So, it’s the middle of January already. Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Have you broken it yet? If not, you’re in the minority.
You don’t need to see the cupboards full of research papers on New Year’s resolutions to know that they invariably fail; we’ve all been there and done that.
Resolutions are like diets; they’re all or nothing. And when the all becomes impossible, or simply too difficult, we revert to nothing.
We beat ourselves up for our lack of discipline. Then we drown out that guilty, nauseating nag of failure with packets of chocolate digestives and bottles of white wine.
The problem is that diets, resolutions, even perfect training plans, aren’t made within the context of real human lives. Real lives often resemble a Wipeout challenge, with the added adversity of other people throwing bags of crap at you from all directions as you negotiate the slippery slide of school pick-ups, the bouncing balls of bills, and the wobbly wheel of simply earning a living.
Sometimes it takes all we have just to get through the day’s obstacle course. Life can throw so much crap at us that we spend all our time wading through it with none left to work on our own health and happiness. But if we don't work on our health and happiness, at some point we won't be strong enough, physically or emotionally, to keep wading. We’ll drown. In crap.
Keep afloat by looking at the wood and stop staring at the trees. See the big picture, not the brush strokes. Don’t beat yourself up over a missed workout. Not even a week’s worth of missed workouts. Don’t confuse the need to deal with the pressures of life with failure and ill discipline. Picking up a puking child from school is more important than hitting the gym. Always.
Remember why you’re trying to eat better food or follow a training plan. My bet is, whether you want to lose weight, run a 10k or look good for your partner, the ultimate, underlying reason is to try and make your life a little happier – and maybe even a little longer. Sharing a slice of birthday cake with a best friend will nearly always bring more joy than staring and salivating in envy because some chap called Dukan has said you can’t eat carbs. Ever.
Plans will go awry. But no plan survives first contact with the enemy and panic and surrender is not the answer. The best results come from simply showing up every day and trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got.
All my personal training clients have home workouts that can take as little as four minutes to complete. And if that’s all the time you have to give, then give it. Every movement, every vegetable, every lean steak all help to build a better, healthier you.
Make this year’s resolution to do the best you can with the time, opportunities and choices you have. Or more simply still, make this year’s resolution to try and create the time, opportunities and choices in the first place. Because when you’re wading through life’s poo, sometimes a little exercise and a healthy meal can be toilet roll for the soul.
PS: This year, my resolution is to study Tai Chi. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. I love its inclusiveness. A bit like running, anyone can do it at any time, regardless of age or ability. Its concepts of relaxed movement – effortless dynamism – and its marriage of physicality and mindfulness, have always struck me as the epitome of athletic endeavour.
The Movement Clinic is now hosting a class every Monday at 2pm under the expert tutelage of Karen Pounds. I started this week but very nearly missed it. I was busy wading through crap… Tai Chi proved the perfect detergent.
Click here if you would like to find out more.