Are you one of those people who has been frequenting the gym this month, sticking with your New Year’s Resolutions and feeling awesome? Good for you! You’ve made a real change and have gone after it hard. I’m writing to you and those who are feeling like your good intentions and efforts are starting to slide. Why? This is the week of “Blue Monday,” the third Monday of January and what is purported to be the most depressing day of the year. Why? A few things factor into this depression, including weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action (source).
While this is just speculation, it makes sense to me! The lack of light and cooler temps are enough to make me down at times, but the other factors described above can weigh heavy on our hearts even more. We’re back to the grind, the excitement of Christmas and holidays and New Years has died down, and reality hits after all those presents and time off work. So how do we combat this depression and stick with our goals this year?
- Change your mindset about fitness – and life!
- Get connected in a community.
- Practice Mindfulness.
- Find your purpose.
Change Your Mindset About Fitness – and Life
To expand on the first point, I want to challenge you to change the way you think about fitness. Did you make your resolution to look a certain way? Will you work out only until you see that number on the scale or feel good compared to your best friend? What about viewing fitness as a normal part of your everyday life, as something you will be doing until you die? I don’t mean to sound morbid, but movement is something that should add richness to our lives, not just a six pack, and it’s something that we we should all be doing not until we reach a goal but for the rest of our days! Australian philosopher Damon Young, author of “How to Think About Exercise,” says that “People are living sedentary lives and trying to overcome this by treating their bodies as machines needing a tuneup” (source). So what kind of view should you take when it comes to exercise? According to Young, “exercise is striving toward wholeness and a fuller life” – exactly why it’s something we should incorporate into our daily lives!
Mikey and I share a lot on our trips (which are now open for registration!) about the concept of “story.” Not just sharing your own story and listening to others’ stories, but learning to embrace all aspects of your journey and viewing the tough parts as contributing to your growth. Now we all know that hard things can lead to growth and change, but we don’t always want to hear it – it’s more like a platitude that doesn’t really help when you’re going through something hard. But think about your favorite book or movie. Without conflict, there’s no action. There’s no progression or movement to the story. If Frodo just had to mail in the ring to Mount Doom by hitching it to one of Gandalf’s huge eagles, the job would have gotten done but there would be no story to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings!
And so it is with our stories. Conflict moves us ahead. It brings change and adds depth to our stories. So whether it’s life or fitness, let’s try to change our mindset when it comes to exercising and obstacles before us.
Get Connected In a Community
If you’re struggling with your resolutions or goals, maybe what you need is a community. There are so many great fitness professionals you can follow (I think of Jill Coleman, Jen Sinkler, and Neghar Fonooni just to name a few), Facebook groups to help keep you accountable, friends you can go to the gym with, your spouse with whom you can cook a healthy meal instead of grabbing take-out. Community is everything – we just weren’t meant to live life alone and figure out our sh*t without help from others – we’re in this together! From sticking with your fitness goals to helping fight depression and moving forward in life, there are ways to get connected. Our main sources include our small group from church, making friends with clients and members at the gym for me, connecting with like-minded people online and in person even at the hospital for Mikey and staying in touch with family whom we mutually support and love.
In both your food and fitness, cultivating mindfulness is a practice that is valuable for the long-term game when it comes to seeing change. Going all-out for the first month of the year and then “falling off the wagon” simply isn’t sustainable, but finding a fitness routine and a way of eating that works for your lifestyle is ideal. I recently had a client who said she LOVES white rice but was told that she can’t eat any, and my response to her was, “Why not?” If it adds satisfaction to your meal, maybe it will help you not go overboard on the sweets later in the evening. The same is true for fitness – you do NOT have to go beast mode all the time in the gym. In fact, isn’t not even the healthiest for you!
If it’s more nutrition help you need, I can’t recommend my good friends in Calgary (who also do nutrition coaching online!) over at Elite Life & Wellness. My friend Heather also just put out this free, downloadable meal planning template if all you need is a bit of structure.
So stay mindful, practice (key word right there) moderation and trust the process. Take the long-game approach and you will be successful, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see change overnight.
Find Your Purpose
What’s YOUR reason for working out? Part of finding your “why” is looking deeper and asking another question: What barriers are there that have presented problems or will down the line? Identifying what might be stopping you from sticking with your goals is a great way to stay on track and be ready for what could happen later. Find your purpose, your reason, your why and keep that in the forefront of your mind.
Are YOU feeling blue or depressed in this season?
Have you stuck with your goals, or are you feeling stuck yourself?
Any tips to offer on this subject? I’d love to hear what’s helped you!
Let’s keep moving forward in 2015 and get fit for a fuller life! Live well & be well,