The Stigma of New Years

4 January 2016

The fanaticism and amazement that is the holiday season, came and went in a flurry of brightly colored ornaments and pine scented candles. In all the chaos, you managed to drink more champagne than a person should and missed the gym more than you care to admit. “It’s ok” you tell yourself, “New year, new me.” You see the hashtags on instagram, more than 158,000 as of this writing. More than a kitschy phrase on social media, 45% of adults make resolutions every new calendar year -- as if the passing of midnight on December 31st opens some magic portal that will all but guarantee that whatever you tell yourself to accomplish, it will happen.

I’ve got a bit of bad news, 1 in 3 people will ultimately give up on those resolutions by the end of January. It gets worse as the days pass and seasons change ultimately leaving just a measly 27% that actually accomplish their goal. Even with all these horrible statistics, we still write down our cute, neatly outlined and detailed list of things we want to get done. “This will be the year”, we say, naively.

The biggest goal that people seem to have and strive towards is fitness: 66% of people say that being more active, weight loss or better eating is at the top of their resolution list. Having been in the fitness industry for over 6 years, I have seen people cross through gym doors in January with eyes so wide and eager that it kind of concerns me that they might have taken ecstasy. They are usually wearing brand new, bright florescent gym gear, with the creases still visible. In their hands, a protein/carb drink mixed at home in their brand new blender, that still smells of new plastic. I can’t help but shake my head because I know that in February, they won’t be there, the clothes will go to charity and the blender will disappear on a shelf and rest peacefully in some appliance graveyard.

Why does this happen? Why are we so prone to failure? The media and statistic websites tell us that we more than likely wont succeed, so why do we continue put ourselves out there to be ultimately disappointed? The New Year is truly looked at as such. A fresh slate, your are starting from scratch. Every time you mess up and write “2015” on a check or form, its a reminder that we are in a new time. Things can possibly change. But they don’t. What can we do to change that?

  1. Set SMART goals: People can be vague. We create open-ended goals that are often left with so much to be inferred, implied or otherwise overlooked. Goals that are so vague that we don’t even really know what we want to accomplish. Take “[I want to] get fit” for example. Who decides what is fitter? What guidelines are we basing it off of? Or “eat better.” That could mean a number of things. Eat more? Eat less? Better quality? I think a grease soaked cheeseburger tastes better than a cup of steamed broccoli, but I wouldn't go running to a burger joint all through the month of January exclaiming “I’m eating better!” SMART is a catchy little acronym that has firmly rooted itself in my daily vocabulary.

    The goals you set must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. Let's get specific: Fitter is vague, as we covered. Losing 10 pounds is a good goal, especially if we have a little excess bodyweight. How do we measure that? Simple, we step on a bathroom scale once or twice a month. Is this attainable? Absolutely. Especially if we are overweight and don’t currently workout. What about relevance? Are you kidding? Who wouldn’t want to lose 10 pounds and have a healthier existence or fit into those clothes that you hide in the back of your closet? Having the right timeline is very important. You have to be realistic. Saying you want to lose 10 pounds in 4 hours is not only unrealistic but even mildly insane. Tell yourself you’d like to lose 1 pound per week for 10 weeks. Perfectly realistic and definitely attainable. From this outline, you can begin taking steps like: eat 300 calories less per day, stop drinking my nightly beer, walk to work et cetera. The options are limitless.

  2. Stop treating the New Year like a magic day: A healthy lifestyle can start on a Sunday evening in August or a Tuesday morning in June. We have glorified the 1st of the year as the time to start over. As we rip “December 31st” off the calendar we trap ourselves in this gregorian stalemate that we will never win. Realize that a day is just a day no matter where it falls on the calendar.
  3. Realize that life happens: You set the goal, made to January 29th. Excitedly, you cross days off the calendar each tick marking a successful 24 hours of healthy eating and exercise. The phone rings. It’s your best friend and she just got her promotion. She has bought the most expensive bottle of champagne on the market and she is on her way to your flat. Fast forward 3 hours and you have demolished not only the champagne but also the 2 bottles of red wine you were saving for a “special occasion” and managed to somehow order a delivery in your drunken stupor. When you wake up the next day you throw your calendar in the trash thinking that the last 29 days are now null and void, a total write-off and you spend the next few weeks making up for lost time. Binge drinking, eating lousy and staying up way past your bedtime all lead to a miserable March for you and your so called “resolutions”. That mindset needs to change. You had one off night out of 29. That is only a 3.4% failure rate. Perspective changes everything. Get drunk, celebrate with your friends but the next morning, tighten up those screws and its back on the right track. Remember, you aren’t starting over, you just took a brief intermission.

The stigma of the New Year’s resolutions needs to stop. Goals can happen anyone of the 365 days a year. Using the three tips above can ensure that you start building a “New you” to last the whole year and years to come.

Article by Cameron Currie 
HEAD COACH @ Crossfit Cavaliers

Crossfit Cavaliers opens their second location January 9 with a grand opening party and some great fit fun.
Mark your calendars and see you there this weekend!