Winter weight wait
With the holiday season approaching, let’s do a little rewind. Think back eleven months to remember if you were one of the many people out there who made what is likely the number-one New Year’s Revolution of all time: to lose weight. Next, think ahead to next month, at the daunting task of getting into shape after several weeks of missed workouts and general debauchery. Now, thank me for giving you a heads-up prior to all the festive madness and the possible damage.
Every January, media goes on autopilot generating the same batch of New Year fitness articles that many could write from rote memory. While some of these articles are written well by qualified professionals, this idea that fitness initiatives will succeed when the calendar year changes is extremely misguided. I’m writing this for two reasons: first, to open up your mind to the possibility of perhaps starting this important resolution one month early so as to be ahead of the race, and secondly, to help you understand that false starts are nothing to beat yourself over.
As wonderful as the thought of successfully applied ideals is, we have to first realize that a path to fitness is something that is achieved through our own inner clock and flow, not an external tracking of time. During my years studying fitness, health and personal training at the college level, I never heard anyone specifically state that everything we do in life, including the life patterns we exist in, has virtually everything to do with the mind. But our psychology dictates the decisions we make, and this also has a lot to do with our biochemistry – therefore, our motivation and the extent of our willpower.
There is something to be said for sticking with a fitness program through sheer discipline alone, but if it’s a struggle to fit it into your life, you may need a partial revamp of life itself. Your overall vitality depends on everything you do for the entire day, not just the couple of hours you exercise and eat. For example, if you are working ten hours a day and commuting another three hours, the chances of long-term success in a balanced fitness program are quite low. Taking steps to health involves, realistically for many of us, a gradual rebuild of your whole lifestyle in order to suit all your goals and priorities – not those of your boss.
This may seem discouraging, but I challenge any personal trainer out there to disprove this claim. To have a state of optimal health involves not only an exercise regimen, but mastering other factors, like the role of vitamins and minerals. The average student, for instance, will be hard-pressed to truly live an all-round balanced life in the midst of enormous pressures on their time and energy. Of course, varsity athletes often succeed at this, but mostly after having fit the requirements into a carefully-crafted routine, with sacrifices along the way and a strong support network – factors that eventually breed hard-earned success that leaves no doubt.
Though this sounds a bit bleak, this is the real reason why many New Year’s resolutions fail. An overwight body is seen as the sole problem instead of a symptom of larger imbalances.
But with that said, I believe that any attempt to exercise, move and be active should definitely be celebrated. Even two weeks of moderate activity brings more health benefits than most realize. Falling off the wagon should not be the focus, except as a springboard for renewed commitment. I “failed” many times years ago, before I ever had an inkling that life’s crazy path would one day find me studying fitness professionally.
As the holidays approach, those of you contemplating this goal should not be hard on yourselves for the slips. Where we need to apply this militant attitude, though, is in pushing ourselves to keep going and get better, because even personal trainers can hit slumps, but we can all strive to overcome them.