In my opinion, January is the hardest month of the year here in Michigan (especially when its supposed to look like the beautiful picture above and it doesn't). Because temperatures are cold, days are gray, and even sunny days are over by 5pm. Michiganders keep our new years resolutions to go to the gym a little longer than people in other, nicer states due to this weather! Simply because we’re more than likely in search of some form of sanity. However, stats say that in 2019 “getting healthier” was still the number one New Years resolution. Some websites say increasing exercise was number one. Others say eating better was number one. Regardless, they both have the same objective; lose weight and feel better, which has been the most common one almost every year, for as long as you can go back. Never the less according to business insider “80% of people will give up on their resolutions by the end of January” (https://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-to-keep-a-new-years-resolution-2018-12). Why do we keep making this resolution? We all know what Einstein says about trying the same thing over and over in the hopes of achieving a new result, right? Yeah, we're insane. So why do we keep making a resolution we know we’re going to break or why are we making resolutions at all?
Thinking back on the handful of Januaries I spent in the corporate gym atmosphere, I vividly remember how every treadmill was full for the first two weeks of January, by the third week, a couple would open up and by February they were empty again. There are a 100 reasons I could offer as to why this is. People don’t set realistic goals and don't stick to them. They don’t set specific goals. They didn’t really think through their goal. They saw a goal on a show and made it their own. They weren’t truly committed. The list goes on. Setting goals needs to be step one and it needs to be a realistic, ahievable goal.
You might be reading this and you are absolutely determined this time you WILL lose the weight! You WILL go to the gym and you WILL stick to the diet. You have a plan, you're going to lose 20lbs slowly. You’re even happy with 1LB a week of weight loss. You’re doing this by going to the gym 3-5x a week and doing whole 30 or any other diet that is out there right now. To that I would say “great work! I’m proud of you for thinking this through and not looking for a quick fix. However, I am still concerned.” That seems harsh, but let me tell you why I think that.
Did you ask yourself why? Why 20lbs? Why isn’t 15lbs enough or why stop at 20lbs? Is it because 120lbs looks really good on your friend or on the person on a magazine cover? Where did you get the information that informed you losing 20lbs would put you at the ideal weight for you? Why did you pick that particular diet? Because your sister did Keto and lost 10lbs in a month? Maybe you’ve seen paleo menus offered more often at restaurants, so you figured that would be easier.
I’m not trying to criticize anyone for why they made the goals they did, but more on wondering how many of us actually are aware of the "why". If your reasons for your resolutions look anything like the ones listed above I’ll take a strong bet you are on the road to failure. Simply because you forgot to think about something major when you set a goal for yourself…
Lets break these two topics down even further.
First, let's talk about weight. We all come in several shapes and sizes. Weight in numbers looks completely different on each of us. I am 5’9. I probably weigh a lot more than many other girls at 5’9. I also probably weight a lot less than some. Does that make me too skinny, to muscle bound, too fat? NO! It simply makes my body what it is, different from anyone else. Several people in the past few weeks, in preparation for their new year goal setting, asked me “What should I weigh?”. Brad turned around and asked “where does the idea that there is a “right” weight come from?”. I was momentarily stumped by both. Then I remember as a teenager sitting in front of the first PC in our household, waiting for dial up, and then typing “what should I weigh?” into whatever search engine we used back then. Several pages popped up and most had calculators that allowed me to type in my gender, height, weight and sometimes age. Then it would tell me if I was average, under weight or over weight.
So, that is where the idea that “ideal weight” comes from. From some person who randomly took averages and made it less than that. From Society. All around us we’re being told what exactly we should weigh. Then I started to think about how I wanted to respond when clients ask me “what should I weigh”? I’ve decided the ideal weight looks like someone who is healthy, not having excess fat on their body. They can participate or train to participate in any physical activity they’d like because they are not limited by what their body is capable of doing. While they might not feel amazing everyday, overall they are comfortable in their own skin and confident in their body. That number could be such a wide range, it is almost impossible for me to tell someone what they should weigh. So, if you’re growing frustrated with your resolution to weigh a specific amount, maybe its because that number is still to arbitrary. Instead, find something you’d like to be able to physically accomplish that you currently can’t, and set a goal to complete that. Most times that will lead to weight loss and fat loss.
Lastly, let’s talk diet. Like I mentioned above, we all have different body types. Even people of the same age, gender, height and weight rarely look the same. Dr. Stephen Cabral does an incredible job of breaking down the three main body types, ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph (http://jasonferruggia.com/training-nutrition-body-type-dr-stephen-cabral/). He clearly explains that none of us fit perfectly into one category, but we will have stronger characteristics in one compared to the other. Each body type benefits optimally from a different diet and a different training regime. Some body types absolutely need good healthy carbs and less fat (ectomorphs). While the other end of the spectrum does best with higher fat and very low carb diets (endomorphs). Not to mention many of us have issues that cause intolerances to specific foods or we might have full blown allergies. This is why picking a diet based on the hottest trend or the results a family member got, are not sufficient reasons. Your body will respond to foods in its own way. Diet isn’t something we do for a little while to lose a few pounds. Diet is something we do day in and day out. As long as you're eating, you're on some type of diet. The best goal you can make for yourself when it comes to the food you choose, is to find the foods that help you feel and function optimally. This is a long process. It takes dedication and perseverance. However, if you stick to it and find what exactly your body needs and what it does not, you will not only feel much better, but you’re more likely to stick with it as a new habit.
All in all, resolutions and goals are great. January is a great month to focus on the things that need to change and to begin making those changes. But before you jump all in and then quickly burn out, stop and ask yourself “why” to every goal you set.