There’s one thing nearly all of us have in common: we’ve made a New Year’s resolution at some point in our lives. Another commonality? We didn’t stick to it.
We turned to Chicago-based personal trainer, weight loss guru and author, Michael Moody, for advice on sticking to the most common (and most difficult) resolutions. His inspirational health and fitness book, Redefine Yourself: The Simple Guide to Happiness and his ten-years of experience will help guide you and, well, redefine yourself.
The most common misconception about getting in shape is the primary importance of fitness. While fitness plays a pivotal role in your strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, and cardio endurance, it still relies heavily on your nutrition. Without the proper nutrition for your body type, you will not have the energy or building blocks to sculpt the healthy body you want. Any nutritional deficit or inflammation will certainly affect your ability to get in shape, live to 100, or reduce injury.
Considering that each person is different, there isn’t a single strategy to motivate yourself when you want to give up. While some people persevere when given a strict structure to follow, other people are intimidated and won’t push themselves. Add in societal pressures, personality traits, family and work demands, and natural limitations, it’s surprising that anyone has the strength to sift through these factors and push through. The best advice is to become a human scientist – study your physical, mental, emotional self and your habits, decision-making process, and problem solving approach. By utilizing this strategy, you are reducing the ambiguity of the process in the simplest way and identifying your strengths and weaknesses for the most efficient approach. You will feel more control over your situation and able to target the undermining reasons for giving up.
With the endless circus act of exercises found online and in magazines, it would take years to point out every little piece of form you should keep in mind while exercising. While you should study your body’s response to different positions and movements, there are basic rules you should keep in mind for whatever you approach:
- Keep your feet hip width and straight to maximize stability and glute/abdominal activation.
- Keep your shoulders above your hips to maintain a neutral position and reduce pelvic tilting.
- Maintain a neutral spine by periodically checking your lumber curve (lower back) and cervical spine (neck).
There are certainly exceptions to these rules. Nevertheless, they will generally guide through a safe workout routine.
In my book Redefine Yourself, I discuss the importance of self-talk. I’d love to tell you that you need to simply tell yourself “I will only drink on special occasions,” and you will automatically begin living the perfect healthy lifestyle. It’s not that simple, though. While we need to reinforce this message repeatedly (think brainwashing yourself), this change requires a jolt to your habits. Up to this point, you may drink socially and might fear losing these interactions, or you drink after work as a reward. Your habits rely on a trigger, response, and reward. The key is to recognize your triggers (i.e. the end of your work day) and keep the reward (i.e. the feeling of accomplishment and completion). Instead of grabbing a drink, think about integrating routines that will rely on the same trigger and give you the same reward. Some people will give themselves 30 minutes to decompress while others might indulge in reading. Figure out what that healthy substitution is for you.
Other ways to minimize alcohol in your life:
- Choose a clear alcohol like vodka or gin instead of whiskey or liquor since it has less sugar and calories. Pinot Noir over most white wines will give you the same benefits.
- It’s hard to remove alcohol when socializing personally or professionally. If you must, order a drink and keep it in your hands. Nobody will wonder why you’re not drinking.
- Keep to your routine and allow yourself a cheat meal/drink. You don’t need to give up everything, just know what your boundaries are.
If you study fad diets and what your friends do, you will certainly develop several nutritional approaches. Most likely, you will incorporate these strategies for several months but will eventually resort to old habits. Become more aware of your needs. Most people unscientifically and haphazardly try a number of strategies based on what works for other people. This often contributes to why most people don’t attain success. Are you doing the right things for your body? Is your strategy based on your needs or someone else’s? If a diet is more tailored to your needs, you’re more likely to stick to it as you attain success. Most important, you will incorporate healthy menu items that you’ll most likely enjoy more and continue to eat.
My book is based on the premise that people can achieve happiness and their fitness goals by applying an approach of awareness, acceptance, and adaptation to their life. This is the breakdown:
Awareness: Another way of referring to awareness is “collecting the truth of a moment.” When you practice remaining aware before making a decision, a judgment, or movement, you are committing to a higher state of living; you are committing to seeing the real perfections and imperfections of the world and yourself, and making a fair judgment based on this. It’s important to examine how your belief system, insecurities, fears, emotions, feelings of helplessness, and decision-making process affects your behavior before adapting new strategies. Otherwise, these unconscious parts of you can obstruct or undermine your ability to reach your best self.
Acceptance: Moving forward or redefining yourself really can’t occur unless you can learn to accept yourself or the way a situation is at a given moment. When you’re unhappy with yourself, recognize that feeling. Perhaps you can dispel this irrational thought with the evidence around you and move on, or maybe there is some truth in your thought (i.e. you really do need to lose weight). You might as well accept it—if you can’t change it right away—and then start thinking about adaptive strategies. Beating yourself up about it will only send you down a self-destructive path. Put yourself in the right mindframe and try to remove some of the emotion from this. Learn to accept imperfections and move on. Trust your instincts, your gut, and your good perspective. Don’t be afraid to start over or put in the work.
Adaptation: Adapting is choosing the best strategy to enhance a moment based on you and your resources at a given point. In the big picture of redefining you, you will need to change your problem solving approach, accumulate wisdom through error, create new habits, define your purpose, learn self-policing strategies, define your boundaries, create positive life goals to steer your behaviors, and create conversations with others as you adapt your life with the intent of happiness and achieving your best physical, mental, and emotional self.