Every year millions of people resolve to make changes in the "New Year." Healthy eating establishments become flooded, gyms become packed, and those in the health and wellness industry, including companies like ours, experience a "bump" in sales. As is often the case, I neither fall in the camp of believing in New Years resolutions, not am I outright cynical in the entire notion. January 1st is as good of a time as any to start changing habits, and a "New Year" is a psychological excuse to make a change.
Often people change too much, too quickly. They significantly restrict their diets and start exercise programs that leave them exhausted and run down. Rather than easing into change, they charge towards their new desired life and self image full force and end up quitting in short order. Extreme dietary changes and restrictions only work for a small percentage of people, especially if the changes are made abruptly. Intensive exercise programs tend to not be sustainable for those in optimal physical condition.
For those who rush into exercising and overdo it, the health consequences can be disastrous. Over training, especially for those with low fitness, can worsen health. It can also negatively impact sleep, leading to even worsening health and recovery, and creating a perfect storm to make poor dietary choices. Ironically, those trying to make the biggest changes, the fastest, may end up worse off than when they began.
In other scenarios, "newbies" to fitness may become disheartened by entering fitness centers they feel out of place, discouraged by looking at those around the,. Unrealistic expectations of dramatic change and improvement with only slow and modest results realized, may serve to destroy all motivation to keep on a program. Changing who you are regarding health, fitness and self image isn't something that can happen abruptly, it is a long journey that takes time.
The New Year gets people thinking about change. Even if they ways in which most who resolve to change in the New Year are ineffective, they are primed to adjust and try something. Complacency is one of the most disastrous states of mind we can fall into, and the over the top obnoxious advertising for those looking to capitalize on "New Years Resolutions" can potentially jar those oblivious to their poor situations into a state of desire for self improvement. This realization is not a bad thing, it is the method in which it is sought that can be problematic.
This New Year, and every day, seek out the small victories. Walk a bit more, eat one less candy bar or drink one less sugary beverage. Ensure you get enough sleep, and start and maintain a sustainable long-term exercise program, as well as a diet rich in nutrients. Resist those individuals and companies promising miracles from a fad diet, find the diet that YOU fell good on. Remember, there is no one diet for everyone. The diet we will individually feel the best on is influenced by our genetic make-up, our microbiota, and our level of activity.
Getting started can be difficult. Changing your life can feel like moving a massive boulder, a boulder far too heavy to push. If you run at the boulder full force, no matter how hard you push you will exhaust yourself or bounce off. Getting momentum with your health is often the same as trying to move this boulder. Sheer determination often won't do it, but smart planning and creative solutions can get things started. Just like our predecessors who figured out that using leverage, changing the ground around a heavy object and many other tricks could lead to moving objects far beyond our physical strength, aiming for these small victories slowly changes the direction of your health. Once the boulder starts to move, its' own inertia does the rest of the work. Likewise, once victories start to amass on our health it typically becomes a lifestyle, and a passion. The faster the boulder is moving, ther harder it is to slow it down. The better you feel, the healthier you are, the harder it is to know you off a healthy routine.
Aim small, let the small wins pile up.
Happy New Year
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