Yes, I know I already posted a blog today but sometimes a topic for a blog comes to you and you just have to get it out there. So I was thinking, it’s the season of the Resolutioners. Those people who pack a gym for anything from 2 weeks to 2 months, determined to get healthy. Then they quickly drop away. But why do people find it so hard to stick to something that they know will do them good?
The first thing is you just can’t put a date on something like this. If you decide, probably some time in December, that on January 1st you’re going to lose weight, quit smoking, work out, get a new job, whatever your resolution is, when that date rolls around you’re going to feel obligated to do it. Because you said you would. So this new thing comes from a sense of “I have to do it because I said I would. It doesn’t really come from a sense of I want to do it, even though you probably DID want to do it when you made the resolution. Basically it quickly becomes a chore. Something you HAVE to do. And nobody enjoys doing chores?
Am I right?
My becoming a runner didn’t come from a new years resolution. I didn’t even plan to become a runner. It just happened. The running evolved slowly. I used to walk laps around a small park just five minutes from home. Then I began to run the last lap. Then the last two laps. Before long I was running more than walking. By the time I called myself a runner I already had the habit of running. Now I can just lace up my shoes and go out the door without really thinking about it. I found I actually like running so keeping it going hasn’t been a chore.
If you’re going to wait for motivation to strike before getting out there and exercising, you’re not going to exercise very often. Motivation is what gets you started. But it’s fleeting and unreliable.
HABIT is what keeps you going. When I started exercising last March it came from necessity. Being diabetic and having the doctor wanting to put you on a second drug – one that’s strongly linked with causing liver problems – is a great motivator! I went out to my local park every day, whatever the weather. No excuses.
Timing is everything! You can start every January 1st and give up by February or March 1st. Until one year it clicks. That one year your desire for change becomes stronger than your force of habit that keeps you doing what you always did. When that spark happens you become unstoppable. The doctor wanting to put me on a medication that could cause other serious health issues was a powerful enough spark to get me out of my comfort zone and make me change my habits drastically. If that hadn’t happened I wonder if I would have lost that weight and started running.
If you’re the type who makes resolutions every year but can’t seem to keep them, you need to change your inner dialog. Stop telling yourself I HAVE to do this. Start saying I WANT to do this. I WILL do this. When you feel you WANT to do something you will find it much easier to keep it going. Let’s face it we’ll always prioritize what we want to do over what we have to do. It’s just human nature.
And look for the little victories. When you’re trying to lose weight it’s easy to become obsessed with the scale. If that scale doesn’t budge or, the horror, the scale starts to go up, it’s all too easy to just say “I can’t do this” and quit. But the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. People often go through a slight weight gain when they first start exercising. But it usually comes off pretty quick. It can be from water weight. Pay less attention to what the scale tells you and more attention to how your clothes are fitting, or how you look in the mirror. Clothes start to become loose, you can drop sizes pretty quick. Your collar bone starts to poke through. And your hip bones. Nothing motivates more effectively than seeing success. I was lucky. Once I started running the pounds just seemed to fall away. I went from size 38 jeans to size 32 in about 8 months. If I didn’t have the success I had, then I can’t say for certain I would have stayed the course. I became a runner for specific reasons. To lose weight. To get fit. To get off diabetes medication. The last one I achieved in just two months. The rest fell into place. Now I’m a runner for life because I SAW the results and I KNOW what running has done for me.
What running is continuing to do for me.
Whatever your resolution is try to pick something you can enjoy. Not everyone will enjoy running. Maybe you like to walk, run, dance, play football, play basketball. Basically, just move. Any movement beats sitting on the couch. Maybe this year you will find your spark. When that happens you will be unstoppable!