5 Reasons Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions Will Fail

This year I resolve to:

  • Lose weight
  • Start a fitness program
  • Workout more
  • Eat healthier
  • Stop smoking, drinking, etc.

It’s likely you have had one or more of these resolutions on your list in the past.  It’s also likely you made it a few weeks, maybe even a few months, into the New Year then gave up on your resolution.  Why?

Why do most resolutions fail?

We ask too much of ourselves, we make a job out of reaching our resolutions and we aren’t very nice to ourselves when we slip up.  We become our own overbearing, micro-managing boss.  So, of course, we eventually rebel against ourselves.

Too Many Resolutions

The New Year brings excitement about the possibility of the future.  You may find yourself pumped up to accomplish lots of big and bold goals, so you make a huge list of resolutions.  That’s fine.  It’s good to get things you want to do in life out of your head and onto paper.  That’s the first step to bringing them to fruition.

Once you’ve made that list, prioritize it.  If you could only accomplish one resolution this year, which would you choose first?  Write it on a separate sheet of paper and post it somewhere you will see it everyday.  Honing in on one resolution helps you to get some real traction.  If you accomplish it before the year is up, you may find you have the confidence and motivation to accomplish a few more on your larger list.

Resolution Is Broad, Vague or Complicated

Losing weight is probably number one of a lot of resolution lists every year.    The problem with it as a resolution is that’s too vague.  How much weight do you want to lose?  Losing 50 lbs requires a different strategy than losing 5 lbs.  Losing body fat involves putting on muscle, so your scale and BMI index may indicate that you haven’t lost any weight for a while.

The other factor with the goal of losing weight is time.  When do you want to achieve this goal?  Is that realistic?  How much time to you have to give to your fitness program?

Diet is yet another factor.  Are you willing to change your eating habits?  That takes time too.

When clients don’t see the scale tip 5 pounds in the first week, they get discouraged and want to quit.

Losing weight is a big goal that needs to be broken down into smaller steps, benchmarks and goals.  Instead of resolving to lose weight.  Try a resolution that is specific, tangible and measurable like resolving to walk for 30 minutes/3 times per week or to eat your last meal of the day before 7:00pm.  At the end of each week, you can answer yes or no to whether you have accomplished what you resolved to do.  You may even lose weight as a result.

Resolutions Go Against Personal Values

You know that refined sugar is bad for you, so you resolve to cut all refined sugar from your diet.  Then you are invited to a good friend’s house for dinner.  She made her famous chocolate cake because she know you love it so much.  You value enjoying yourself, supporting friends and accepting hospitality.  You are now faced with a dilemma.  Do you indulge and break your resolution or do you go against your values and risk hurting your friend’s feelings to keep your resolution?

Whatever you decide that day, you will be left feeling bad in someway.  This bad feeling can erode your will to continue to pursue your resolution.  If it doesn’t erode it completely, you may decide to make exceptions or compromises to your resolution.  In any case, you lose your enthusiasm about your resolution.

When you make your resolution, check it against your personal values.  Think of circumstances where there may be conflict between your mind and your heart.  Factor that into your resolution plan.  If my resolution conflicts with my values, then I will _____.  You cannot predict every conflict but you can prevent that conflict from completing throwing you off your resolution.

Willpower Becomes Depleted

There are many theories about why willpower wears thin, but we do know that if you are trying to resist many things at once, your willpower depletes.  That is why having too many resolutions going at once becomes overwhelming.  Also having a resolution that continually denies you of something depletes willpower.

If you resolve to cut out grains completely from your diet, for example, you may find yourself drawn into daydreams about the popcorn that you smell someone microwaving in the office kitchen.  You may not even particularly like popcorn or ever had a craving for it like that before.  Because you are denying yourself of carbs, your brain will trick you into thinking you are depriving your body of something vital.

Maybe your resolution is too severe.  Try weaning yourself from grains.  You can decide to only have grain when you feel like you need them.  Maybe you absolutely have to have toast or oatmeal for breakfast.  Allow for that, but just remember to ask yourself if you really need it or if you think you do out of habit.

Negative Reinforcement

We are so hard on ourselves when it comes to resolutions.  We talk to ourselves in ways that we would never tolerate hearing from other people.  We call ourselves names to coax us into finally doing that resolution this year.  We look at ourselves so critically in the mirror.  One slip up and we call ourselves complete failures.

Before you finalize your resolution, look at what it’s saying to you.  Is it a resolution that’s fun, meaning that it’s challenging and novel?  Are you just creating my burden for yourself and becoming your own task master?  Will you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment with this resolution?  Does it enliven your sense of curiosity?

Let’s take the resolution, “I resolve to workout more.”  Jeez, really?  You already work 50 plus hours each week.  Do you really want more work?

What if you changed that to “I resolve to try new activities until I find one that I really love doing and is so much fun that I cannot wait to do it.”?  You’ve created a challenging adventure for yourself to start looking at sports, recreation and fitness activities of all kinds and trying them out.  You can enlist friends to join you. Who knows, you may find you are natural Parkour Traceuse/yogini.

If you are tired of making resolutions every year only to give up on your list mid-January, join Spitfire’s New Year’s Fitness Resolution Renovation Program.  In this program, you get to the heart of what you want to accomplish in 2012, creating a blueprint to get there, get rid of what’s holding you back, and build a fitness program that suits you, your schedule and your lifestyle.

Learn more…

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12 Hacks of Fitness, Holiday Style

Why add stress to an already stressful season by feeling guilty about getting to the gym? While you are out running errands or getting ready for the holidays, you can still get your body moving and, who knows, you may even enjoy time with your loved ones with these exercise hacks.
1. Take Those Stairs
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it a million times that you get a quick, heart-pumping workout by taking the stairs. You also get to avoid elevators with all awkward social interaction and people couching and sneezing in an enclosed space.

2. Park in the Boonies
Here’s the choice: (1) Park close to the lot exit and walk to and from the store then have an easy escape from the lot. (2) Waste time looking for a parking space close to the store then wait behind a line of cars to get out of the parking lot. Jogging while pushing a loaded cart is a great strength/endurance combo. You might even giggle a little.

3. Speed Shop
With your shopping list in hand, set a time limit to get everything on your list. If you have company, give them part of the list and set a rendezvous time. Since strategy and quick thinking are required, your brain gets some exercise too.

4. Catch That Train
Add cardio into your daily routine by setting up mini-sprints or speed walks. Metro pulling in just as you swipe your farecard? Make a dash for it. Is time running out on the “Walk” light? Put some hustle on it. Last call for boarding your flight? Hug that carry on tight and go for it.

5. Puddle Jump
Leap over puddles, balance on the ice, walk into the wind. Foul weather provides some great training tools.

6. Clean Up the Joint
Leaf blower be damned, a sturdy rack is a better piece of training equipment than any infomercial abs apparatus of the week. Break out the vacuum and the feather dust to get you stretching, reaching and lunging in no time. Clean house + good workout = peaceful night’s sleep.

7. Add Some Sparkle
Pull those boxes filled with holiday decorations and lights down from the attic. Pick out the biggest Christmas tree in the lot and carry it to the car. Get out the ladder and give the body a good stretch putting up the outdoor lights…or, keep the ladder in the garage and hone your climbing skills.

8. Deliver Goodies
Load up your kids’ wagon, stroller or rolling school bag with the treats you made to deliver them to your neighbors. You get fresh air, a little cardio and some big hugs. Caroling is also good, but not as appreciated as cookies.

9. Desk Chair Race
If your office party is lacking spontaneity and fun, instigate a desk chair race. It is great balance of workout and “Weeee!” factor. To increase difficulty, wear a pencil skirt and stilettos or add obstacles, like co-workers or your boss.

10. Play Hide the Presents
Do kids even know how to play Hide-and-Seek or Tag these days? They sure know how to search for hidden presents. Make a game of it. Hide presents in places where you and your kids have to stretch, crawl and climb to reach. Everyone gives a workout and has a bit of family fun.

11. Dance the Night Away
Your office lined up the sweetest dance floor with an amazing light display for the holiday party. Grab your date and hit that dance floor with a fury. Don’t shy away. Go into the light! You might not be dancing with the stars, but you’ll be the smoking hot star of the party.

12. Get It On
The stress of the holidays can smash the life out of anyone’s libido. But you have tried some of the other 11 holidays hacks, so your engine is revved (Especially, sine you were the tango stars of the office party.). Nothing incorporates all aspects of fitness—-strength, flexibility, endurance maybe even balance–like Sex. You get the extra benefits of total relaxation, endorphin and dopamine release and, you know, intimacy. Love on!

Falling Into Your Run

My mom tells me that I skipped the whole crawling and walking thing.  As soon as I was able to stand, I started running.  I don’t remember if this is true or not but it makes sense.  Walking is essentially controlled running.

If you watch kids when they are first figuring out how to walk, they lean forward far enough that gravity pulls them into a fall.  They bring one foot out in front of them to stop the fall.  The process continues with each step.  I’ve thinking about this ever since a friend turned me onto Laurie Anderson’s Walking and Falling in high school.  So, when we run as kids, we simply give into gravity a little bit more than we do when walking.

The ravages of socialization and sitting in desks lessen our ability to let gravity take us into a run.  For adult women, it can be even harder because we start wearing shoes that lift our heels high than our toes, which actually shifts us into that falling position constantly.  We learn to fight gravity by leaning back.  We have to make a lot of effort to run because leaning forward and letting gravity take us has become unnatural.

As an adult, I found running difficult and just so not fun.  Fortunately, I discovered Danny Dreyer‘s Chi Running.  I relearned how to take the effort out of running by coming back to how I ran as a toddler.  It took some time to trust that I could work with gravity without falling on my face, but once I did, running became more enjoyable.

Whenever I work with clients on their running form, I have to get them used to this same feeling of controlled falling.  It is so satisfying to see when they get it and to hear that their knee or hip pain has subsided, because they are working with gravity rather than fighting it.

On December 15, Spitifire launches Ready, Set…Run!, an online program for runners.  The program includes:

  • Why and how to warm up and cool down from your run
  • Techniques to speed recovery
  • How to prevent muscle stiffness and tightness
  • What women need to think about that men don’t
  • Cross-training tips for runners
  • Resources to improve running technique

For more information and to sign up, visit the Ready, Set…Run! page.

Triathlon Training Pirate Style

A Take On Ben Mufti’s Traithlon Training

  • Get many tattoos to learn to laugh at pain.
  • Set an extraordinarily high goal f
    The Jolly Roger of Barbossa's Crew, which was ...

    Image via Wikipedia

    or yourself.

  • Chart your course well.
  • Taunt any and every athlete you encounter with your obviously superior abilities and looks.
  • Hoard equipment and shoes.
  • Flaunt your booty so all may admire your treasures.
  • Bury some of your treasure in various locations.
  • Become a master at charm.
  • Attack your adversaries without warning.
  • Laugh heartily as often as possible, especially at your own jokes.
  • Fuel your training with huge meals and heavy drinking.
  • Celebrate your victories by gourging yourself or eating something that requires signing a waiver.
  • Break hearts and take no prisoners.

Mufti Memorial 5K Run/Walk

Sunday, December 4th
8:00am
Picnic area 24 in Rock Creek Park (next to the Carter Baron Amphitheater and the Tennis Center).

Register online or in person at the Northwest Sport & Health (4001 Brandywine St. NW)

Cost is $20 for charity (+ a nominal service charge for online registration).

The cost will go up to $25 on Monday November 28th. There will be no race day registration.

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Mentors, Teachers and Crushes, Part II

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. ~Kahlil Gibran

Where did you get that exercise from, Jen?  Did you make it up?

How do you know all this?

I get these question from my clients quite a bit.  Sometimes, I do make movements up, though I’m sure someone else thought of it long before I did.  Other times, I can point to where the exercise came from.  Usually, it came from or was inspired by one of mentors or someone whose work I admire.  Who are these people?

I’ll tell you a bit about the people who have profoundly influenced me in creating Spitfire Fitness Arts in this series of posts called Mentors, Teachers and Crushes.

  • Mentors– People that I trained under for many years and shaped who I am.
  • Teachers– I have taken courses from, learned from their work on me.
  • Crushes– I never met them, but their work heavily influenced or inspired my own work.

Part II-Teachers

Colette Yglesias Silver: Through theatrical movement classes at Studio Theatre, Collette taught me about posture and alignment in movement, not just sitting or standing upright. She also taught me about the qualities of movement.

Dr. Sean Woods: My chiropractor for 8 years, Dr. Sean helped me get to know each vertebra of my spine and how to perceive when they are out of alignment. This helps me understand clients’ injuries and health issues caused by spinal problems.

Paul Chek: When I first started as a trainer, I struggled with training program design. I took Paul Chek’s course on the subject and it was never a question again. I first came across the idea of primal movement patterns from Paul Chek. Probably, the most significant, albeit gross, understanding I gained from him is the relationship of intestine health to core engagement and development.  If you’re full of crap, your core muscles cannot move.

Polina Gregory: Co-Founder of Elements of Motion Resistance Training Studio, Polina Gregory is a Muscle Activation Technique Master Specialist and personal trainer. Polina taught me that muscle imbalances aren’t always about tightness or strength. Often it is about the communication between the muscle and the nervous system.  Polina’s passion to help her clients feel better reminds me of the importance of what fitness professionals have to give.

Chuck Wolf: The gold nugget that I got from Chuck Wolf is that the feet are important.  The feet are important but we take them for granted.  Through a series of exercises during a seminar, Mr. Wolf demonstrated that you can change what is going on in the knee, hip or anywhere else in the body by changing how we stand on our feet.  In essence, he reminded us that every part of the body is in relationship to every other part of the body.  With this knowledge, I could help a client figure out that her knee pain was actually a symptom of hip problems.

Megan Davis: I have taken a few workshops in yoga therapy from Megan Davis. She has a vast knowledge of anatomy and alignment in posture.  She gave me an even deeper understanding of the importance of healthy, stable feet.  Megan also teaches undergraduate philosophy and religion.

Shiva Rea: Shiva Rea is a rockstar in the yoga community.  I have taken a couple of her workshops and practiced some of her yoga videos.  I think I really like her because she looks like one of my favorite cousins and she surfs, but she certainly deserves her rockstar status. She has a deep understanding of yoga and our relationship to nature and the Universe.  I particularly appreciate the ebb and flow of her practice.

Pete Egoscue: Reading an article by Egoscue gave me a tool to give to clients to discover the source of their pain by tapping into their body’s innate wisdom.

Clifton Harski: I took a one-day MovNat workshop with Clifton in Spring 2011.  He has such a great sense of humor and fluid way of teaching that we were all a little sad that the day was over.  Didn’t matter that we were tired, wet and dirty from 7 hours of playing in woods and on the playground.  From Clifton, I got a good sense of the MovNat principles laid down by Founder, Erwan Le Corre, as well as a slew of fun things to do in the woods.

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Barefoot Running Consciousness

Since I’ve been on the Mississippi Gulf Coast these last few months, I’ve hardly worn any shoes. The only shoes I do wear are my Okabashi flip-flops.  The only time I wear them is when I have to walk on hot concrete and asphalt or go into a public spot, like a store or restaurant.  This morning it occurred to me how much more aware I am of where I place my feet since I’ve been barefoot so much.

I was out for one of my beach runs, but I was on a stretch of the beach I hadn’t run on before.  Some of the obstacles on this new stretch of beach were the same as on my usual stretch–dead marine animals, sharp bones, broken glass, reeds, the odd household item.  Other obstacles were different–holes made by marine birds going after something tasty hiding in the sand, shifty spots and miniature cliffs in the sand, remnants of sand castles annihilated by their creators.  I realized how running barefoot on a beach requires different levels of attention and proprioception. How profoundly does this impact the body?  Can it affect mental health as well?

I have to use my eyes to see what’s way ahead of me.  Am I heading toward the wet sand close to the water?  Am I in the tracks of one of the ATVs or trucks that prowl the beach?  What is that big object ahead?  Whatever it is, I need to go around it.

I also have to use my eyes to see what I am about to step on.  What’s a vinyl record album doing out here?  Right, Katrina.  Dead crabs, even the little ones, are sharp.  Fish vertebrae and bones are extremely sharp too.  Ok, don’t want to trip on that hole.  What lives in it? What if it comes out?  Seaweed, eeuuhh, slimy.

In between what my eyes see just in front of me and out in the distance is the changing landscape of sand textures.  Wet sand is more firm, except where’s really loose.  Dry sand is shifty, except where it’s packed down.  Some areas slant at large degrees toward the waves.  Other areas remain flat.  Based on visual perception of the upcoming surface, my body prepares to make the necessary adjustments to stabilize itself.

What my eyes miss, my feet certainly do not.  If am about to put my foot down on something potentially sharp, then my body shifts so I do not put the force of my full weight on it.  The message from foot to brain is so quite and my body’s reaction so involuntary that I only realize what happened afterward.

My feet capture the attention of my whole body. When I think I might step on something unpleasant my gut tightens and I move more slowly.  When I move through soft, cool sand, my shoulders relax and I move more playfully.

My run this morning has certainly peaked my curiosity.  I want to see if there is any research on barefoot running and its affect on brain function, proprioception, or even stress management. Maybe the experts speaking at the New York City Barefoot Run on September 24 would have some insight.

If you are curious but not up for a full-on barefoot run, try going without shoes and socks, as you walk around your home. Notice what you can sense with your feet.  How hard or soft is the surface?  What temperature is it?  Does it move as you put your weight on it?  Then notice if this changes your attitude or what you think about.

Leave a comment on what you discover below this post or on the Spitfire Facebook Page.  Tweet with hashtag #barefootspitfire, if you prefer.

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The Aha Moment

Have you given up on your training practice because it seems too hard?

Is there something you have been practicing for a long time but progress seems illusive?

Get back to it.  Keep at it.  Find support from a friend, teacher or coach.  Surprise awaits you.

The culmination of practice often brings results when you least expect.

I see this all the time with clients. After I show them a new exercise, I see the battle within their minds. They say, “You make that look so easy, but I’ll never get there.”

My reply is always, “I’ve been practicing this for a long time.”

We’re Building Something Here

When a client struggles with a new exercise, I break it down into steps or modify it. We break it down to build it back up with a strong foundation. The body often gains understanding of how to do a movement while the mind stays occupied with judgment and comparison. I believe that is why the Aha Moment seems to come out of nowhere.

In Combattitude, the Aha Moment comes up all the time. We practice and break down a movement, practice and break down, practice and break down. The mind quiets down because it can’t keep up. When we stop thinking and just move, the Aha Moment smacks us like a Dharma stick. We’ve got it and we’ll never lose it.

At age 17, I taught myself to do headstand by following the Sivananda Companion to Yoga. It was a lesson in patience. Without the book’s guidance, I would have practiced headstand throwing my legs up in the air and hoping they would just find a way to stay in the air.

The book specifically broke down the steps to getting into headstand with the instruction to practice each step for a period time before adding the next. It was to teach the body to build a strong foundation then align and stabilize the spine on top of that foundation.

It took months but the “Aha! I got it!” moment, when I actually held a headstand for over a minute, did come. It never left me. Those headstand lessons became so ingrained in my muscle memory that I can get into headstand as easily as I can get out of bed.

Break down what you are trying to accomplish into smaller steps or phases.  Repeat them until they become second nature.  Then put the pieces back together.

Same Lesson Years Later

I have spent time this summer building my handstand and forearm stand practice, just as I did my headstand those years ago. Coincidentally, my six-year-old nephew recruited me last night into helping him do handstands and headstands.

After each “failed” attempt at standing on his hands or head by throwing his legs in the air, he proclaimed, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard.” and angrily threw his arms down by his side or across his chest. Like his aunt, he wants to be brilliant the first time he tries anything.

Once the emotional storm blew over, I showed him the steps I learned to build the headstand.  I showed how to use the wall for handstand.  In playfully demonstrating a forearm stand, I found my legs hovering overhead without the support of the wall. Aha! I had never done that before and I’ve practiced quite a bit in the last year. What a pleasant surprise!  I got it because my mind had let go of expectations.  I was just goofing around.  Without the pressure of getting it right, my body was free to do what it had learned.

My nephew is well on his way to his Aha Moment with his headstand. The handstand is not far behind. In my opinion, he is quite a yogi in the making. I look forward to when his stance changes from arms down in defeat to arms up in victory.

If you have been working really hard to get something.  Put it away for a while.  Let it steep.  When you come back to it, just play.  You might surprise yourself.

  • What do you wish you could do but think is out of reach?
  • What are you working on but can’t quite get?
  • What do you wish you had help understanding how to do?

Leave a comment and let’s see what we can accomplish together.

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