The New Year is renowned for the resolution-rampage. We promise to some unknown entity that we’ll burn off that turkey-sized abscess, swelling within our mid-region, and that running a marathon-per-month is perfectly doable. Our goals for 2015 are to accomplish the goals of 2014, which should have been finished in 2013 because our promise in 2012 was originally made in 2011. This year, though, we know it will be different; it will be better.
So, the gym suddenly becomes frustratingly packed out, but I’ll come to that at the end. What I want to focus on here are five things to consider when accomplishing our 2015 resolutions.
1: Avoid unrealistic targets, adopt the numerical: Without immediate results, the gym will often dishearten us. We allow our priorities to shift towards more responsive parts of our lives, the time we dedicate to fitness takes a nosedive and training grinds to a shameful halt. The solution is to set small, numerical targets every 3-4 weeks and compete against ourselves. This way, you finish the year with a collective pile of small victories, equating to a substantial alteration in your lifestyle and general wellbeing.
Of course, different things motivate different people, but knowing I would achieve something during every workout has spurred consistency in my results. Ultimately, you’re less likely to lose track of your progression if you give yourself a target weight loss of 1kg per month or 10kg increase on your OHP in 8 weeks than you would, for example, by setting a target of “losing weight” or “getting stronger” in 2015. It’s all in the numerical preparation. Plan and commit.
2: Ease into it: Are you now writing a list in which you order yourself to eat NO CAKE FOR A YEAR and run EVERY DAY and do BUTT CLENCHES every half hour? Do you seriously think you’re going to keep all of that up? Training is for life… not just for Christmas. Trying to suddenly force it in just isn’t going to work out – this is a multifaceted lesson for some of us, so take note. Now, I train four times a week for two hours at a time. I started by going a couple of times per week without knowing what I was doing, but it’s been a snowball effect ever since. Now, I intend to introduce an increasing layer of abdominal, lower back and flexibility exercises in the coming months.
3: Failure is going to happen: Don’t hate yourself (or the gym) for failing. I got into training for all the wrong reasons, and it took far too long to rectify that. I hated myself: how I looked, who I was, everything, and training was my retribution. When I failed in training, I hated myself even more for it. But that isn’t how it should work. If you don’t hit those targets you’ve set every single session, that’s okay, because you’re going to do it next time. Take time to reflect and alter your preparation. Just don’t quit, because failure isn’t a signature of weakness but, instead, a sign that you have decided not to live your life cautiously within the confines of what you can already do.
Similarly, if you find yourself binge-eating for a week because you just broke up with your partner of 5 years, that’s cool too – next time, make sure to invite me (I love cookie dough). Bad stuff happens. Just make sure that, when you’re back to training, you channel those emotions towards a newfound passion to be a better person; to constantly improve the version of “you” that currently exists. It’s okay to fail; after all, it’s a sign of progress.
4: Stop looking for the easy answer: There is no one-fits-all training programme. Stop looking for it. Instead, learn the basics until they’re solid (after 5 years of what I thought was powerlifting, I’m now back to basics and working my way up and it feels great). Once those are sorted, then you can begin to knead in the complexities and assistance exercises. As ever, I’m speaking purely from a context of weight training, but the same would apply for learning the basics of any sports-specific movements or techniques.
5: No excuses: “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” I know multiple women who are a hell of a lot stronger than the vast majority of men. Clearly, Socrates didn’t. The point, however, stands, whether you are male or female, young or old, able-bodied or disabled in some way. You’re going to successively set priorities throughout your whole life, but your individual health, that body you’re currently living in, should always be up near the top. You’ve got that lump of meat for the rest of your life. Look after it, train it to become resilient and never give up on those goals to make yourself into a well-rounded individual.
Hopefully that’s given some food for thought. One final point – don’t complain that the gym is getting busier at this time of year. It’s the same level of disrespect shown by those who mock larger individuals who are burning off the calories, struggling on a treadmill. The last thing someone needs is to hear some whiney individual complain about newbies taking up “their” space. They’re trying to change their lives, so maybe you should change your damn attitude.
Best of luck with 2015, and remember to believe in what you can achieve.