I’m writing this mainly for the people who woke up on Jan. 1 feeling less than thrilled with the results of their eating and drinking one the holidays. But it also applies to anyone thinking of making rapid change with some crazy extreme resolution.
Resolutions fail when we try and make a change that is too drastic, too fast. It’s much better to make a lifestyle change with the intent of reaching whatever you think is perfection in that area, but being easy on yourself if you don’t do it perfectly along the way. Completely changing your diet immediately rarely works. It’s usually much more effective to make gradual changes.
How to make small steps that lead to lasting change
You can get used to a healthy change or two, feel accomplished and then go for more healthy changes. This creates sustainable change that lasts. A couple of exceptions: if your doctor tells you to change your diet today to avoid certain death, that’s a different story. Get extreme! If you are ruining your life with alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, now is a great time to get extreme.
A few years ago, my friend Marina called and said “I just joined Yas around the corner. I’m going to spin four times a week and do hot yoga twice a week. What do you think? Do you think that will help?”
I said, “first of all, no you are not. You will commit to two spin classes a week and one yoga class for the first two weeks. If you do an extra class or two — Gold Star.”
It blew her mind. She couldn’t believe that I, the personal trainer, that I am, was saying this. But she liked it, and it worked. Eventually she stepped her game up and was going five times a week. Had she had tried six times straight out the gate, she would have failed, gotten discouraged and said “forget it!”
Do more of what works, less of what doesn’t
Going to the gym is better than eating on the couch. Do more of the gym.
Ice cream works when you are depressed or stressed out. It rushes your body with sugar and can temporarily alter your mood. Ice cream also can also rapidly grow your waistline, so it doesn’t work so much as a beach prep plan.Iif you want to be in better shape and feel good in your body, do less ice cream.
Try something new
If you keep going to the gym, and then you keep quitting the gym, maybe the gym is not for you? Try something outdoors. Join a team sport. Go to a boxing gym. Take a dance class. Climb a tree, walk, run, hike, play tennis, paddle-board — any physical activity works better for improving your health than not doing anything. More physical activity!
Don’t be a hero
There is an old saying that “you have to walk before you can run.” Yes, it has that old-time cheesiness to it, but it’s also true.
According to data from USA Today, in 2012 about 460,000 people suffered injuries in gyms (or by exercise equipment) that lead to trips to the hospital. I’ve spent a significant amount of my life in gyms and I’ve never seen evidence of these numbers, Let’s keep it that way here in L.A.!
If today’s your first day in a gym ever, consider getting a trainer to show you the ropes. You can learn enough about form in just a couple of sessions to get acclimated and have a base of good form. If you think you can’t afford a couple of sessions, ask yourself if you can afford a hospital bill or not going in to work after an injury. A trainer can be much cheaper.
If you haven’t been to the gym in a while, ease back in. You don’t have to lift all the weights today. leave some for tomorrow.