I have worked at a gym for over two years now, and throughout my experience, one constant has remained above all others within the brown and gray walls of Prairie Life Fitness. Every January, without fail, dozens of well-meaning people from all age groups, backgrounds and demographics drag themselves to the gym with the mantra “New Year, New Me” spinning around in their heads like an endless rolodex of hope and naivety.
Even as an avid gym goer, a health-conscious nerd and a wellness columnist, I too am feeling the pull of a New Year’s resolution, in response to the bloat of a heavy holiday season full of pie, gravy, stuffing and enough unnecessary peppermint mochas to give the Starbucks mermaid a heart attack.
As the weighty effects of holiday indulgences begin to trail behind me and dozens of others, so does the childlike hopefulness of a New Year's resolution, in which getting in shape takes center stage.
Unfortunately, many of these earnest goals never see the light of the following year. In fact, according to an article published by U.S. News, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions will have failed by Valentine’s Day, leaving many, myself included, lost in a pile of personal disappointment and empty hope of next year being the year it sticks.
I can attest to the fact that the most important part of getting back on track is simply specified goal setting. Just saying “I want to get in shape” is vague and exceptionally easy to let slip through the cracks. Instead, saying, “I want to run a marathon” or “I want to go down three dress sizes,” are much more specific goals that utilize an outside source of accountability.
For me, measurements are my go-to. They can be wonderful tools not only for accountability but also for progress tracking. Motivation is the currency of success, and when we continuously have something to strive for, the small instant gratifications of a cheat meal on an unplanned day or a gym day skip are less desirable.
Another strategy to kick holiday remorse is to apply a short-term detox to your daily dietary habits. Due to bad marketing, such as “the juice cleanse” or “fat-torching detox tea,” the word “detox” may conjure hellish visions of stringent short-term diets that lead to stomach discomfort or overtly easy and flowery cleanses that promise amazing results.
In reality, a detox can be everything from a daily pill supplement to cutting out a part of the diet altogether. Removing sugar, dairy or certain fats and carbs for a week can be the perfect jump-start needed to propel a person forward into the new year.
While short-term detoxes, goal setting and motivation are useful tools to achieving a New Year’s goal, I genuinely believe the most important part of not just health and wellness, but any goal, lies within one’s own mindset.
I have personally discovered that the most important part of any kind of health-related goal depends on perspective. Diets should not be diets; they should be lifestyle changes. Workouts should not have to be torturous hours at a gym you hate, but an opportunity to allow the body freedom of movement. And most importantly, goals should not be created to placate self-imposed guilt, but instead should be aspirations and opportunities to become a better version of oneself.
As the good, the bad and the ugly of the past year come to a close, the bright possibilities of 2019 begin. With the right mindset, motivation and a few nutritional tricks up the sleeve, anyone can achieve the goals they set for themselves, no matter how lofty.