A New Year, a New You?

By Michael Krueger

Remember your goals of last year? Perhaps you had set your sights on building a healthy, lean, and fit body. You vowed to leave all your negative and destructive habits in the past and create the new you and the new life of which you’d always dreamed.

If you accomplished your goals and are on your way to levels of fitness that you wouldn’t have even dared dream of last year, you deserve a hearty congratulations. If you worked hard on your goals but came up a little short, you still earned praise.

But if you abandoned your dreams and didn’t work toward your goals, then odds are there isn’t going to be a new you this year either…unless you adjust your attitude, your goals, and your direction.

 

Harsh Realities

It’s been said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity, but it’s also been said to try, try again. Unfortunately, many people do both at the same time, and it usually begins the first week of the New Year. Because of this, they end up in the same place as last year: in front of the TV with a bag of chips, a drink, and a side of self-loathing.

It’s sad, but the more times you fail at fitness, the less likely you are to ever succeed. I know people who sign up for a new exercise class every winter and attend the first one and maybe the second one. It doesn’t take long before events overtake them and they miss the third, then the fourth, and then it is too embarrassing to go back for the remainder. Every year they say the same thing, “I can’t believe it happened again.” The insanity part is that they sign up again the next winter with no better plan to succeed than they had last year.

The next harsh reality is that you can never allow anyone to crush your dreams–and that includes you. If you really care about that little seed of a dream, you will need to nurture it again this year even if it dried up and died last year and the year before that and the year before that.

The final harsh reality is that to not slide into insanity is going to take some hard work.

 

A New Plan

Now would be a good time to review your old logbooks and journals in an effort to learn what worked and what didn’t. I know that this is unlikely to happen because if you had kept logs and journals, you probably wouldn’t be needing to try and figure out what works and what doesn’t–you’d already know.

I’ll give some suggestions as to how to formulate a new plan for success and you may feel free to use whichever may ring true for you. This path is not a one size fits all type of thing, so I’m not going to tell you that if you do “A” then “B” will happen; it’s not that simple. You are an individual with responsibilities, needs, and experiences unique to you. The self-talk you have been listening to for many years has created the soundtrack of your life, and that is just how it is. Erasing and rerecording a new and positive soundtrack is your biggest priority.

Every previous failure has left its mark on your psyche. Every misstep has begot a self-defeating thought that turned into fear of more failure. After reinforcing this thought process year after year, you have programmed yourself to fail, rationalize, internalize, and sink deeper into the abyss.

This time you will pick a new goal, one that you are certain you will achieve. The thing is to start small, really small. I know we all want to have big plans followed by big successes, and trust me, those will come. For now, you need to notch a few successes of any size.

If you want to control your eating habits, then do that. Right now, just think of something you’d love to eat and then don’t eat it. Simple enough, right? Write that little success down and move forward. Once you can see that it really is that simple to succeed, you will begin building on it. The next time you think of something you want to eat (especially if you aren’t even hungry), acknowledge the desire and decide to put it off; another success. This may seem simplistic and I won’t disagree with that, but so is mindless eating, and you’ve had no trouble engaging in that.

It works the same with exercising: Get up and go for a walk, and that’s a success. If you can run a few steps, that’s an even bigger win. Do that for two weeks in a row, and that’s some serious momentum. Do it for a few more weeks, and you have established a routine and have achieved even more success.

At this point, no success is too small, and none of this is too complicated; but, of course, this is when it becomes dangerous too.

 

Finishing Strong

So now you’ve picked all the low-hanging fitness fruit and all that’s left is stuff you’ll need to work hard for. On the downside, this means it’s a lot of work; on the upside, you’ve got some confidence now and you are stronger both mentally and physically, so you might as well dive right in.

You’ve proven to yourself that you are fully capable of deciding on a goal and then doing what is needed to accomplish that goal. Now is the time to build on your successes and your confidence and choose a goal that is a bit loftier than your most recent goals but still well within your ability to achieve. Think about what you’d like to accomplish in the next three or four weeks and set that in stone. For perhaps the first time in recent memory, make your goal nonnegotiable. Let nothing stand in your way. It might be to drop five pounds or to run a mile and a half nonstop. It doesn’t matter, so long as it’s a challenge, and one that you are willing to accept and work toward without the fear of failure.

Each goal you accomplish, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is important. Never allow anyone to tell you differently either. Losing a few pounds or running for a half hour is a great accomplishment when you set your sights on it and make it happen. There is an old adage, “Nothing succeeds like success”; though it sounds silly and trite, it really is true.

 

Always Moving Forward

Today is the day to make the changes you want in your life and make them stick. Once you’ve taken charge, you will begin to make more changes without even noticing. Your changes become evolutionary rather than revolutionary and because of that they just become integrated into your life without a lot of drama, angst, or fanfare.

When you get to this point, your life truly becomes your own. You morph into who you really want to be and when looking back you barely recognize the “you” that you were but don’t really see all the changes you made either; they are just part of the “new you.”

Start today, and tomorrow you will be one day closer to the fit, healthy, and happy life you’ve always wanted.

 

Michael Krueger is an NSCA-certified personal trainer. He got his start in fitness training while serving in the United States Coast Guard. He works with firefighters and others in and around Madison, Wisconsin. He is available to fire departments, civic organizations, and athletic teams for training, consulting, and speaking engagements. He has published numerous articles on fitness, health, and the mind-body connection and was a featured speaker at the IAFC’s FRI 2009 Health Day in Dallas, Texas. E-mail him at MKPTLLC@gmail.com.

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