Strict Press 2-2-2-2-2
10 Front Squats (165/115)
It’s common to make fun of New Year’s resolutions as nothing but a meaningless tradition – starting a new diet in January only to quit after a month is almost a cliché. If something is important enough to change, why not change it immediately, instead of waiting for some arbitrary date? These are certainly legitimate criticisms, but on the other hand, many people see January 1 as a “fresh start,” that one final push they need to make a significant lifestyle change. Others like the social aspect – self-improvement is more fun with a group, even if it’s just a group of friends commiserating about how hard it is to keep their resolutions.
Friends Don’t Let Friends make Bad Resolutions
Every regular gym-goer knows the “January Joiners.” These are the people who swear to “get in shape” on December 31, and then buy a gym membership full of good intentions. On January 1st, they arrive at the door with their brand new running shoes and earnestly set to work burning off the holiday season’s indulgences on the elliptical machine. They come for two weeks, maybe three – and then disappear back to the couch.
Joining a gym and then quitting can have several different reasons, but a huge number of people fall into this trap every year for the same reason: they make bad resolutions. Bad resolutions are very vague (“I want to lose some weight”), absurdly overambitious (“I want to run a marathon in February” – from an overweight diabetic recovering from knee surgery), and have no specific plan attached to them (“I want to eat healthy”). Bad resolutions are things you think you ought to change, not things you really want (“my mother says I should stop smoking, so I guess that’s my resolution”). Bad resolutions usually travel in packs (“I want to save money and eat right and get in shape and learn Japanese…”). Bad resolutions are all but impossible to keep – so don’t make them!
Good resolutions, in contrast, have several distinctive characteristics, no matter what they’re about. Whether you’re resolving to read more books or lose your spare tire, good resolutions have several things in common.
Your New Year’s resolutions aren’t about what your mom, or your grandmother, or your husband wants from you. If your resolutions all start with “I should,” chances are you’re feeling outside pressure to do something – you know you ought to do it even if you don’t want to, so you make a resolution and hope it sticks.
Unfortunately, it probably won’t stick. Making positive lifestyle changes is very hard, and involves fighting through a lot of challenges. Keeping your resolution on January 1 might be easy – it’s new and exciting, and you’re all fired up to change yourself. That’s great! Keeping your resolution on February 1 isn’t going to be that effortless. By then, you’ve lost that initial enthusiasm – you’re back on you’re your regular schedule after the holidays and realizing exactly how much effort is involved in sticking this out for the long haul. If you have no intrinsic motivation to keep to your resolution, this is when it will fall by the wayside because you “just don’t have time” or “can’t afford it,” or simply stop caring. You never really wanted it in the first place, so your drive to follow through falls apart at the first sign of a serious obstacle.
This isn’t a sign that you’re weak or lazy. It’s nothing but an illustration of basic human psychology – you can’t commit yourself to someone else’s goals. To avoid this trap, make sure that your resolutions are coming from you. Do you want it, or are you just doing it to make someone else happy? Do you care? Do you feel an inner drive to follow through? Why? Post notes or pictures in strategic places to remind you of your motivation at key moments. For example, if you really want to get your spending on track so you can save for a really fantastic summer trip, try taping a picture of your destination to your credit card, so every time you pull it out, you’re reminded of why you need to use it carefully.
If you have a vague, shapeless resolution, it’s completely natural to start watering down your initial commitment, or justifying yourself for scaling back your effort. If your resolution is “I want to exercise more,” it’s easy to talk yourself into believing that cleaning the house counts as a workout so you don’t need to head to the gym. It’s easy to exercise on Monday and then leave it for the rest of the week (after all, you are exercising more, and you never specified how much more!). If your resolution is, “I will go to the gym 4 times a week” or “I will run at least 20 miles per week,” it’s much more difficult to make excuses for yourself. This keeps you accountable to your goal.
Specific goals also make it possible to track your progress accurately. Unless you have a quantifiable goal, how will you know when you’ve succeeded? How will you hold yourself accountable for “eating better” if you don’t have a specific diet plan that you’re trying to follow? Your resolution should almost certainly have some kind of number in it. As you work toward accomplishing the resolution, keep a written record of your progress toward that number (pounds lost, miles run, days worked out, etc.). This is not only a useful tool, it helps keep you encouraged it you have one bad day, because looking back at the long record of your achievements can really put a setback into perspective.
The end of December is a bizarre time of year. So many people are busily stuffing themselves with all the cake and candy they can manage, while making heartfelt plans to completely overhaul their diet and exercise routines as soon as January 1 rolls around. Paleo holidays don’t have to include the traditional sugar-fest, of course, but many people still like to join in the tradition of resolution-making.