Posted by Dean M. Cole

New Year’s Resolution Slippage?

Fitness, Dieting & Writing Tips.

We’re two months into the New Year. How’s your resolve? Have you stuck with your potentially intoxicated December 31st 11:59PM resolution to do better in X, Y, or Z?

Most of us set fitness goals. January and February gym attendance will attest to that fact. Over the years I’ve watched the ebb and flow of the seasons as marked by said attendance of the New Year’s Resolutioneers, or lack thereof come the third month of the year.

By March—the time of the year when the gym’s switch from trying to woo you to trying to sue you—most people have fallen to the wayside. They either loose interest or just get too busy. Either way, I believe the main reason is because they never established good habits and haven’t achieved the results they’d hoped for.

In this blog I’d like to pass on a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years as my fitness goals have waxed and waned.

  • Habits are slow to catch on and easy to break (unless we’re talking crack or nicotine.) It typically takes twenty-one days to mentally transition a chore into a habit. And in my experience less than a week to reverse the process.

So first, in able to make something a habit you have to deliberately set aside time for it on a daily basis, yes that’s seven days a week for at least the first twenty-one days. Even if it’s just thirty minutes. I use this technique to establish habits for everything from writing to working out. (Note to self: better start twenty-one days of blogging.)

After that initial twenty-one day period you’ll find yourself automatically making time for your designated activity. You’ve burned the habit into your neural pathways. It starts to feel ‘wrong’ if you’re not doing your activity on a regular basis. Now you can shift to doing said activity on a normal schedule.

  • Avoid long breaks! Remember my earlier note; if you go more than seven days without doing your ‘thing’, you’ll break the habit (still not talking crack or nicotine.)

If you find yourself in an unavoidable scheduling conflict, ie: extended travel, then form a mental substitution. Write notes on a notepad, or for the fitness regime, do some sit-ups and pushups in your hotel room.

  • “You have to measure what you want to improve.” As your old high school coach used to chant (and you’ve heard it at every business seminar you’ve ever attended.) If you want to improve something you have to measure it.

That goes for everything from waistline to calorie-count to page/word count. How do you know you’re improving if you don’t know how much you did or how much you lost?

Like me you probably think, I know how much I ate/wrote/worked out/lost. But as I found out the hard way, the subconscious is very good at deluding you. One only need use a calorie tracker for a couple of days to figure that one out. When I first started dieting I would use some good practices, ie: not eating empty calories, avoiding processed sugar and excess fat. I kept my portions in check too. But I was treading water. After a couple of months I hadn’t lost any significant weight (and I had a good twenty or thirty pounds to loose—happily married weight.) I was treading water.

When I started counting calories—measuring­—I discovered I was still overeating. By the end of the first day the list of food FAR exceeded my perception of what I had consumed throughout the day.

So I made counting calories a habit (see 21 days above.) Three months and 25 pounds later my measuring habit has paid off.

So hang in there. You can do it, and it does get easier as it becomes a habit. (Whatever it is for you.)

Good luck!