Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The New Year Means Gym Resolutions Right?

Motivation gets you started but purpose is what will keep you going

Someone on a martial arts message board proclaimed he would work out every day and invited everyone to follow his journey. He was convinced. All he had to do was exercise, how hard could that be?

That was one year ago this January and he stopped making updates shortly after his proclamation. Finally he came forward to admit it didn't last long and he's now worse off than he was a year ago.

He said he realized it was extremely difficult because it wasn't about adding exercise. It was really a lifestyle change and a mental change. Things he couldn't handle and is why he failed. He now regrets doing this publicly but last January he was so motivated. He didn't realize motivation is temporary.

Many make this same mistake. Your mindset is what needs the most help. That's tough to do on your own and words like MOTIVATIONRESOLUTION, and "NEW YEAR" are holding you back.

Why? Language is a tool, and the words you use will define you. When you look at strong people (mental not physical), they hardly use words like try, can't, and in this case motivation and resolution.

Yes the year has changed but this doesn't mean you automatically have. Nor is it a promise that you will. Though we wishfully like to believe so. Change takes effort and if left unattended, skepticism, fear and panic sets in. We want to believe it'll just happen on it's own and it's set to roll out Jan 1. It may, but not changes for the better, just changes for the more convenient.

We like to believe the longer we wait, maybe in the New Year we'll somehow be less "lazy." It's probably safer to assume you'll be less motivated and lazier about your health next year than you were about it this year. Putting things off, isn't that your classic MO? Then how is that steps to change?

You need motivation for chores, things you can't get yourself to do, things you won't keep doing. It's already associated with those burdens, why associate something that has to do with improving yourself for the better and making you happier with those other things?

If you make changes often and pro-actively go after things you want and need, why would you need to set a resolution? Resolutions are things you don't want to do, things you want to delay. If you really wanted to do it, why would you delay until the new year? Why does it have to be on a mental pedestal? And if it is on a pedestal, your anxiety around it grows. The success rate of any resolution is low. How low?

Let's break it down...

Here comes the Resolutioners

The number 1 resolution every year is weight loss by a large margin.

The 5th most popular resolution is to keep the weight they've already lost off, and stay healthy.

The other popular ones being: being more organized, quitting smoking, falling in love, spending less saving more, learn something new, spend more time with family, helping others, and live life to the fullest.

Out of everyone who talked about joining a gym, after Christmas only 26% of them will actually join or renew their membership.

The less happy you are, the more likely you are to set a resolution. The less happy you are, the less likely you'll achieve your resolution.

Only 75% of people will maintain their resolution after a week.

After 6 months 70% will quit and stop going to the gym entirely.

Out of the ones still going:

50% will go once a week.
13% will go every day.
10% less than once a month.

Only 8% of Americans who make resolutions are successful.

Why Delay

As Richard Branson said "Screw it, let's do it." 

Start before you're ready. That's what many successful people do. Why do you have to wait? Learn as you go. Because if all you do is delay, all you may be learning is how to delay even further. Feeling ready is as mystical of a feeling as enlightenment. You keep hearing about this feeling but does it even exist? Does it matter? How long will you wait until this magical feeling comes along? Screw it, just do it.


Instead of motivation, I talk to my clients about purpose. Why would you achieve and maintain any goal if there is no purpose (reason) for you having it? Motivated just means you're interested or entertained. You need something far more powerful than that if you actually want to get it and keep it indefinitely. Statistically motivation only works for temporary changes not long term or indefinite changes.

You have to have a mindset of doing something for the long haul. Understanding that it will get worse before it gets better. You need resilience. All of this is a complicated way to say, the difference between people who achieve and people who don't is "staying power." Motivation has nothing to do with staying power, but purpose sure does.

I ask all of my clients to declare their purpose. Many who come in January write something like, "this time I will be committed", "not give up", "finish what I start." People are very self aware of their inability to commit to fitness. So why not spend more time creating a committed mindset instead of constantly playing musical chairs with your health?

Lessons from a tutor

I have a client who is also fantastic tutor. She learned early on, to be successful with her students, she has to affect a change in the parents otherwise nothing will work. If the parents aren't engaged, why would the child be? If the parents don't ever read, why would the child read? This has been her magic and is the reason why she's one of the most sought out education specialists in LA.

We can do exercises, try to keep it interesting, oversee your form, but if we don't affect a mental change, why would any of it matter? Why would you keep doing any of the things you learned? If the biggest limiting factor in doing any of this is motivation and that's a mental thing, then why aren't we addressing that weakness head on?

I guess if our industry did, there would be no repeat customers.


Instead of a resolution, you need drive. You aren't too lazy, you're not driven. Driven people don't get accused of being lazy, it's directly related and one can't exist in the presence of the other.

You'll only be driven if you care, if you're engaged, if something has to do with your core beliefs, your purpose in life. From fitness to everything else, they're all just expressions of your purpose in life. And doing them will positively affect every aspect of your life and those around you. It's an extension of you, the question is, what are you all about?

Stop looking for motivation or resolutions or other external things. Look within yourself, and find yourself, what you care about, what you're really about. The answer isn't out there, it's inside you. It may sound corny or new age, but it's not. It's just practical, if the problem is you, then to solve it, you have to change you. If there is a problem with management in a restaurant, don't change the menu, change management.

Stop living on the surface, create some depth. Do some soul searching.

Taking yoga classes or having exercise as a part of a routine or caring about fitness only because of how it will make you look is not depth. You lost a lot of weight, great but that's not necessarily depth. You're part of a fitness tribe, great but that's not necessarily depth either. You ran a marathon, and so on and so on, it's not depth. Start from the inside and work your way out, not the other way around. If any of these activities conform to your true purpose and values, do them. Don't do them thinking it'll add meaning to your life.

The New Year But Same You

No one is invested in you failing, no one will get paid a large sum of money if you don't get healthy. It's all in your head, others can make it difficult but you can't always control others, you can only control your own reactions and responses. That's your power. You can think the solution is a new exercise, a new class, a new diet, a new pill, a new trainer, but those are all external solutions for an internal situation.

People in fitness love the new year, it's very lucrative. Telling you, that you don't need to change, they created a system of a diet or a pill that will create results in spite of you not changing is how they make money. They will pander to you, enable you, conform to you, adhere to you, tell you you can train with your friend, train you at your home, train you whenever you feel like it, that you don't need to step out of your comfort zone, and it's a huge part of the reason the success rate is only 8%. It's insanity and we're going to keep doing it over and over unless we change. It starts now.

Happiness is not always pleasurable

Nor is it always fun. So we stop, we give it up for things that make us comfortable but in the long run we're just as unhappy as we always were. Meaningful things aren't always pleasurable, but they add meaning to our lives and last for a long time. Happiness is about meaning and we far too often sacrifice happiness for comfort. We mistake fun and entertainment for happiness. Are you really setting resolutions because you really care that much about weight loss, or do you do it believing that somehow losing weight will make you happier? Do you understand happiness and pleasure/fun/entertainment/comfort are not the same things? If you don't, then you'll be back to setting the same resolution next year. You're not overweight because you don't exercise enough, you're probably over weight because you make a lot of decisions in your life based around pleasure or gratification.

Buddha said desire is the path to misery (that's the translation), what he was really taking about was gratification and pleasure. It's an endless miserable chase. It was the problem then and it's still the relevant problem for many.

You can't out exercise poor choices.

Sometimes it'll be boring, sometimes you won't like it, like most important things in life. Here's a crazy bit of trivia, boring people change the world and create exciting changes. They do boring things like wake up early, write things down, wear similar clothes (see Steve Jobs and that famous black shirt), write down goals, greet people, analyze numbers, read, etc.

WAKE UP! Exercise was never meant to be the exciting part, change is! And if you prioritize it the wrong way, you're setting yourself up for future failure. So many out of shape people used to be fit and active kids. Why? Because you only want to do it if it's the most fun option there is, and now no matter how exciting a fitness DVD is, there's more exciting stuff out there like video games, phone apps, and hanging out with friends.

Eating is WAY more exciting than exercise ever will be. That's the truth.

Don't do it because it's the most fun thing out there, do it because you want to change and change is exciting! Imagine if you thought about your career or school like you did fitness and your goals were only about how you look and it being fun, how would you get anywhere? Why would you go to work or school? Oh yeah you go because it's important and growth and change is exciting.

What's a friend?

A friend is someone who wants to help and encourage you to become a better person. An accomplice is someone who will sit there and eat cake all day with you. Someone who will keep you the same way you are, or worse yet bring you further down. Both may be friendly, but one is a whole lot more invested in you. Are you surrounded by friends or accomplices? Do they want to uplift you or sulk with you? Do they want to make you better or help you get in trouble? Are you yourself a friend or an accomplice to others? Perhaps many people you're hired to help you on your journey were really your accomplices, maybe even those you love were and are your accomplices. How often did you pick an accomplice over someone who demanded more of you? Comfort over change?

Get over it!

If you want to achieve what you want, not only do you have to have a purpose, but you need to get over it. You need to get over the intimidation. The self criticism. That you can't believe you let yourself get this out of shape. That you think others are judging you. That you aren't good enough. That it's a slow process. That you're in it for the long haul. That it's not always fun. That you can accomplish other things so easily yet this is so difficult. That you needed a resolution to do this. That you waited so long. And for some, the idea that you had to hire someone to help you in this process. GET OVER IT!

Whatever problems you have with this process, get over it and be productive. Be a team player because this team only has one member and it's you, and your problem is with yourself. You'll try to blame things, blame others, project your insecurities to everyone and everything else. Get over it.

Remember Yoda said, do or do not, there is no try. The Dark Side speaks in the language of doubt.

Read about mental strength: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Avoid

Share this:
All Out Effort is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to