I said in yesterday's 2016 round-up post that I never make new year's resolutions with a solid end result. The reason for this is that it's easier to fail on these, and sometimes that can be for reasons out of your control, perhaps because life threw a curve-ball or because your goals and expectations were simply unrealistic. So instead, I decide on what I want to achieve and structure a resolution that will lead me towards it, but word it in a way that keeps it in a reasonable perspective, makes it harder to fail, and also structures mini-goals and landmarks.
As an example, in 2015 I resolved to try a new workout every single month - the ultimate goal here was to lose weight, build strength and generally get healthier, fitter and happier. But I didn't state anything like 'drop to a size 10' at the time because that may well not have happened and I would have been extremely bummed out by this point. I would also probably have eaten stupidly, gone onto a restrictive or extreme diet that would have made me miserable and I would no doubt have given up on because those kinds of diets are unmaintainable.
Instead, my spoken goal was to change my workout every month - that meant that I would be encouraged to try new things. I could use difficult workouts knowing it would only be for 4 weeks, I could learn new things, improve on different skills like yoga flexibility and kickboxing, and, above all else, keep it fun, varied and avoid plateaus. In short, that would keep me losing weight rather than burning out and giving up. It's also very difficult to fail a plan like that - after all, all I have to do is dedicate myself to one workout - one DVD, one Youtube channel, one spread in a fitness magazine - for 4-5 weeks, and then, when I reach the end of that, dedicate myself to another one. With all the free resources out there like Darebee, Blogilates, FitnessMagazine.com and so on, how is it possible to fail that?
In fact, it was so easy and addictive that it became a habit that continued all the way through 2016 and will proceed into 2017, too.
And guess what? I made the same resolution in 2016 and subsequently very nearly hit a size 8.
So what cleverly vague resolution am I making this year?
Well, I've made one that addresses the biggest problem I faced over the past year: fear of slowing down. I seem to have gotten it into my head that if I skip a workout, I'm going to lose all my progress, or at least the progress of a full month. Which is, of course, preposterous.
Now, I'm not talking about skipping a workout because I can't be bothered or because I don't have the time - exercising in the morning means that nothing has the chance to get in the way, and it sets me up for the day, too. I will never let myself skip a workout for such a stupid reason, and if I didn't have the time, I'd juggle things around and slip it in later, or sneak it in throughout the day. Rather, the point I'm hoping to address is skipping a workout due to injuries, sickness and things like that. Sometimes, exercising while you're ill is a good idea because it can help your body clean itself out, get the lymphatic system moving and help you to 'sweat it out', but there are points when it's not wise, as this Darebee article on Exercising When You're Sick explains.
Unfortunately, while this information is obvious when you read it, it doesn't get put into practise in my head. Instead, the only reason I'll skip a workout is if a migraine strikes or I've actually broken or twisted something. I need to be immediately incapacitated in order to take a break; as far as I'm concerned, if I can move, I can exercise.
The trouble here is that my body is put under too much strain, injuries are exacerbated, and most importantly, the results I'm working so hard for are simply not going to happen because I can't put the effort in that I need to - or my body can't recover from what I did manage to muster. That fear is what I want to address this year.
So, 2017's resolution is to get over my fear of slowing down and to identify when I need it, and to get into my head that it's 20% work and 80% food. I'm not going to lose my progress by taking one or two days off to recover from an injury or sickness, but I will if I give up on eating well for those two days, too - like if I scoffed 3 boxes of chocolates and had pizza for dinner on both occasions. Brainless decisions like that will hinder progress, but I know myself, and I know that such a thing is not likely to happen at all, especially if I haven't exercised. If I'm ill or feeling that bad, I might have a treat, but it would be small and I would feel immediately guilty, so much so that it couldn't happen again because, if it was two chocolates from a box, I would either throw the rest of the box out or give them away to whoever was nearest. And, I suppose, guilt is something else I need to work on because I eat so well and exercise so intensely and regularly that I have no reason to feel bad about a small taste of chocolate once a week.
Not only that, but the rate at which I exercise might also be too much, itself. I may be overdoing it and slowing my results by pushing too far. The best way to address this, I think, is to purposely choose a low-impact workout for a month every now and then, or to take a week out from a pre-determined high-impact high-result workout in favour of something more fun, familiar and slower to let my body settle. Jumping from one massive workout into another isn't smart - that's why I've already pencilled in a 2-week 'break' consisting of any workout I want between my 8 weeks of Jillian Michaels' Killer Body v2 and 4 weeks of Kettlercise's Ignite which I begin in February.
This is the most grown up resolution I've ever made because it doesn't address a dream or something I want to achieve, but rather addresses an area of myself that I desperately need to improve upon for both physical and mental health. Which also means it's going to be harder because it's forcing me to face the voice in the back of my head and to tell myself, actively, when I'm being stupid - and that means I need to be able to see when that's the case.
I'm a little bit frightened of this, if I'm honest, because even while writing this I still harbour the idea that a day off means undoing weeks of work, and I think that just drives home the necessity all the more.
Do you have any resolutions this year? If you're still trying to come up with one, take a look at this post of new years resolution ideas I made in 2015, and also consider what I said above and in another 2015 post about wording your plans to make failure-proof new year's resolutions. You still have time - as far as I'm concerned, a new year's resolution should begin at some point within January, not necessarily January the 1st. But even then, I believe even more strongly that decisions to improve your life and well-being should be put into action immediately, because waiting until Monday, the start of a month, or the start of a year, puts the plan on a pedestal and gives you further to fall and subsequently further to climb to get back on the horse.
One final piece of advice to start your 2017 off right: you can't fail until you give up.
Deadlines can be moved, extensions given, special conditions and amendments to make goals more realistic. Making use of these does not mean you've failed, it means you're still going.