As February continues to creep by and the holiday season seems like a distant past, it was only around 6 weeks ago that most of us set out with intention to conquer our New Year’s resolutions. The cold truth is that 80 PERCENT of resolutions made at the beginning of January fail by February, according to U.S. News & World Report.

80% is a lot.

80% is the vast majority, and statistically– you have been in the 80% crew before (me too). The lingering question then becomes:

Why?

Are only 20 percent of us driven enough to reach our goals and change our lives?

Many of us set a resolution, or goal, that is far too extreme. We get all excited after the holiday food binge about exercising more, losing weight, and becoming stronger and healthier, which is awesome.

However, we hear folks say things like, “I’m joining a gym to go every weekday for an hour” or “I’m cutting out all sugars, fats, and alcohol from my diet.” Unfortunately, extreme changes like these are rarely sustainable in the long term…

Take for example John Doe, who cuts out his sugars, fats, and alcohol for the first week of January. He stops by the gym at his work every afternoon and completes a strength and cardiovascular circuit. He began the week feeling great about his new plan, and let’s say he even lost 3 pounds. But by the end of the week and into the first weekend of January, John experiences extreme cravings of pizza, pasta, wings, candy bars, etc. He is also bothered by knee pain during his time at the gym and plans to take some time off. After a few weeks, John can’t stand the thought of another salad, especially during the weekend while everybody is over for football Sunday. John decides to “cheat” one day and enjoys pizza, wings, chips, and beer during the games. After all, he did great all week right? I can almost guarantee that John would wake up the next morning heavier than when he began his diet, and far from motivated to get any type of workout in. Its extreme setbacks like this example that kill our resolution plans and progress.

Instead of taking our healthy lifestyle programs to the extreme, we can aim to make smaller, progressive changes to our diets and lifestyles. John could easily fit two workouts into his busy work week, and focus on adding a serving of fruits or veggies to each one of his meals throughout the day. Two workouts a week soon becomes three, and John builds a habit of working out that takes priority within his schedule. His fruits and veggies substitute the afternoon snickers bar because he’s just not as hungry, and he notices that he feels better drinking a glass of water in the morning rather than a diet coke.

The takeaway in John’s example is that consistency and habit-building strategies trump extreme adjustments when attempting to make sustainable lifestyle changes. Hopefully this short, fictional example got you thinking about your own healthy lifestyle and leaves you with questions about details in diet, nutrition, strength or endurance training. 

Authored by Kenny Palmer and inspired by coach and client LeighAnn Mueller

 

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