With the new years comes the idea of new year’s resolutions and with resolutions we see a broad spectrum of approaches. I know I have seen social media posts that range from big goals and big changes to one small action done daily to people who say they don’t need the New Year to spark a change in them. The fitness industry feeds off the idea of a new year and new changes since most people in this country know they need to make changes when it comes to their health and fitness. Funny enough, many fitness “veterans” complain about the new year because now their gym is full of people they have to share equipment with and, generally speaking, most of the new year’s crowd hasn’t got a clue what they’re doing. This can cause some experienced fitness enthusiasts to develop a sense of superiority in regards to new year’s resolutioners. My response to that is two fold: First, my gym, and the most of the rest of the industry, makes its money off of new clients who need help. The day new people stop joining and stop buying our services is the day I will be forced to close the gym. Unfortunately, $45 a month doesn’t make much of a dent in a $1,000,000 facility. So unless you want to be forced to go lift at ATC or Planet Fitness, lose access to monolifts, specialty bars, strongman equipment, and an environment that allows chalk and doesn’t play crappy music, you better spread the word and encourage new people to come to the gym (or at the very least don’t discourage them). Second, everybody should have a new years resolution. That’s great if you’re taking action through out the year to improve yourself in different areas of your life but if you’re not, the new year is the perfect catalyst. Personally, I try to make a resolution each year. Typically, it’s a small, simple task to do everyday that will improve some aspect of my life like floss my teeth everyday, make my bed each morning, or devote at least 10-15 minutes of reading each day. In light of all this, I decided to share three fitness resolutions that everybody should have and a special meathead version of each as well.
1. Develop a better relationship with health and fitness
Americans are overweight and out of shape. Everyone knows this; a lot of people try to make changes but most everybody fails. Making change is difficult, healthy nutritious food doesn’t provide the same orgasmic chemical response that we get from processed sugar and exercise hurts. Few people have to be in great physical shape to survive so most people take the easy road, it’s part of human nature. The dichotomy between what we know we should do versus what we’re biologically drawn towards and trained ourselves to do makes this a very challenging process. Thus, people who hate exercise, who hate healthy food, or even people who don’t really enjoy it need to make a resolution to create a better relationship with health and nutrition. If you were given a million dollars and told to steward it well, some people would spend it as fast as possible, some people would let it sit and do nothing with it, and other would grow it into much more than a million dollars. This is similar to being given a healthy body at birth. At the very least, don’t waste it. The ability to exercise, to choose the foods you wish to eat, to be able to pursue self improvement is something not afforded to everybody on this planet. If you have these luxuries, be thankful. Each time you find yourself having negative emotions or thoughts in regards to your health and fitness, take a second to think or, better yet, write down something you’re thankful for in regards to your body, your life, and your pursuit of health and fitness.
Meathead Version: Meatheads typically have the opposite emotion towards health and fitness that most people struggling with it do: we love it. Because of this, we sometimes build a superiority complex based off the fact that something so hard for most everyone else to do comes a bit easier for us. This makes us feel good about ourselves and we like to show how good we feel about ourselves by posting about it constantly on social media. This gets us likes which makes us feel even better about ourselves. Sometimes we justify our social media obsession by saying we’re trying to motivate other people to work out but are we really? Do we really post pictures of ourselves half naked posing to encourage the guy or girl across the office to actually get in the gym and eat right or do we do it because we know we’ll get a bunch of likes and that makes us feel good about spending three hours in the gym and eating chicken and broccoli at our own birthday party? If you’re a regular in the gym, who’s figured out how to make health and fitness a part of your life, instead of posting stuff about yourself on social media, take that time and energy and reach out to someone (or several) and invite them to come workout with you. Help them develop a healthy relationship with health and fitness while you do as well.
2. Do something that makes you comfortable and uncomfortable
Truth be told, when you first start training pretty much everything is going to make you uncomfortable. So instead of jumping head first into a bunch of stuff that sucks, pick something you enjoy first. If you don’t like being sore from weight training, start off going for a bike ride or rowing or hell, even Zumba. Do something that will at least get your foot in the door. You’ll quickly realize that exercise actually does make you feel pretty good and you’ll be a little more comfortable with what it feels like to breath heavy and sweat. You’ll also realize that true health and fitness can’t be achieved from completely ignoring one aspect of it. You’ll realize that you’ll need to work on your strength, your mobility, your muscularity, your body composition, your speed and explosion, your endurance and all other areas of health and fitness. These will mean you will have to take on new challenges: things that are uncomfortable. But with each step into discomfort you’ll gain a little more momentum and quickly you will look forward to challenging yourself in new ways.
Meathead Version: As meatheads we’re used to discomfort. We love it when people ask how much we squat or bench and we see their face cringe as they think about what that must feel like. We secretly love it when we tear a callus so we can show people how much pain we can handle. But let’s be honest, all that is still comfortable to us. Our first time we experienced getting our knees wrapped we squirmed like we were being tortured but once we got used to it it wasn’t a big deal. So…do something that is uncomfortable. Find something that will actually test you, something that will make you want to quit. Unless you have a competition in the next couple of months you can afford to take a month to train something you really suck at and don’t enjoy. Do you have terrible aerobic fitness, think cardio is stupid, hate running? Then give yourself a month to run a 5k. Are you way too fat and justify it because you have a big bench and think you look jacked but only with clothes on? Take a month to clean up your nutrition, no cheat meals for a month. Can’t touch your toes, scratch your back, or squat to depth without three times body weight? Go do yoga three times a week. Whatever it is, find something that you don’t want to do and do it. Find something that you really want to quit half way through and don’t.
3. Apply what you learn in the gym to life
The gym is one of the best teaching tools for life that I have come across. It teaches you the benefits of hard work, discipline, and commitment and helps you improve your time management, social skills, and, in some instances, a little bit of life balance. Those are valuable lessons that can be applied to other areas of your life. After several months of creating new habits, getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and knocking down goal after goal, look back and think about how you accomplished each one of them. What other areas in your life can you apply this too? How could these help you at your job? Help you at home? Help you in your relationships? Taking your health and fitness seriously is more than just looking good naked (although that is definitely a plus). It’s about getting the most out of your life which means taking an active approach to improving all of it.
Meathead Version: Stan Efferding once said that anyone who can do what it takes to step on stage at a bodybuilding show has what it takes to be successful in life. You’ve got the discipline, the hard work, and the commitment to hit PRs, get to crazy low body fat levels, run miles upon end and push your body to levels others can’t. Think of what that would look like if you applied it to your finances, if you applied it to your relationships, and if you applied it to your work. How about trying to hit a savings PR, to get your marriage to a crazy awesome level, or to get that promotion or new position that you’ve been chasing? If you can do it inside these walls, you can do it outside as well.
…So go do it