It’s that time of the year again! The time when people reflect on the year that passed and boldly form their New Year’s Resolutions for the coming year. If you yourself don’t subscribe to this practice, you at least know someone who does. From what we read, turns out that 41% of Americans claim to habitually make New Year’s Resolutions – and guess what? They are usually health and fitness related. But we all know that major lifestyle changes when it comes to diet and exercise are difficult to sustain; for example, a commonly cited study found that only 8% of Americans are generally successful in maintaining their new found resolve to fruition. There are many reasons people are ultimately unsuccessful at achieving their goal; a great book that explains the mechanisms of change and hence the difficulties in achieving lasting behavior modifications is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. But generally speaking, we found that in some cases the goals are either too vague, like “I want to get in shape” or reside on that other side of the spectrum where they are overly specific or unattainable, such as “I want to run a marathon in 12 weeks”… even though I’ve never been a runner. We at Shop Stone Age are by no means doctors or life coaches, but we do think it is fair to say the best course is found somewhere in the middle. That’s why we think a great New Year’s Resolution for anyone is to just “keep moving!”
When one resolves to keep moving for a certain number of days a week they are able to increase the likelihood of success in meeting their New Year’s Resolution in a couple of ways. By explicitly committing to a given number of days per week, the resolutionist (yes that’s a word!) provides her/himself with a metric that will help with staying accountable in this pursuit. This strategy is even more effective if the goal is shared with family and friends, as social bonds (or to be honest, maybe even social pressure!) can provide great motivation to stick with it, even when motivation is low. The second and more important dimension of committing to keep moving more often in the New Year is that one is committing to exercising without putting limitations on what that means. A common trap that individuals fall into is trying to start a strict training regimen after a long period of inactivity. Forming a training plan around a specific goal is great for individuals who are already in the habit of exercising and have the time and discipline to really see it through. However, for many of us it just a means to come up with excuses to give up down the road. Partners bailing, inadequate time or facilities, or just getting overwhelmed by the schedule itself all contribute to people losing motivation around their New Year’s Resolution. So we’ll posit that by committing to simply being active, one can feel free to have more or less ambitious goals of “movement” in a day (such as weight training at a gym vs. going for a long walk with the dog), get a pass to trying new things (let’s go try rock climbing), or make allowances for things like work schedule overwhelm, and even injury or illness. By allowing oneself to try new things, one might even find a new hobby, make new friends, and discover new places.
As time goes by and movement goals are met, the effects will be undeniable. In our ever-changing landscape of doctors and health gurus giving advice on what to do and not do, how to be our best, there is one thing that everyone agrees on: exercise is a panacea for many of our modern ills. And whereas sustained activity can help with weight management, energy levels, and possibly a number of chronic illnesses, we will also score big in improving our mood and social engagement. So here is our suggestion:
- Set a goal of moving and write it down; move in whatever way works for you today and be aware of your current level of fitness and health limitations (maybe 3 to 5 days a week?).
- Make a list of the things you’d like to do: walking, running, weight training, skiing, yoga, Pilates, kettle bells training, rock climbing, biking, etc.); the only requisite is that the activities should be fun for you and not feel like a chore.
- Start moving! Take a day at a time, an activity at a time
- Give yourself permission to modify that plan of how you will be moving based on what life throws at you! If too tired after a day at the office, maybe go for a walk rather than lifting weights; if stressed, out, maybe take a yoga class rather than going for a run. Be mindful of how your body feels – be gentle with yourself!
- If possible, ask a friend or family member to keep you company! If you try a new sport, you may actually meet a new partner to enjoy it with.
- Reassess: if your plan working, keep on doing it. If not, adjust it. Remember, you are the master of your plan and the only thing that matters is to not give up. Be cognizant that there will be highs and lows – and that’s all they are, something that is passing leaving room for the next fun thing to do.
- Keep on moving that body!
The more one sees positive results from their decision to keep moving, regardless of the activity, the easier it will be to stick to that New Year’s Resolution. And who knows, there is also a possibility that you may find a new hobby and new friends but surely you will infuse your life with new zest. We wish all our readers a Happy New Year and the fulfillment of all the New Year’s Resolutions!