worry about it. I had a plan for getting myself dialed back in after the three days; it was a little stricter than I had been for the weeks leading up to Christmas but that was okay because I wanted it. I was ready. I was SO FREAKING CLOSE.
Except that when I tried to get on that plan, I failed on the first day. And then the next. And again. I decided that I needed some time to get back to ‘good’ before I could be perfect. Baby steps.
It occurred to me that New Year’s Resolutions are screwed before you even make them, you know why? Because Christmas, that’s why: we’re chugging along doing okay before the holidays, and then along comes this week (or more) where ALL BETS ARE OFF. We eat too much, we drink too much, we go to bed late, get up late…and then we resolve to turn it all upside down on January 1st and be better than before. No wonder most resolutions fail.
Tell me if this doesn’t sound crazy: you’re chugging along doing okay in life. Maybe not where you want to be in a perfect world, but okay. Then December happens and there are parties, gatherings, concerts, galas, extra food, extra cooking and baking to do, shopping, drinking…add that to all the stuff you’re obliged to do anyway, like go to work, look after your family, take care of your house, etc (because you don’t get a break from that just because it’s December). Add in flu season, vitamin D deficiency (if you live far enough north like I do and there are only a few hours of sunlight a day), stress, more stress, fatigue, sugar EVERYWHERE but it’s okay if you medicate with sugar; January’s coming and we’re all gonna be PERFECT so we might as well get it all out of our systems now. Right?
So then Jan 1st appears, the morning after the world’s biggest party. It’s cold and dark and you’re exhausted. But never mind that! It’s the new year motherfuckers, time to get on that cleanse and eat clean and be perfect. Drag your head out of the toilet, slam some wheatgrass juice, and get to spin class!
I think if there has to be requisite madness in December, then there should be a month of quiet in January to catch up on sleep, get our houses in order, reflect, re-establish some normal behaviour patterns, and THEN you can talk to me about New Year’s Resolutions.
So with that in mind, I pulled out the plan I had for getting back on track after Christmas and started it again this week. It’s going waaay better this time around – going from pretty good to awesome is a much easier switch to make than FUBAR to awesome.
How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that lots of them are either forgotten or on the back burner because it takes most of January to re-establish normal life. Maybe now because we’re into February you are starting to beat yourself up just a wee bit for not getting started or for not being consistent right off the bat.
If that sounds like you, stop that shit. Stop it right now. Instead, take that energy you were spending on stewing and berating yourself and use it to take the next positive step – but here’s the catch: it has to be action. No more “that’s it, I’m starting tomorrow” or “next week” or whatever your thinky brain wants to throw out there to justify the status quo. Get the ball rolling: go buy some groceries, prepare some healthy food, drink a glass of water, do a set of bodyweight squats, or three 10-second planks. Do it now. Yes, right now. I’ll wait.
Okay, you’re on your way! Time to stop feeling guilty for any perceived failures in January – you didn’t fail, you just needed time to re-establish normal before you take those steps toward getting better.