Happy February! I hope you made it through January with all of your resolutions and plans for 2018 intact. But if not, don’t freak out. There’s nothing magical about January 1! If you want to make some kind of change or create a healthy habit in your life, you can start right now. Or tomorrow. Or at 3 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.
But I’m guessing that if your resolutions have fallen by the wayside, there was some kind of stumbling block that kept you from reaching your goal, from continuing on the path toward your goal, or even from starting down that path. So today, I wanted to talk about some of the things that have held me back from reaching goals on the health and wellness front, and how you might address them.
First up: Gym intimidation
My parents are very fit. My mom has been doing aerobics since it was invented, my dad started running in the 70s, and they spend more time at the gym than most professional bodybuilders. But, growing up, I avoided the gym (and all sports/athletics except swimming and dancing) as much as possible. And while I did go to the fitness center occasionally in college, I didn’t join a gym until I was 25 years old.
I tell you that to explain that I totally get the intimidation factor. The machines in gyms can be confusing and difficult to program, the weight room can be terrifying, and walking into a new exercise class or pool can feel like that dream where you go to school naked.
However, I’ve found that showing up early for a new class and talking to the instructor ahead of time can make me feel a lot more comfortable, and when I’m going to a new pool, I always check it out and ask some questions while I’m fully clothed — not when I’m dripping water and wearing a swim cap — which makes a world of difference.
Picking your gym or fitness studio wisely can also help. If you just want access to some basic fitness equipment and don’t want to stand next to any Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alikes, a place like Planet Fitness could be awesome. If you want to use weight machines but don’t know where to start, look for a gym that has some kind of introductory program or trainers to show you how to use everything. Or, if you just want to do yoga (or spinning, or Pilates, or whatever), look for a studio that specializes in that, and take advantage of newcomer specials to make sure it’s the right place for you before you fork over a lot of money.
Worried about something different? Aaptiv, an audio fitness app, sent me this graphic to address some of the other common things that might trip you up on your path to becoming a gym VIP. (This post is not sponsored and I am not receiving any money from this app, but I thought the information was worth sharing!)
Next: Cooking and meal prep overload
It seems like everything I have read, heard, and seen posted on Facebook about healthy eating for the past few years elevates meal prep – the concept of preparing everything you’re going to eat for the week in one marathon cooking and chopping and packaging session on Sunday — to mythical status. It’s supposed to be wonderful, easy, and life-changing.
It makes me want to tear my hair out. And then order pizza.
I get it in theory, of course. Spending a few hours getting everything ready means you don’t have to spend any time during the week cooking, chopping, or putting snacks into little plastic containers. It sounds awesome, and I’m sure it IS awesome for some people. It just doesn’t work for me.
One problem is that I hate being trapped in the kitchen for hours, particularly when Toby is actually home. Another problem? We don’t like to eat the same two meals over and over again all week, so by Wednesday we’re totally over all the prepared food and ready for something new. I also find it very difficult to estimate how much food the two of us will eat, so if we don’t have way too much, we don’t have enough. And many meal prep plans stick to mostly basic types of foods (like grilled chicken and roasted vegetables), whereas I actually like more making and eating more complicated things.
What DOES work for us is planning and buying food for the whole week, but only preparing one or two meals on Sunday (and maybe some kind of breakfast item that we can eat for the whole week), then another meal or two Monday or Tuesday, and one or two more later in the week. That way, I don’t have to keep going back to the grocery store, and we also don’t have to eat the same boring thing over and over again.
I’ve been cooking almost exclusively from the “Run Fast, Eat Slow” cookbook since we got back home at the beginning of January, and I love it. The recipes are delicious and healthy, and many of them have fresh ingredients in common, which makes planning a little easier and also makes it less likely that I’ll have to throw away a bunch of produce at the end of the week. But honestly, my method of cooking a few things every two or three days could work with any kind of recipes you like.
Last: Program mismatch
Do you ever feel like everyone you know is on the same diet? Or that every article you read is praising the same workout?
Often, my first reaction to this information is, “That sounds insane.” But, after hearing all the stories and seeing results from several people I know, I start to come around. After all, if it worked for my college roommate, my next-door neighbor, Toby’s co-worker and my cousin, maybe it will change my life, too!
Unfortunately, not every program works for every person. Maybe running hurts your knees, or you decide on Day 4 of Whole 30 that a life without a cheese is not one worth living. Maybe the way your barre instructor calls butts “seats” drives you nuts, or kale makes your digestive system rebel against you. Or, like Maureen in “Center Stage,” you have the feet, but you don’t have the heart.
Whatever it is, don’t beat yourself up over it, learn from it! Trying things that worked really well for other people has taught me that working out early in the morning turns me into a zombie by 2 p.m., and that I’m much more likely to show up for an exercise class if I’m meeting a friend or stand to lose money by not going.
You might even realize that something you totally thought you wanted to do—like run a marathon, or go vegan, or backpack around the world—is not quite as awesome in reality as it was in your head. So find a new goal that’s better for you! And then crush it.
Want to read more about setting resolutions and making 2018 your most badass year yet? Read my friend Haunani’s blog post on the subject here. And to learn more about creating healthy habits, check out The Regimen!