There is no date I hate going to the gym more than January 2nd.
On January 2nd, the treadmills are packed, the locker rooms are filthy, and the weights are scattered haphazardly around the benches.
On January 2nd, I can’t find a parking spot, and might even have to stand in line to swipe my membership card.
On January 2nd, hoards of over eager, New Year’s “Resolutionists” cram into fitness centers around the country in their new trainers and matching track suits and new running tights and simultaneously begin the agonizing process of making bodies that haven’t moved in 11 months start to move again.
By January 28th, most of them are gone! January 28th is a much better day to go to the gym.
I had a slightly different experience at the gym this new year. Having joined a much smaller, local gym and gotten rid of my large fitness center membership, I was curious whether there’d be the same kind of boom as the new year rolled over. Instead, the crowd that I work out with (and crowd, here, is a general term I use liberally to apply to about five people) after work and on the occasional Saturday morning has remained largely the same. On January 2nd, we all trundled back to our normal spots, wished each other Happy 2020, and got back to the business of running, lifting, and sweating under the same roof as normal.
The different vibe definitely caught my attention, and made me think about how awful it actually must be for everyone at those big, bustling fitness centers January 2nd. I mean, the regulars are vexed by the new influx of people, but those new people are also quickly vexed by the fact that big, busy, bustling, overcrowded fitness centers are highly intimidating places to launch a brand new fitness journey…despite their newly found new year’s resolve.
That, and the fact that working out, especially when you haven’t worked out, is just hard, and it’s no wonder that it’s estimated close to 75% of people have abandoned their resolutions after just 30 days.
So, we’re nearly 30 days into 2020. How’s your resolution going? Fitness or otherwise it’s been a few weeks, you should have a body of work to consider in relation to your resolution. What’s it tell you?
My own resolution was not about fitness. It was about social media. And I’ve quit social media now for 28 days, and a funny thing is happening. My resolution was to step back from all social media for the month of January, and as the end of January has neared I’ve started thinking about…going back to social media!
As it turns out, from the internal conflict this has stirred up in me, what I was really hoping for in those last 28 days was to develop an attitude that I didn’t want or need to go back to social media. Apparently 28 days isn’t enough to fully cultivate that mindset.
The book that spurred this resolution, “Digital Minimalism,” does not, consequently, suggest not going back to social media after the month away from it. Instead, it makes the argument that when you return it should be in a manner that supports and optimizes your values and priorities.
So it’s may not inherently be bad that I’m thinking about how to return to social media, provided that I return in a way that maximizes my energy and passions. Truthfully, however, I’m not sure that reintroducing it into my day won’t potentially tempt me towards the same habits that drove me to leave it in the first place.
And it’s in this that I also see the conundrum that drives people from the gym 30 days into their membership. Because after 30 days you may have made progress…but you’ve also probably realized that progress is slow. And after 30 days you may have developed a habit…but you also probably realized that habits are only as good as the people who keep them.
I recently had a friend tell me she had made a resolution to stop drinking Diet Coke in 2020, and because she made it three whole weeks without drinking Diet Coke, she rewarded herself with a Diet Coke. That, in turn, made her feel like she was starting all over again with her resolution because she remembered how much she liked Diet Coke, and she had “relapsed” into having two or three a day again.
The thing about resolutions is while it seems like a good idea to go to the gym three times a week, or give up social media for 30 days, there’s a big difference between 30 days and FOREVER. And the gym three times a week might sound good in a small dose when your schedule is wide open, but it becomes a different beast when you think of going to the gym three times a week every week of the month…the year…or your life!
Whether or not you’re still plying at your resolution, or you got off track early in the month and never came back to it…whether you set a resolution with the best of intentions January 1st, or you didn’t set one at all…it’s the NEXT 30 days that pose a bigger challenge than the LAST 30 days. And it will be what happens in the NEXT 30 days that will mark your progress and resolve more than the LAST 30 days.
So what can you do for the next 30 days to keep (or restore) your resolve? Be it fitness, social media, or something else, these things might help give your resolution the boost it needs!
- Redefine your resolution: Some things are really broad: “Get fit!” Defining what that behavior, habit or outcome look like can help you get after a specific goal.
- Get honest and realistic: Stop drinking Diet Coke was a good resolution for my friend, but it also set her up to crash and fail after one indulgence. A better resolution might be three Diet Cokes a week, or maybe only drinking Diet Coke on the weekends. Get honest with yourself about what is important, and be realistic about what success looks like.
- Find a buddy: It’s hard to strike out on your own. Find a friend to be an accountability partner. Or, be your own buddy and keep a tracker on your phone, bedside table, refrigerator, or bathroom mirror.
- Recommit: Sometimes getting back on track is as simple as reaffirming that the resolution is still important to us. If it’s been a few weeks since you’ve used that new gym membership, recommit to going in February. If you’ve fallen off your respective resolution wagon, catch back up, and try hopping back on with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.
So…how’s your New Year’s Resolution going?