New Years resolutions and deja vu shouldn’t be correlated, should they? Unfortunately, I think far too many people make the same resolutions year after year because they fail on an annual basis. Nobody likes failing, do they?! Yet as the New Year approaches, people across the country are pledging to eat better, exercise more, and get themselves “in shape”, just like they did last year. How can they make it work in 2011?
There are infinite factors that come into play when addressing the concept of ‘getting fit’, but I want to address two of them today. Most people don’t define their ideal level of fitness, and they don’t generate any social support. These may be their two biggest mistakes!
If you asked 100 people what it means to be ‘fit’, you’d get 101 definitions. Some people will tell you it’s running a 7 minute mile, or doing 50 push-ups at a time, or squatting their body weight. Others might tell you it’s running a marathon, and still others will include double bodyweight deadlifts or a sub-4 second 40yd dash. My point is that you can’t globally define fitness; it depends on who you are and what you want to do. If you’re planning on an exercise-related New Years Resolution, personalize it to what you want to do. If you want to run a 5k, if you want to do 10 chin-ups, if you want to squat the total weight of your family; your fitness program should allow you to reach your goals. People frequently follow generic exercise plans, and while they’re certainly improve their level of fitness, they may come up short on their goals. Instead, make sure that your methods match your goals. Let me add that regardless of your exercise program, you should working harder workout to workout. Whether you’re increasing volume (sets or reps), load (using heavier weights) or choosing more difficult exercises, work harder workout to workout.
Social support is equally if not more important than program design. You may be following the best program ever, but if you don’t have any social support, you won’t succeed. When you’re making changes this year, there are two kinds of people that will interfere with your success: Those that pull you down, and those who don’t push you up. People may ridiculue you, insult you, or mock you; most likely they’re jealous of your success and determination. This may frequently be people who are close to you: a friend who doesn’t want to get left behind, or a significant other who doesn’t have the same dedication. Rather than let it bother you, use it as motivation; let it help you get better! Personally, I find it motivating to hear ‘You can’t’, but you may not. If that’s the case, you may need to avoid those Debbie-downers in your life that are interfering with your progress. It’s important to focus on your goals and avoid those who are preventing you from reaching them.
Similarly, you should be wary of those who don’t push you as hard as you can go. I’ve seen it numerous times; it’s good enough for them, so it’s good enough for you. This is usually important when it comes to choosing training partners. Do they push your to your potential? Do they encourage you to do more? If they’re a good training partner, they will. Make sure that you find somebody who promotes your success regardless of differences in your current fitness levels. It should also be your priority to push them; don’t accept anything less than their best effort!
If you’re using the same New Years Resolution for the 5th year in a row, keep these two things in mind. A customized program (designed by somebody who knows what they’re doing, not your friend who reads the forums on BodyBuilding.com) will give you the best exercises to help you reach your goals, and good social support will help keep you on track. Be cognizant of these factors, and make this the last year that ‘getting in shape’ is your New Years Resolution!