Stop with the 1% - Focus on the other 99%
As I was driving to work this morning, I heard on the radio that January 17 is the day that New Year’s resolutions typically fail. Wow, ya’ll. That’s barely over two weeks into a new year. What the heck people!?
And then I started thinking about it. To be honest, it makes sense. New Year’s resolutions have a way of creating an all-or-nothing atmosphere. Most people start off a new year with this incredible passion to “do things right” and immediately jump into it with gusto. That’s great - I love some good motivation. But then what happens? As the week (or weeks) go on, do you find that you lose that gusto when you don’t see immediate results? Do you find yourself becoming overwhelmed at the challenge of a different or varying lifestyle? Do you just slink back into your normal habits and routines because that just seems easier?
All of these are reasons that we only make it two weeks into a new year before giving up. It’s fairly obvious that we focus too much on the little things - being “perfect”, nailing our macros, hitting every workout hard- that we don’t acknowledge the bigger things. Making a lifestyle change is so much more than a number on the scale or a faster mile. Changing your health represents a variety of factors that extend past these superficial indicators to your sleep, your mental wellbeing and your body’s ability to recover. If these things aren’t in check - meaning that your body isn’t healthy and happy - then the change that we so desperately want to see isn’t going to happen. And when change isn’t immediate, we get so discouraged.
How is your sleep quality?
I’m such a big proponent of getting really good sleep. Aside from all other things, getting a good night’s sleep leaves you well-rested and able to take on the day. So much of your body’s ability to regulate hormones is done while you’re sleeping that you would be foolish to not make this a focal point of your health change. If you’re not sleeping well, you’re simply not going to have the energy needed to perform at your best, regardless of whether this is in the gym or at work. You need to focus on getting 8-10 hours a sleep a night. Can’t do that? Try again. Yes, you can. If you need to, set an alarm to tell yourself to go to bed.
Feel like you need additional help? Don’t immediately reach for the sleeping pills! Shut off the television. Put down your phone. All of these electronics wire our brain to keep thinking, keep processing. Find a book that you enjoy to read and relax at bedtime. Take a long bath or shower to unwind. Creating a sleep hygiene routine is one of the best things that you can do to ensure that you get to bed and fall asleep.
Are you getting everything your body needs in your diet?
Please. New year means new you, right? Does that mean finally losing some of the weight that you’ve been wanting to? Well, a “New Year, New You” mentality does not start with starving yourself. You have to eat enough. You cannot and will not reach your goals by chronically under eating. As much as chronically under sleeping will wreck havoc on your hormones, under eating has the exact same effect, especially on your thyroid! And, even worse, your thyroid is the main center for your entire metabolism, so best not to throw that little guy off!
And another thing - there is NO magic pill. While I do suggest some additional vitamin supplementation, ingesting random “fat burners” or “weight loss drugs” will not help. Many of these are simply full of incredibly high (and potentially unsafe!) levels of caffeine that jack up your heart rate to no end. Focus on hitting the macros that are specific to your body. Focus on getting in whole foods, whole grains. You need fiber. You need carbs. You need fat in your diet. If you’re struggling to a) lose weight or b) have enough energy in the gym, the very next thing is making sure that you are eating enough to support these goals. Almost every client that I come across is eating too few calories and not focusing on the important food groups.
Are you active daily?
This is a big one that I feel like people miss. Health and wellness is the big picture. You need to be active every day; you can’t simply diet your way into oblivion or work out for one hard hour and then remain sedentary for the remaining 23. If you have a fitness tracker, how many steps are you getting in each day? Do you take the stairs or the elevator at work? These are such little things, but they represent a much bigger picture. If you’re not willing to make minor tweaks here, how might you expect to see changes in your workouts? Focus on getting at least 10k steps a day. Bonus if you’re getting in your daily flights of stairs as well! Instead of sitting on your couch listening to a podcast, go for a walk! Already do that, take your dog on a longer walk today. The little things add up!
Are you taking time for self-care? Are you focusing on yourself?
As much as it’s important to be active, it’s important to recover! Even though it’s so exciting to be on a positive roll, all of this can be derailed by inadequate recovery. Self-care is probably the most underrated of all of my fitness tips. Everyone focuses on their workouts, macros, cardio time in the gym, but they don’t give proper credit to their self-care.
I highly encourage everyone to be getting frequent massages. I’m a big proponent of sports massage. (If I want a relaxing one, I head to Hiatus Spa. If I want a tailored, specific sports massage, I head to RunLab!) If you’re frequently stressed, spend some time with a gratitude journal. If you’re having trouble sleeping, shut off the television and open a new book. Letting yourself decompress from the day is incredibly important to your own personal self-care. Each one of us has a different routine that helps us relax, but dedicating one day per week to your interests and relaxation will make a world of difference in how you approach your week - including diet and exercise!
And lastly, are you focusing on yourself? Comparison is the thief of joy. Unfortunately, if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, you’re going to find that you are never satisfied. No one’s life is perfect, even if they present themselves that way on social media. The same goes for workouts, diets, or their personal life. While friends and coworkers can be a motivating asset in a new way of life, ultimately any change that happens needs to come from within. So, focusing on the changes that you need to make will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or inadequate by others!
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