Reflect back to the day you bought your treadmill, joined your local gym, or purchased your new running shoes, or hand weights. Think about the desire, the passion, and the possibilities you felt when you made that purchase – however long ago. What went wrong? Why did you stop? Where were you and what were you doing the day you lost sight of your goals?
It is the New Year’s resolution which, more than any other mechanism, drives people to pursue their health and fitness goals. The new year is seen as fresh start; tabula rasa – a magic opportunity to commit or recommit one’s self to increased exercise and more sound eating choices year after year — after year — after year. Momentarily cleansing, but too often faltered and fruitless, and ultimately demoralizing.
It has been long accepted in the American psyche that each new year provides us a blank canvas on which to paint an image of redemption from goals not met, and opportunities squandered during the previous twelve months. It’s a sort of grown up do-over for each year we exit unfulfilled.
Perhaps because it is only a feel good illusion, the new year’s resolution also serves to push people further back into the dark hole of fitness complacency, more than any other mechanism. Like an emotional boomerang, the new year’s resolution is the throw of one’s unrealistic wishes, into the wind of one’s all but certain reality.
Consider this: that the term new year’s resolution is just a pseudonym for the word regret. We regret that which we have not had the discipline nor the fortitude to achieve or fulfill in the previous year. Within weeks of our commitment, and in the name of passivity, we are likely to forsake the hard hike up the trail toward what we desire, and walk the easier path of television reruns and comfort foods.
We extend these behaviors by a few days at a time after New Year’s Day, then by weeks and months, and ultimately the year slips by us like witchcraft in the wind, leaving us unfulfilled yet again. Then, upon the realization of all the potential which was left unfulfilled, we vow to do better in the coming year.
This breakdown notwithstanding, great successes more often arise from the deepest of adversity. Rarely does adversity come complete with a clean slate date stamped, January 1, at least not the adversities I have known.
New Year’s Day does provide a point from which we can take that first step into a better tomorrow, but so do August 3rd and February 12th. The New Year’s Day effort is usually followed by nary a second step, because it is the second step which takes work, and there is much less effort in making a resolution than in fulfilling one. A new year’s resolution it seems, is less a tangible quest and more a release of accumulated guilt.
In all of this, it is most tragic to me that those who make new year’s resolutions usually direct their intentions toward improved fitness and health. Though of sound intent, to relate things of such importance as one’s body and health to something so inconsequential and trivial as a new year’s resolution is to devalue the importance of a healthy and functional human body.
I’m not trying to suggest that we don’t make new years resolutions; they have their place. Not however, in relation to your fitness and not in proximity to your good health. Your body and your health deserve better. New year’s resolutions should promote things which will not lower your self-esteem or devastate your psyche when they are left unfulfilled.
With every stretch of the arm to withdraw a healthy food from the pantry, with each passing of the sofa and television enroute to do your exercise, with every glance at “lighter fare” section of a restaurant menu, you should resolve to do what you know to be right – and you do know what is right, 365.
I have known many fitness successes through the years, and I’m proud to have aided in more than a few. No fitness success story that I am familiar with was date stamped January, 1st. The best fitness accomplishments I have seen unfold before me have all been the result of a strong will, a truckload of effort, and a blazing desire to begin making changes on June 26th, just as much as on January 1st.
Your body deserves better than to be a new year’s resolution. Your personal health and aesthetic fitness are worthy of an ongoing resolution; a daily affirmation and commitment to good health and fitness which should be resolved with each moment that thoughts of these cross your mind. Be wll. rc