We are now several weeks into the new year and realizing that the resolutions we set out to do might not be obtainable. With the new year, many of us are overly ambitious in trying to obtain our health and fitness goals. Many of us are guilty of making lofty, unrealistic goals, only to quickly realize they are not reachable.
This newfound excitement for exercising usually results in trying to run marathons or strength train like a bodybuilder. This usually leads to muscle soreness, joint pain, and unfortunately sometimes even injury. Or maybe you are determined to lose those stubborn 20 pounds and you have found the “quick fix” that will solve all of your weight loss issues. Maybe you are trying a new diet, an old diet, or something in between. After a few days or weeks of the diet, you may quickly fall back to old habits because it is too tedious or too hard.
If you are guilty of this, that is okay; keep reading to learn some new strategies. If you don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, that is okay too. Maybe this post will give you an alternative to goal setting that agrees with you more.
Why We Continue to Make Resolutions
So after a month of binging on sweets during December, what possesses us to think we can all of the sudden give up sugar and soda overnight? Or why do we think we can now cycle the Tour de France on our Peloton? I am not sure, but I think it has to do with two things: guilt from over-indulging during the holidays and the idea of new beginnings and a fresh start in January.
New beginnings and starting over are great. It is something I believe in. People can change; I know because I have witnessed it. But what if we changed our perspective on how to make permanent changes?
A More Sustainable Alternative
Instead of burning ourselves out during the first four to six weeks of the year, what if we focused on a more gradual, sustainable strategy? My theory for this approach comes from author James Clear who stated, “If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.” So if you eat 100 pieces of candy today, you can eat only 99 tomorrow and will still improve by 1%. Then the next day, you would only eat 98 and so on and so forth.
You get the idea. Gradual daily improvements over a long period of time are the key to making lasting change without feeling overwhelmed.
I recommend focusing on one to three small habit changes at a time. So instead of doing a major overhaul of your normal food consumption, focus on cutting out sugar while still allowing yourself healthier alternatives (foods with natural sweeteners). You can also try replacing simple carbohydrates with more complex carbs instead of trying to eliminate carbs. Instead of trying to exercise at the gym for an hour every day (when you previously didn’t exercise), commit to 15 minutes for three to five days per week. Even just going for a daily walk at a brisk pace is a good place to start and costs you nothing if you can do it outside.
You Can Do This!
Now that you are armed with a new strategy, you are ready to go out and conquer some changes in your habits and lifestyle! What will you conquer first? Share in the comments. Even if you feel like the small changes you are making now are insignificant, keep the promise of the 1% theory in mind. Eventually, these gradual changes will compound into drastic change over time. You’ve got this!
Originally published January 2022.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.