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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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.

Q&A: Thoughts on Crossfit

Today’s question comes from Michael on Facebook.

Question:

What do you think about Crossfit?

Answer:

Crossfit can be very valuable, as long as function and safety are the main objectives of the Crossfit organization you train with. It is fun and challenging.  It’s popularity continues to grow as both a fitness program and a sport. ESPN 2 just broadcast the Crossfit Games in September.

According to Crossfit Founder, Greg Glassman’s “Foundations” in the Crossfit Journal:

“CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. We have designed our program to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.”

The signature of Crossfit is the WOD (Workout of the Day).  A Crossfit WOD incorporates a few or many of what Glassman calls “fitness domains.” This challenges the body to adapt, as it shifts from one to the next. You might go from squats to overhead press to sprints to ab work to gymnastics.

Crossfit is designed to be scalable to any fitness level. For anyone, who is curious about it, I would recommend trying it. Just do some research about the organization and the instructors/trainers. There are many exercises in Crossfit that can cause injury, if either the participant or the instructor takes safety for granted.

Know and understand for yourself the function and purpose of each movement and exercise. If you do not understand why you are doing something, ask! Make sure you and your instructor know the body mechanics and intention of what you are doing.

I enjoy jumping into a Crossfit workout from time to time. It challenges my body and shakes the cobwebs out of my brain. I have learned quite a bit about Olympic style lifting from my Crossfit experience.

Crossfit is great for women, especially if your trainer understands how to adapt movements to the female body.  You get strong and lean.  Your confidence grows as you continue to top your own personal record.  There is also a strong sense of community in Crossfit organizations.

For more information, a list of Crossfit affliates and video demos of WOD, visit the Crossfit website.

For folks in DC- I love the good people at Crossfit DC and Crossfit BalancePrimal Fitness also has a great reputation.

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