We’re nearly 10 days into a shiny new year that started with everyone feeling sluggish and bloated and swearing that this really IS the year when they’re going to GET FIT and do the thing. But by now you’ve probably already skipped a gym session, or remembered how hard it is to fit in a run when you’re at work all day. Maybe you’re already thinking “I’ll start again next tomorrow/next week/ February/2021”
Well, that’s ok. Because we all know New Years Resolutions are goals that are made to be broken and if “fitness” was your goal this year then you should probably ditch it anyway.
It’s really hard work
Seriously, it is, like, really hard work. Getting fit, and more importantly *staying* fit is like another job all of itself. You have to have workout schedules, and meal plans, long and short-term goals and quarterly reviews.
That’s fine when you’re in the zone, but then, when it’s Christmas, or your birthday, or Tuesday afternoon and it’s already been a really long week, what then?
Sometimes you just don’t want your downtime to be as much hard work as your job, and that’s ok.
Does it REALLY matter?
Honestly, when you think about “getting fit” and this time it’s definitely going to stick, what do you imagine?
Do you see yourself running Marathons for fun? Competing in Powerlifting competitions? Are you prepping for the Olympics?
No, then why bother? Why do you need to be able to run a sub 2 hour half marathon, or deadlift 200kg? Who *really* cares?
Or maybe what you really see is you being happy, feeling super hot in your lycra gym kit and being able to surprise people by lifting heavy suitcases.
Fit is For Life
Getting fit just isn’t a thing. You can complete that 12-week program to the letter, and you still won’t be fit. You’ll be fitter than you were, maybe. Or maybe you’ll have jumped in too fast and got injured and won’t be able to do anything.
And once you’re done, then what?
The problem with constantly having the idea that this time you’re going to get fit, is that you never think of yourself as a fit person. You’re constantly chasing an end of level prize that doesn’t exist.
Fix Your Focus
So instead of constantly worrying about some idea of what “fit” looks like, it’s time to start thinking of your health as a whole person. Focus on finding YOUR fit, right NOW. Not someone else’s version of it, or even your version of it 10 years ago.
Going through a rough patch at work? What helps? For some people a long run blows away the cobwebs, for others, it’s extra stress on an already overloaded nervous system. Go for a long walk instead, or book a Yoga class. Focus on what makes you feel good, because after all, that’s what all this getting fit lark is supposed to do, right?
If you can keep moving and feel good, then in the future there will be time again for chasing deadlift PBs and running Marathons and you’ll never have to start from zero.
So what should we do instead?
Instead of focussing on “fitness” as a goal, think about keeping moving. Every day.
Look for something you can sustain for the rest of your life, or at least the next 6 months. What’s important is to keep going, learn to love moving your body.
Make New Habits
If you want to get fit then you need to BE fit, forever, and that means making keeping moving something you just do, as part of your life. If you’re goal-oriented then get yourself a Fitbit and aim to hit those 10000 steps every day. Or commit to going for a run 4 times a week, even if it’s only a mile because you’re tired, or you couldn’t be bothered.
I use a Habit Tracker I made myself (download it here!) to set intentions for the week and at the end of each week I can see how successful I was. If I didn’t hit it this week, that’s ok, because I probably did more than I would have, and there’s always next week.
Be Kind, but Challenge Yourself
So, just because we’ve given up rigidly sticking to 12-week gym programs or relentlessly chasing a heavier and heavier bench press, that doesn’t mean giving up on goals completely.
Instead, be honest about where you are in your life and set yourself appropriate challenges. Book yourself a 10k race, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit your time goal, or if you’re slower than you were last year.
Climb a mountain, learn to swim, anything you haven’t done before that will keep you moving and motivated.
Keep that gym membership, even if you can only manage 2 half-hour sessions a week right now. It’s fine to occasionally just keep ticking over, it’s always better than giving up and waiting till January to start again in a fit of enthusiasm.
Remember, a healthy life is more than a 45 minute 10k or a 100kg squat. It’s about managing stress, eating well (most of the time), keeping a general good activity level and understanding what your body needs right now.
So walk to the shop and buy cake today, run a really slow 5k on Sunday and then book in for a Yin Yoga class on Wednesday. Or run 5 marathons a week if that’s what you feel the urge to do right now.
Please don’t cancel your gym subscription, burn your sports bra or turn your running shoes into plant pots. You need those things. They can be the building blocks of a life you actually enjoy, you just need to learn to love them.
You don’t have to love exercise, but you can learn to love how you feel once you’ve done it.
Life is constantly changing. Whether it’s the weather, your workload, family pressures or your health, there will always be something that will change your goals and if you have a set idea of what fit should be it’s easy to get derailed and do nothing at all.
Fit is a state of mind, not a destination.