Contributed by Lindsay Cline
It was December 2018. I had been living in a place of unwellness for two years. I had not exercised, I had consumed loads of processed food and sugar and alcohol, and I was sick.
But I was spending New Year’s Eve in Eureka Springs, Arkansas – a place with a certain kind of magic. I believe that traveling has the power to induce significant lifestyle changes. Something about the change of scenery and the anonymity reminded me that humans have the power to wake up tomorrow and be absolutely anyone they want. A new person living a new life.
Maybe it was this certain kind of Eureka Springs magic that made my 2018 New Year’s resolution to regain my health stick. Or maybe, just maybe, I had accidentally used the perfect combination of science and intention to propel me into the elusive 8% of people who are actually successful in achieving their resolutions.
That’s right. A study from the University of Scranton revealed that 92% of well-intentioned New Year’s resolutioners fail … and 80% of them fail by February.
So what was different about the words I used and the goals I set on that cold, rainy December night in Eureka Springs?
1) I was focused on the positive. One of the catalysts for my change was a steep hill right outside of the bed and breakfast where we were staying. At the top of that hill was an amazing view, antique shops galore, the best Italian restaurant in town and the “most haunted hotel in America.” All the things I really wanted to check out required a cardio session to enjoy. I watched other families making the trek with what appeared to be ease, and I wanted to feel that, too. It was that hill that really made me realize just how much attention I needed to give my health. By focusing on what I wanted the end goal to be (to enjoy outdoor activities with ease) instead of the problem (I was overweight and living an unhealthy lifestyle), my mindset was immediately in the right place for success. Rather than thinking about the unhealthy behaviors that you want to change, focus on the healthy behaviors that you want to adopt. A simple shift in mindset can have BIG results.
2) I shared my goals. Quickly. I told my husband I was DONE, and then I blasted my journey all over social media. Sharing my experience and my goals with others accomplished more than one objective – it not only recruited an instant network of support, but it also helped me define (and redefine) what I hoped to achieve and WHY I wanted to do it.
3) I worked on small steps. I had two goals at the very beginning – eliminate alcohol and exercise 30 minutes a day. That’s it. It didn’t matter if the exercise consisted of walking, dancing, cleaning, sprinting or just doing a ton of arm circles all day. If my fitness tracker said I had accomplished 30 minutes of exercise a day, it had been achieved. And on that note…
4) I wore a fitness tracker, and it absolutely helped to turn my life around. A good tracker that gives you gentle lifestyle nudges can be an amazing assistant on your journey to health. I had no idea just how sedentary I was without the tracker explaining to me that it had been an hour since I stood up or that I’d only burned a couple hundred calories all day.
5) I practiced radical self-forgiveness. Eat an entire bag of potato chips? Big deal. Accidentally find yourself in the drive-thru line? So what? Even the healthiest of people eat too many chips sometimes. The difference – they don’t do it again the next day. Forgive it and move on. And while we’re talking about this – you also don’t have to increase your workouts to make up for this kinda stuff. Just go back to normal. It’s fine. Promise.
6) I had fun. I figured out pretty quickly that the method of exercise I had previously enjoyed was just not bringing me joy. I needed new activities, and I had fun finding them. I played around with running, walking, cycling, HIIT, group fitness workouts, yoga and Pilates – rather than sticking with just one form, I changed it up often.
7) I didn’t crash diet. Y’all, there is one way to lose weight and keep it off. Burn more calories than you consume. That’s it. And if you try to lose it super quickly, it’s gonna be miserable, and you will quit. Go slow. Slow is happy.
8) I put myself first. And this one is non-negotiable. Nothing – not work, not family, not friends, not anything – got between me and my workouts. I would shift them around if necessary or move them to different locations, but they happened every day and everywhere I was.
Above all, if you choose to make health resolutions this year, remember to be kind to yourself. 2020 was rough enough without the added abuse of telling ourselves we failed. Let’s go into 2021 with the renewed understanding of just how precious and sacred health truly is. Move closer toward that.
Lindsay Cline is an ACE-certified health coach and Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher (NCPT®). She shares fitness and nutrition tips via her social media platforms – find her at @TheWellLindsay.