Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year…New Year’s Resolutions?

So who made resolutions this year? I have never been one for resolutions. First of all, does it really take a whole year ending and a new one beginning for people to take stock of life and implement some changes? I feel like this should not be an annual event. We are perpetually evolving; there is no start and end date. It is constant journey…with all the progress I have made, I continue to be a “work in progress.”
Having said that, I don’t think it is a bad time to kick off some new habits or maybe just get back on track. I know for me, the holidays are filled with way too many social engagements, more treats than I usually have and of course lots of wine! I never go completely nuts, but still I am very much off my usual routine.
I must say, as much as I enjoy a bit of holiday splurging, a big part of me looks forward to my post holiday “detox”. I know you are all envisioning something like a juice cleanse or only smoothies as meals. Even the no dairy, no wheat, no sugar thing to too much for me. I try to keep it simple and stick to the holiday triggers that got me off track. For me it is focused on getting back to healthy eating, as I am pretty good at sticking to my exercise routine during the holidays. I go back to eating whole, real foods, cut out all the nighttime snacking, which is a HUGE weakness for me, and I limit myself to only having wine on the weekends. I am not a huge drinker, but I can often get into the habit of coming home from a bad day at work and having a glass of wine, which often turns in to 2 and by Thursday I am like “well tomorrow is Friday anyway, so why not?” and it just snowballs from there.
Set Reasonable Goals
I know a lot of people start of the year with massive goals – they feel like “this year will be different” and they set expectations so high that they are bound to fail. It is insane to think you are going to go from a burger loving, French fry junkie to someone who craves green juice, just because it’s a new year and don’t even get me started on the masses of new gym people who drive me insane…
Now I commend people who are jumping on the exercise bandwagon, but if you did not go at all last year, what makes you think you are going to go this year. Or similarly, people who never go to the gym resolve to go 5 days a week! How about trying to get there twice a week? Baby steps. Overdoing will only have a negative effect. If you are super sore and in constant pain or worse injured, you are never going to be able to sustain your motivation. Just like with eating. If you love meat, becoming a vegan because you think that is healthier or will help you lose weight will not work. Make choices and changes that feel good to you and are realistic.
Find What You Like And What Will Keep You Motivated
Maybe the gym is not your thing, maybe try yoga, or take a dance class. There are tons of ways to get moving and many do not involve a gym. It’s not only about finding an activity you enjoy, but also what motivates you. I hate working out in the morning, so planning to get up before work every day and hitting the gym is just self sabotage. What will work for you? Some people don’t go to the gym, because in the winter who wants to leave the house? Or some people hate the gym because they are intimidated by the gym or don’t understand how to use the equipment. If you can’t rally to go out to workout, is working at home an option for you? There are tons on apps, online programs and DVD based home workouts to choose from – many that don’t even require equipment.
But for some people, working out at home is not an option. I know for me, once I get home from work, if I do not immediately change my clothes and head out the door, I ain’t going no place. Once my butt hits the couch I am done! And for people like me who live in NYC, not only do I need to get off the couch and put those workout clothes on to workout at home, but I need to move half the furniture in my living room to create a decent workout space. I also need to contend with a cat who thinks he is helping when he sprawls out under my downward facing dog or sniffs and licks the sweat off my forehead when I am trying to do crunches! LOL!!  I need to go somewhere to workout.
Be Accountable And Find Support
Just as important as it is to find out what you like and what motivates you, you need someone or something that will keep you accountable. Do you have a friend or partner you can work out with? Or can you afford to hire a trainer? Hiring a trainer is obviously an expensive option, but I know for me, knowing someone is there waiting on me (or the fact that I am paying for it) makes me go even when I don’t want to.
Even if you can’t afford a trainer, there are other ways to get some support. Many gyms do offer a couple free sessions with a trainer when you sign-up, just to get you started or they have staff that will work with you to set up a program, along with tools to track your workouts and progress. They can also help you to get more familiar with the equipment.
Group classes are also an excellent choice. I know some people feel like they will be the only person in the class who is not in shape or who doesn’t know what they are doing, but in my experience if you go a little bit earlier, most instructors are happy to help you get set up and they often give you more attention throughout the class if they know you are new. And trust me, you will not be the only new person there and even the people who have been doing it for years still are not perfect. I have been spinning for years and I still have days I can’t get the damn foot cages on my bike!
There are also group programs that are offered through gyms or even in some workplaces that are a great way to keep you on track. Something about having a schedule I think really makes a difference. Even if you do not join a group program, like a boot camp or running group where there are set times that you are expected to be there, I find just making a schedule for yourself helps to keep you on track. I schedule my workouts for the month on my calendar, just like I would dinner plans or doctors’ appointments. Of course things may change, but whatever I change, I reschedule. So for example, I usually take a specific spinning class on Sunday mornings. Well this weekend I have brunch plans, so instead I have rescheduled spinning for Saturday morning. Having it on your calendar will not only remind you to go, but will make it part of your routine. There are also online tools and apps that allow you to track your workouts and often have associated user communities so you have others that keep you motivated.
Have Patience And Be Kind To Yourself
Whatever your goals are or whatever changes you want to make, be proud of yourself for taking steps towards achieving those goals. You didn’t gain 30 pounds overnight so you are not going to lose it overnight. Your love of pizza for lunch every day won’t magically be replaced by a love of salads. Change takes time, particularly long-term lifestyle changes. There are going to be bumps in the road and setbacks, but the key is to stick with it. And more importantly, identify when something is not working and change it. If you are taking a spinning class and dread it every time, then try something else. Love pizza, well you don’t have to give it up completely, maybe just have it less or have only one slice with a  side salad. It is amazing what small, simple changes can do. You are in it for the long haul – be that person who 2 months from now is still making progress, not the person who hit the gym religiously for a month and then called it quits. 

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