Beginning with the leftover Halloween candy that may or may not be in your house still, we are entering arguably the most challenging time of the year from a will power perspective. With a short lead up to Thanksgiving, followed by a week of leftovers, countless Holiday parties and an abundance of Christmas cookies in the office, nutritional choices tend to become extremely difficult this time of year. With that, also comes a lack of motivation to get into the gym (especially if you haven’t been on a consistent routine up to this point).
This time of the year is a prime example of the “What the Hell Effect.” If you haven’t achieved your goals at this point in the year, most will chalk up 2019 as a loss and look forward to January where they can start “fresh.”
I urge you though, to consider the fact that you can still save your 2019 fitness goals, and springboard yourself into a BADASS 2020 over the course of these next 6 weeks. Let’s throw the brakes on and explore why it’s so important to make a lifestyle change right now.
It’s Not Too Late
6 weeks is a lot of time to make a positive lifestyle change. According to a study done by Phillipa Lilly in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes about 66 days for an action to become a habit. That’s a little over 9 weeks- which proves that the time is now to make a positive change in your lifestyle- because most New Year’s Resolutions only last about 3 weeks. If you make a positive change and stick with it the next 6 weeks, and you combined that with the natural ‘3-ish week’ motivation window post-New Year, you’ll be at your 9 week mark- and you’ll have yourself a positive habit for the entire year!
Granted, you must be realistic with your expectations, and understand that 20 pounds isn’t just going to melt off- nor should you want that either. Remember, we should always strive for sustainable change, which usually occurs more slowly. Over the course of the next 6 weeks though you can make the following positive changes that will easily carry over to 2020:
- Get on a solid gym routine
- Start a new workout program
- Evaluate your nutrition, leading up to the Holidays
- Start thinking about your 2020 goals and use this time as a buildup
Get on a Solid Gym Routine
If you’ve been lackadaisical with getting to the gym after summer ended, or maybe even all year, now is the time to get back into the routine. These next 6 weeks are absolutely key, because if you can get yourself rolling now, then you can ride the tidal wave of motivation in January much longer into 2020. Outside of peak hours, almost across the board gyms now aren’t insanely packed because so many people have thrown in the towel on the year. Avoid trying to establish your routine amidst the New Year’s chaos in the gym- that causes such intimidation and anxiety- and get yourself established on a good routine now!
Tip: Get Up Early!
Try to put aside the excuses that have been plaguing your 2019 gym attendance for the next several weeks as well. Prioritize yourself and don’t let “I don’t have time to exercise,” define your year. The way to combat this is to get yourself to bed earlier in the evening and consequently up earlier in the morning- if you exercise first thing in the morning, usually the only thing that gets in your way is YOU. The danger of waiting to train until later in the day is life always seems to get in the way. If you’re not already on a consistent gym routine as it is, you are much more likely to allow life events to interfere with your gym time.
Start a New Workout Program
Once you’re on a solid gym routine, now it’s time to look at the workout you’re currently doing. If you’re not confident in writing your own workout, this is when you’ll want to turn to a coach. Whether it’s a personal trainer at your local gym, or a coach you follow on social media- almost everyone sells workout programs. Granted, some are certainly better than others and you’ll have to use your discretion when choosing- but the bottom line is find yourself a slightly different workout routine to follow.
Your ‘new workout’ doesn’t have a to be a complete overhaul either. If you’ve been following the same basic workout routine for several months, or even years, I urge you to take the next 6 weeks and change something up about it. Even if you just change something as simple as the exercise order, or the even the day you perform a certain workout, you’ll naturally feel a little bit more motivation to go through the exercises …in other words, if you’ve been doing Chest on Monday’s the last 2 years, switch it up the next 6 weeks!
The advantage to having a plan in the gym-especially a new one- is it will give you something to work towards. Rather than just showing up to the gym and throwing some weights around a few times a week, a structured program will allow for you to have a sense of purpose when you get into the gym. Find something to work towards these next 6 weeks, and it will give your workouts a little extra spice to get through the holiday season!
Evaluate Your Nutrition Leading Up to the Holidays
It’s not Thanksgiving Day that’s the problem relating to poor nutritional choices. Or even Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. The issue is the days and weeks surrounding the holidays that cause everyone to fly off the handle bars with their nutrition. I am a big proponent of living a full life, so I would never recommend sacrificing your favorite dish on a holiday in the name of a ‘diet;’ however, I would highly suggest you take a hard look at your nutritional habits as we lead up to the Holiday season.
Rather than sampling a pie or two a week to try to decide which one to bring to Thanksgiving dinner- leave that temptation alone. Embrace the holiday spirit without fully submitting to letting it hijack your health. If you want to taste test a dish or two before Thanksgiving, by all means, do so! Just make sure to contain it and don’t let the flood gates open.
As I mentioned in one of my earliest blogs, focus on the 90% rule. If you can keep your meals nutritiously wholesome 90% of the time, you’re going to get great results. Breaking down our meals per week that comes to 19 out of 21 meals should be healthy (based on a 3 main meal per day model). On the week of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, maybe that ‘19’ turns more into 13 or 14, however, the key remains, still getting your high quality meals in. Just because it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas week, doesn’t mean we should have Christmas cookies for breakfast every day.
The better handle you have on your nutrition leading up to the holidays, the easier you’ll handle the special nutritional occasion. Conversely though, if you’re in a “screw it” mode with your diet at this point in the year- which is very common, don’t be upset- then the holiday season will be particularly challenging. Again, use this 6 week period to get into some great habits nutritionally so when you feel the rush of motivation in the New Year, you already have your habits set.
Some very simple areas to look at nutritionally in the next 6 weeks could be:
- Eat more vegetables
- Be aware of portion size
- Drink more water
- Drink less alcohol
- Eat less cardboard carbohydrates on a daily basis (crackers, chips, cookies, etc.)
- Focus on the 19/21 good meals – 90% rule
- Begin practicing meal prep for your weekly meals
Never Too Early to Start Thinking About 2020 Goals
If you need a little extra motivation to finish the year strong, tie the next 6 week’s workouts and nutritional choices into an overarching goal(s) for 2020. A perfect example would be simply signing up for a 5k or Half Marathon for Spring of 2020 and slowly beginning a more aerobic based workout routine over the next 6 weeks to build towards that. Or maybe you want your New Year’s goal to be consistently hitting an extra day in the gym per week- get in that routine now, so that by the time January comes, it’s already a routine that you can sustain all year long.
Keep in mind, even the most unmotivated individuals will feel a sense of renewal in the New Year. This wave of motivation typically lasts only about 2-3 weeks before reality sets back in. The best way to capitalize on this wave of motivation is to get your goals in order now, and lay the ground work for achieving them. The better your routine is heading into the New Year, the more likely you’ll be able to achieve your goals year-round; rather than yo-yoing back to your ‘normal-self’ come February.
I challenge you to go against the grain over the next several weeks. Resist the temptation 0f rationalizing your actions with “I’ll start fresh in January.” If we’re being realistic, you’ll most likely try to make some changes in the New Year, but next year at this point you’ll be in the exact same position. If you want to make sustainable change, do it now. Stop waiting for the New Year.
Grind through the next 6 weeks until January, then ride the wave of motivation right into 2020 and you’ll be amazed at how your New Year’s Resolutions will finally be realized!
Yours in Fitness and Health,
Your Final Reward Will Be Heartache and Tears, If You’ve Cheated the Guy in the Glass.