The Annual Fitness Ritual
There is an annual ritual that takes place every time the calendar makes the impending transition from one year to the next, that
of making resolutions and setting goals for practicing healthier behaviors in the new year. It’s almost certain that the calendar will flip from December to January, however what is not guaranteed is whether you will live up to those resolutions, no matter how well-meaning, and actually follow through on your fitness goals for the new year.
Admit it, how many times have you experienced this scenario:
You make a firm commitment to doing things differently.
You start following an exercise program and are actually enjoying it.
Then a speed-bump happens, a work project that requires extra time results in a missed workout. Or, a kid (or spouse) gets sick and requires extra energy.
Whatever the issue, the fact is that life happens and the result is a mindset where it’s easier to avoid exercising instead of admitting failure of a missed workout and having to start again.
Exercise During a Pandemic
The current pandemic situation adds an extra wrinkle. When you have to go to a gym, health club or studio for a workout, you are going for a specific reason, you have a purpose for going to that third place (third place = not home or not work). When life has you both working from and working out in the same location, it can become easier to be distracted.
One thing I did early in the pandemic was to cut the cord and end my cable subscription; partly because all of those extra channels are a distraction and partly to save a few bucks. I still pay for Netflix, Prime, Disney Plus and ESPN+ which, along with YouTube, provide plenty of viewing options, however I find that I am not turning on the TV and mindlessly flipping channels which does resolve that distraction, now I just need to do something about mindlessly scrolling Insta…
Anyways, I digress…
Make Intentions, NOT Resolutions
If you’ve ever failed to follow through on a new year’s resolution to practice healthier behaviors, like exercise, then it might be worth considering the use of the word resolution itself.
According to OxfordDictionary.com resolution means: “A firm decision to do or not to do something. Or the action of solving a problem or contentious matter.”
Over the course of my more than two decades working in the fitness biz, I have seen many people start January with a resolute commitment to do more exercise, however as soon as there was a minor deviation in plans it was easy to scrap the whole program and stop. Or simply find something that is more entertaining or enjoyable than sweating.
As it turns out there may be some psychology involved; resolving to exercise every day of the week yet skipping a day, for whatever reason, creates the perception of failure as a result of that one absence. That feeling of failure from skipping a single workout could lead to the feeling of ‘why bother’ with the end result being giving up on the exercise program.
If there’s one thing we should have learned from life in 2020 it’s that we need to be adaptable and amenable to change. This means that instead of setting firm resolutions for our healthy behaviors, we should create intentions.
Having an intention is a different mindset; according to OxfordDictionary.com an intention is, “A thing intended; an aim or plan.” When someone has an intention it is a plan that could happen as opposed to a resolution which is a plan that has to happen.
Set YOUR Intentions:
If you intend to exercise and it happens, then you will feel successful! On the other hand, if the workout doesn’t happen then it means there is a chance to try better tomorrow as opposed to feeling like a failure for not following through on a commitment.
The following is a list of suggested intentions, it is by no means exhaustive, but should give you an idea of the types of intentions that can help you to establish an approach to exercise that results in it becoming a long-term habit:
- Create a dedicated space at home to exercise; this could be the living room floor, a spare bedroom or the garage. If you have a dedicate space, you are more likely to do it.
The basics for setting up a workout space at home
- Try to get a friend to join you – whether live or via a video platform. Exercise can be more fun with a friend, plus there is someone to hold you accountable.
- Take at least two group exercise classes per week; there are a variety of streaming platforms that allow you to sweat from the comfort, convenience and safety of home.
- Take at least one yoga class per week and do at least one high-intensity workout per week.
- Stand at least once every hour during the day.
- Take at least one 15-minute walk every day.
- Get better sleep by improving sleep hygiene, at the very least try to get an extra 30 minutes a night.
- Try at least one new mode of exercise: TRX, kettlebell, Barre, indoor cycling or Pilates.
- Do food preparation on Sunday in order to have healthy options for the week.
- Drink more water while drinking less soda (or alcohol or coffee).
The above list all are plans to practice healthier behavior. Think about that, if you don’t achieve everything on the list then it’s not that you failed a commitment, it’s that you didn’t accomplish all of your plans. When working from a list of intentions you can congratulate yourself for achieving certain plans on the list which helps to establish a mindset of success which is the first step for achieving long-term success for any goal.
One of my Intentions for 2021 is to record videos of All About Fitness podcasts for the All About Fitness Podcast channel on YouTube!
Watch the video for some other tips on setting your goals and to hear my personal fitness goals for the year.
Once you decide what you want to do, add them to the comments on the video or send them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re all in this together, let me help you reach your goals for 2021!
Learn how to design workout programs!
To design your own workout programs, either READ THIS BLOG, or let me teach you the science of how to design workout programs with either the Functional Core Training e-book (only $7) or Smarter Workouts: The Science of Exercise Made Simple