I am convinced the main purpose of New Year's resolutions is to reduce fitness and increase weight gain. This must be the case because because prior to implementing New Year's weight loss or fitness goals, most people go on a binge to celebrate their supposed last few weeks of overeating and not exercising.
So really New Year's resolutions are about justifying current poor health choices because you're going to fix it all in the near future anyway.
It's a great system. It's durable. Most people succeed in gaining more weight every year by making promises to lose weight later.
Anytime I've made a change for the better in how I eat, exercise, or handle stress, it has never correlated with New Year's. For those who I know personally that have been successful with healthy living changes, none of them made these changes on New Year's day. I'm not saying nobody has ever succeeded with New Year's resolutions, the stats seem to show that around 90% of people fail to follow through which leaves room for a small minority to squeak by.
I am willing to bet though that the '10 percenters' that made it had worked at making the changes for quite some time and New Year's was not the real catalyst that cemented their success, but merely a coincidental convenience.
Main reasons why New Year's resolutions have not been on my radar:
My ability to change my habits is not some how genetically tied to our calendar; it isn't as though I can only lose weight or gain fitness after New Year's day and not a day earlier. If this were true training for bike racing would really suck as I would only have this small window every year to make all my gains.
The time immediately prior to New Year's is not the only time of the year I have the opportunity to contemplate or realize that I can do better.
I will benefit from healthy changes the moment I start implementing them. What would be the point of waiting until New Year's? The thought never crossed my mind.
When I decided to quit smoking it was summer, not New Year's. When I decided that since I didn't really like the taste or affect of booze that I may as well stop drinking it.. well I can't remember what time of year that was, but it wasn't New Year's, and it wasn't really that sudden of a decision it just seemed to fade out.
One of the biggest changes in how and why I make healthy exercise choices was deciding to take the courses offered from the National Coaching Certification Program through Coaching Canada. I took the course because at the age of 18 I couldn't afford a full time coach to teach me how train better. Learning what coaches know seemed a reasonable solution.
The courses got me started on learning sport science and how the body adapts to exercise. I was so excited to learn how to train the right way I immediately implemented what I learned. None of this had anything at all to do with New Year's.
In 2012 I won a gold medal in the Manitoba Provincial Mountain Bike championships. My god did I ever suck bad at mountain biking before that. While I made huge improvements my gold medal was in the lowest category. I went from last place to first place. I'm pretty happy with that. In 2013 I'll move up a category. I'm very excited about that.
Absolutely none of my improvements can be connected in any way to New Year's. The reality is, it took me three years of consistant training and technical skills practicing to gradually increase my competitive performance a little bit at a time with several short term set backs along the way.
Those who are successful with New Year's resolutions could have implemented change at any time of year. It will not be New Year's that makes them successful, it will be that they already contemplated what to do and how to do it, and that they would have set realistic goals. With a continuance of achieving small and realistic goals they would have nurtured motivation to continue.
This process of change is fairly ubiquitous. We all go through a similar process of change when we take on new and better things to help improve our health. This process can start anytime, anywhere.
I have zero New Year's resolutions for this year, but I do have goals that I want to achieve:
I want to learn how to do a proper bunny hop on my mountain bike! Currently I cheat too much by simply jumping straight up with clipless pedals. I've become dependant on the cheat move and need to learn the right way.
I love mountain biking
At age 46 being active in a sport has definitely played a huge role in staying fit and achieving higher goals.
At times I'll go crazy eating way too much chocolate. Seriously, it's too much. I always feel like crap afterwards. I've managed to nearly kill this one off, but every so often I go through a period where I lose it and the appeal of instant gratification from a mega chocoholic meltdown beats down my rational thinking. Sure, I recover and get back to normal but the behaviour isn't healthy and I don't want to fall into that trap of believing that overdoing it to the extreme is validated simply because it tastes good at the moment.
I'm not going to quit chocolate; I'm going to quit chocolate pig-outs.
I suck at math. I've downloaded apps to practice math on the iPhone and iPad and got started with Khan Academy. I'm finally overcoming my life long fear of complex math and it feels great!
These are goals I am currently making progress with. None of them had any connection with New Year's and I wasn't about to put off the benefits until New Year's.
The New Year's thing may or may not work for you. My 2 cents is that you'll have a better chance of success in believing in yourself rather than believing in a date.
Things that make change successful:
Go here for an article I wrote on setting and achieving goals
Previous New Year's posts
New Year's Stuff (2010)
New Year's Resolutions Already Dying Off (January 2010)