Have you ever started a New Years resolution just to watch your motivation - and your plan - fade away a few weeks into the year? If you have, we feel you. Big changes are tough. If you haven't, well I'll be the first to tell you we see it quite a bit. In the fitness industry we even have a term for it - Resolutioners. The trove of people that sign up for a gym membership, and even come to the gym for a number of weeks, only to fall off and never seen again by spring time.
Today I want to break down why this happens - why people are motivated come the New Year, why they can stick to it for a few weeks, but then why they ultimately fall off a few weeks or months into the year. I also want to give some alternative strategies so that you can make a change that lasts for the long-term. Because you don't want to make a change for a few weeks right? That's not your motive here. You want to make a change that will give you the health, the fitness, the body that you've always dreamed of. Let's dig in.
Let's start before the New Year even hits. You know you need to make a change. You WANT to make a change. You are committed to joining a gym and are excited to start.
- The most important thing here is that people have a misconception of what needs to happen to make a change. People think that once the clock strikes 12:00am on New Years Day that they are a new person all of a sudden. Understand that this is the furthest thing from the truth. The only difference is that you have motivation now. But you are still the same person with the same habits and same tendencies as the day before.
Now that we understand that we aren't some new magical person, we need to understand why people fall off a few weeks in to their resolution. It has to do with the perception of what they can handle. The reality is most of us can't handle as much habit change as we think.
- Leading up to a new year, a lot of "resolutioners" tend to be inactive and don't have the best dietary habits. Some have never had any healthy habits, and some decided to stop them knowing they'd pick the healthy habits back up again in the new year. Sound familiar?
Now let me ask you a question. If someone is starting at a point of no exercise and no dietary plan, how much of a change is realistic for them to be able to adopt? Do you think they can go from zero activity to working out every day? No diet plan to eating perfectly healthy?
- You're probably thinking what I'm about to say... they probably can't handle much of a change. And that's the biggest problem with resolutioners. Their heart is in the right place. They have the motivation to do it this time. They just aren't smart about it. Habit change takes time and requires small incremental improvements over time. Yes, a select few can make a big change and commit to it and make it last. But that's not the majority.
So when it comes to making a lasting resolution, we need to change our mindset about it. It's not about making every change we need all at once. That's way too overwhelming and way too daunting. That's why after a few weeks of going to the gym every day and eating healthy we see such a big fall off. People can't keep up with such a drastic change. It becomes too much to handle. And they fall off and give up.
- So how do we go about making a change that will last? We just focus on the smallest change possible. Once positive step forward. Over time we will compound on this one small change. so in months or maybe even years down the road you will have finally made all the changes you need to. But not today. Not right now. Not if you're starting from scratch. We need to prioritize ONE thing and build that habit.
Maybe the smallest habit change for you is committing to going on a walk every afternoon or maybe it's going to the gym 3 times per week. Maybe its having one more glass of water per day or eliminating one soda per day. Maybe it's bringing a lunch to work 3 times per week instead of going out every day.
We need to start with the smallest change that you can make that isn't too daunting or overwhelming - something you can do for the rest of your life without stressing about and without throwing everything else out of whack.
Once that smallest change feels normal you can start to layer in another change. That's how we make a resolution last. That's how we make it turn into a long-term change.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if this resonated with you! We'd love to help you with any resolution or habit trouble you've been having.
PS, please share this with any friends you think this may help!