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Friday, December 27, 2013

Set Yourself Up for Failure: 7 New Years Resolutions Sure to Crash & Burn

Go with goals: They are specific, measurable, and have a deadline
“Don’t waste your money or my time,” I firmly told my would-be client, who replied with a Did you really just say that? look.

Yes, I did.

Immediately after our complimentary initial consultation, my client began rattling off excuses about why she could commit but that lots of stuff would get in her way.

You know the story. She has erratic work hours; she’s in a crazy on-again-off-again relationship; she may or may not be going to Maui in March. Altogether, I counted seven excuses within 15 minutes, and I wasn’t buying any of them.

If you’re not going to fully commit to fitness goals, spend your money and time
elsewhere. Seriously. Take a two-week vacation, hit the Barneys after-Christmas sale, or give to charity. If you buy a gym membership or hire a personal trainer and then don’t fully utilize those services, you’re literally throwing money away.

Fully utilize, by the way, means developing concrete steps to meet your goals, giving your workouts everything you have, and not creating clever excuses to half-ass things. Otherwise, you’re just showing up and wasting time.

Strategies, Not Resolutions
Listen, resolutions are fun to create. Mentally we start brainstorming in the fall, and by December’s end we’ve got our plan more or less in place.

Or do we? After all, plunking down a bundle of cash for services or a gym membership is easy. Finding the time and dedication, not so easy.

Worse still, I see too many people creating resolutions that should have been retired along with acid-washed jeans and big hair. They don’t work, they never worked, yet every year I see women’s magazines and Facebook pages and so-called health and fitness gurus promoting these so-called worth resolutions.

What’s the definition of insanity? Doing something repeatedly when you know it doesn’t work. These seven refuse-to-die resolutions pop up year after year. Can we make 2014 the year we retire them permanently?

1.    Take up running. Oh, I get it: The exhilaration of purchasing new shoes and gear. Beautiful mornings watching the sun rise along the lake as Miley Cyrus blasts on your iPod. That post-exercise endorphin rush. Let’s be honest. For many people, running can become a time-zapping addiction with detrimental long-term consequences. Even if you do have hours to spend every week pounding the pavement, you’re burning up precious muscle tissue, spiking stress hormones, and creating irrecoverable damage to your joints. Yes, jogging does all that and more, but try explaining that to junkies who’ve got to get their morning run. Exercise should be challenging, but it shouldn’t create irreparable wear-and-tear on your body. Just say no. If you’re itching to run, try sprinting. You’ll get a far better bang for your buck without the time commitment or damaging aftermath.
2.     Sign up at your local Crossfit gym. Earlier this year I wrote about this refuse-to-go-away fitness crave, which has become all the rage among middle-American soccer moms but ultimately sets the stage for disaster. Make sure you’ve got good health insurance if you take up Crossfit, because amateur trainers coupled with a brutal regimen practically invite injuries. You’ve got plenty of safer, equally ass-kicking options to get fit and strong. A personal trainer would be a great place to design a fitness protocol that couples safety principles (proper form, anyone?) with a customized, goal-oriented workout.
3.     Begin the master cleanse. Why this nonsensical cayenne-maple-lemon concoction doesn’t die out shows just how desperate we are to lose weight. Yes, you will probably lose weight – I said weight, not fat, which is what you want to lose – on the master cleanse or whatever juice detox your receptionist is doing, but it will cost you in precious muscle. You see, most cleanses and detoxes are nothing more than sugar water, and your body demands protein to detoxify. Without dietary protein, your body starts breaking down muscle. Ultimately, you could create more damage than good. I’m all for a smart, professionally designed detoxification plan that includes lean protein, healthy fats, eggs and other high-sulfur foods, high-fiber fruits and veggies, as well as optimal nutrients to help your body detoxify. But you’re not going to get any of that with fad cleanses and detoxes.
4.     Get a six-pack. Oh, I know your favorite underwear model sports one, and he or she sure as hell looks sexy in the new People. But if ripped abs are the only reason you signed on for the 12-pack trainer package, you’re missing the far bigger picture. A clean diet, the right nutrients, and a regular weight-training program can help you lean out and actually see your abs, plus you’ll get a zillion other “bonuses” like better health, disease protection, and increased libido.
5.     Create a perfect diet. Over a deep-dish pepperoni, with a big sliver of tiramisu coming up for dessert, you vow 2014 will be the year you go 100% Paleo. Or 100% vegan. Or whatever. Confine yourself to a strict, no-wiggle-room agenda and you’ve set the stage to crash and burn around, say, January 11. I’m all for eating cleanly, but the occasional indulgence can actually work in your favor metabolically and hormonally. Just know when to say when. If one turtle brownie becomes an all-day gorge-fest, step away from the dessert and make yourself a nice kale chicken salad STAT.
6.     Work out harder. American society rewards doers. We admire those super-moms (and super-dads) who juggle two jobs while raising three kids and volunteering as their hobby.  I’m all for working hard, but overdoing it can create adrenal fatigue, sleep deprivation, and outrageous stress levels. Work out smarter, not harder. Over-training can mean working out too much at the gym or spending too many hours at your office desk. As with all things, balance is key. Workout and work hard, but also create time for rest, recovery, and recharging. I recommend massages as often as you can afford them. Yoga, deep breathing, and mediation provide more accessible daily ways to help your body repair and recover.
7.     Give it the old college try. Resolutions often die quickly (if they even get off the ground at all) because we don’t create concrete goals to make them happen. Get into my size 4 skinny jeans by April or build fab biceps like Madonna make fantastic goals, but if you don’t have a strategy to make them happen, they probably won’t. Go bold this year and – pardon the language – make shit happen. “Do. Or do not,” Yoda says. “There is no try.” Many people tried at their resolutions last year. They’re probably making those same resolutions this year. (Although hopefully, not the seven resolutions I’ve debunked here!) At year’s end, will you look back and say I tried to do these things or I created a concrete plan and DID these things? The choice is yours.

Your turn: What’s one resolution you know ultimately fails but you see people doing it anyway, year after year?

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s toasting to a healthy, lean, strong 2014!
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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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