The new year of 2019 cultivates fresh ideas geared toward improving yourself in your career, family life or overall health among many other facets in life.
As personal trainers in Napa, we know that this is a popular time of year for inquiries from individuals looking to improve their health and fitness. We also see many advertisements in the media promoting New Year’s specials at a local gym, “jumpstart” boot camp specials, or weight loss and Fit Bit walking challenges offered by employers. These are all fantastic motivators to get moving and improve fitness levels. What happens, however, when these specials are over or the goal is met?
What happens when the weight-loss challenge is complete? Is the 30-day challenge over and did you get success from it?
If you answered “yes” to those questions, you’re a rock star. On the flip side, let’s say you didn’t achieve success in some of these New Year’s jumpstart programs. Now the fitness promoting programs must come to an end and we’re left to our own devices. The motivation to renew the new year’s special gym membership has fizzled. The 30-day challenge of clean eating is over, so the reason to adhere to a diet is null and void. Maybe the habits that we begrudgingly abstained from like eating bread or drinking soda have returned because nothing is holding you back. The weight-loss goal is met, so now you can eat whatever you want and the need for exercise hits the back burner.
These short-term goals can introduce a vicious cycle of failure because they are challenging to sustain. Whenever something is pressured upon humans, we question what’s on the other side and naturally want to go there. “I had to exercise for 30 days straight because the program told me so.” It almost sounds like a probationary period that you need to adhere to or else the authorities are going to hunt you down. When that program is over, I would bet money on how much the person would look forward to staying as far away from routine exercise as possible because they may feel like they were handcuffed to it. When we enter something because “we have to do it,” the likelihood to sustain that activity is significantly decreased.
There is a solution to getting away from the regimented 30-day exercise and nutrition “challenge” that fosters pressure to stay on track. Look for physical activities that compel you to do them — physical activities that stimulate learning and the desire to improve upon them. Mastering something and desiring to improve at a specific activity develops intrinsic motivation to continue to pursue it. By sticking to an activity that you can learn from, you stimulate the desire to want to learn more and the desire to the return to that activity increases.
A sustainable New Year’s resolution would be to look at what hobbies, crafts or recreational activities you have put on the shelf due to the intricacies of life and see which ones you can get back into. Picking up on a game like Pickle Ball, getting into the garden, refining some furniture or developing some new cooking recipes with fresh food are just a few examples on how to refine fitness levels. When these extracurricular activities drive the ability to want to improve upon them, it’s easy to go back for more. More importantly, these activities are what certain people consider to be fun and something that would influence the mastery of craft. Moving more, eating better, and stimulating the mind is a great way to start of the new and offer the life-long satisfaction of activities that keep the body healthier.
As we venture into a new year of many new and exciting things on the horizon, perhaps we can set aside some the clichéd health and fitness fads that require a short-lived goal. Life is a long game we play that requires us to sustain ourselves to get the fullest out of it. For 2019, I challenge you to look back into the archives of crafts you enjoy that require you to use the strength in your body and the mental acuity of your mind as a form of fitness. Get better at that craft or hobby. As our desire to learn compelling physical activities grows, we support a sustainable sense of ambition to improve and further support our life time fitness. If we can adhere to the principle of linking enjoyment and learning to physical activity, we’ll set ourselves up for an even better 2020.