We are now day 7 out of 365 and I wonder how many people have stuck to a New Year resolution. Today I offer words of wisdom from Dr. John Berardi. I hope you find them useful…
This is the part where cynics remind us that New Year’s Resolutions are ineffective and clichéd. It’s hard to disagree.
Stats on New Year’s Resolutions — especially fitness ones — are abysmal. Packed gyms on January 2 are ghost towns on March 2.
I thought about this the other day while driving home from a family function (and while trying to keep Kid #1 from punching Kid #2).
One phrase kept popping up in my mind: "Fitness in the context of a real human life…"
* All 3 of your kids are sick (at the same time)…
* Your mother-in-law is in the hospital after a heart attack (and you’re visiting daily)…
* It’s Christmas — or Thanksgiving or Passover
* Because of the holiday, you’ve got a tight deadline at work…
* When you’re stressed your lower back acts up…
…and just as you’re about to head out for the 30-minute workout you’ve been looking forward to…your dog drops a diarrhea poop on the living room carpet.
THAT, my friends, is fitness in the context of a real human life. Is it any wonder most fitness resolutions fail? If you think about it, most health and fitness plans live OUTSIDE the context of a real life:
"Here’s a 30-day detox diet to follow… and a new hardcore workout DVD…"
"Why not do a fitness competition in April… and a triathlon in August…"
"It’s time to go all-in… it’s the only way to win!"
Except that it’s not.
In my experience, this kind of all-or-nothing thinking rarely gets us all. It usually gets us *nothing*.
Because that diet plan, or workout DVD, or one-size-fits-all training program you pulled from Triathlon magazine was never built to accommodate sick kids or open heart surgery or your co-worker’s 2-week vacation. And when the insane idea that you have to do all things *perfectly* takes hold, it’s pretty damn hard to shake that feeling loose.
Sure, we can play make-believe. We can imagine a life where everything is peaceful, calm, and totally in our control all the time. But that’s a sure-fire recipe for fitness failure. Real human lives are messy and complicated. They’re unpredictable. When we learn to accept this they can also be dynamic and exciting. They can push us to grow.
That’s why — with 3 children, aging parents, active social lives, and thriving businesses — my wife and I really did make New Year’s Resolutions this year. As we always do, we plan on continuing to prioritize our health, build strength and fitness, and maybe even maintain our abs. But 2015 is our year to do it flexibly — and honestly — in the context of *our* real human lives. Our children will be fevered, snotty, and barfy. Our time will be limited. And we’ll miss last call at the gym because of doggie poo.
This year we’ll plan for all that in advance.
After we’ve cleaned up the poo and sprayed the Febreeze, we might work out in that same living room. With no weights or machines maybe we’ll jump around like maniacs so we can move our bodies while keeping an eye on the kids. Or maybe we’ll be stuck eating nasty hospital food. If so, we’ll make the best choice we can within the spectrum of choices. And then do push-ups and air squats in the cafeteria, or walk laps around the cardiac ICU. And on those rare days we’re not dealing with emergencies? Maybe we’ll soothe our control-freak souls with the Perfect Workout. Or all-day Clean Eating.
Even though neither is actually required.
Every single person I’ve seen achieve health and fitness in the long run accomplishes it by simply showing up every day, not by trying to "get it right".
In the end, I have no clue what real life will bring us in 2015. But we’re committed to doing the best we can, when we can, with whatever we’ve got. Day in and day out. I hope you are too.