Don’t look now, but 2015 is officially in full swing. If January is the month in which new year resolutions are created, then February holds the unfortunate distinction of being the month in which these resolutions fall by the wayside. It’s very easy to set lofty goals for the new year only to never quite achieve them. But why does this happen, especially in the context of fitness-focused resolutions? In times like these it’s important to remind ourselves why exactly we wanted to do this, and then make the pivotal decision that these goals are important to us. If you’re struggling to stay on track, discouraged, or simply lost, keep reading.
If there is one mantra, one bit of “fitspiration,” that you should commit to memory, it is this:
“Fitness is a marathon, and not a sprint.”
If you made a lofty fitness goal for the new year, whether it is to shed 15 pounds, gain some strength, or run a faster 5k, there is a very good chance it will take more than a week, more than a month even, to get there. You saw and experienced the mad gym rush that occurred the first week of January. Every treadmill whirred at a furious pace, and every machine and piece of equipment looked like they had a line of people longer than the checkout line at Trader Joe’s on a Sunday afternoon. As the weeks passed, you probably saw the amount of people slowly but surely diminish. Now, if you’ve made it this far, everything at the gym has started to look normal again, so to speak. It almost seemed as if everyone wanted to cross their fitness resolution off their lists first, when really, it should be one of the last.
Results in the gym take time. There’s more to a fitness goal than just hopping on a treadmill and jogging into oblivion on the quest to lose weight. There’s also a behavioral component: what are you doing outside of the gym to achieve your goals? Are you eating better? Are you sleeping better? As you can imagine, establishing these healthy habits take time. It certainly takes more than a week to do this.
On the gym side, too often people kick their gears into overdrive without warming their engines when it comes to fitness resolutions. In other words, they go too hard too soon and burn out almost immediately. After all, exercise IS stress, and it should be handled as such, whether it be physical soreness or mental fatigue from exerting so much effort so soon! But stress in the right amounts is necessary in order to elicit adaptations that will lead you towards you fitness goal, whatever it may be. As your fitness improves, your stress tolerance improves as well, boosting your potential for greater adaptations towards your goal.
This does beg the question however: what is your goal and how are you going to get there? Having a goal without a plan of attack is like trying to sail to a Pacific isle without a map. You might get there, but chances are you’ll just wander about in the vast ocean hoping to find it. This is what most gym-goers do. Are those leg extensions and leg curls on the machine really going to help you tighten up your tummy? Probably not. If you have a goal of any kind, make sure you also know how to get there. And do make sure you can commit to this plan with 100% effort. What good is the best training program in the world, completely tailored to your current fitness status and your busy schedule, if you can’t show up and do the work when you need to? Start slow, because it is much easier to give that 100% and build up from there.
So, what exactly is your fitness resolution for 2015? Whatever it may be, it is very easy to get caught up with the end result. Okay, so your goal is to lose 15 pounds, and maybe three months from now, you finally get there. But then what? The journey doesn’t stop when you reach the destination. Are you really going to stop training and abandon every habit and every bit of effort you made to get to your goal, only to watch yourself regress to the starting point?
Thus, make sure you’re enjoying this journey. Focus on the process, and don’t get caught up with the end result. Stop comparing yourself with other people in the gym, because the only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday. The only thing that separates the average gym-goer from someone who makes steady progress and continues to get result year in and year out is, quite simply, that they show up on a consistent basis. If you have a plan in the gym, this becomes easier. If you’re enjoying yourself, even more so.
Once you have a plan and enjoy the process, you’ve already won half the battle. Keep fighting for it! Because remember, fitness is a marathon, and not a sprint.
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.