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Read this before starting your New Year’s Resolution.

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Anyone who has ever been a regular member of a gym for some time understands what happens on January 1st of every year. The gym fills up with multiple people with New Year’s Resolutions and dreams of finally looking, feeling, and living better. Dumbbells are scattered throughout the gym, the bench press is being used up, and you can’t get to your favorite flexing spot in the mirror. Forget about getting on the elliptical. It’s chaos. Utter pandemonium.

Then, in anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months time, the numbers dwindle. Gone are the dreams and New Years Resolutions. The fresh running shoes that were unwrapped at Christmas now sit in a closet, sad and lonely. Your favorite flexing spot eagerly awaits your return. What happened?

This beginning-of-the-year routine is so common across our culture that we’ve come to expect it. Gym meme’s circle the Internet every year, predicting the same outcome. And every year, it happens again.

Unfortunately, this often happens for a number of reasons, making it a difficult problem to address. However, here are a few suggestions that can help you keep on track with your New Year’s Resolution and finally get the results you’ve been searching for.

Tell someone about it. A lot of us have this goofy idea that we are going to improve ourselves while no one is looking. “I’ll stop drinking Dr. Pepper” or “I’ll stop smoking” or “I’ll start going to the gym” are big walls that we try to climb without a ladder. Perhaps the idea is that, once we get to a point that we are proud of our progress, then we can tell everyone about how well we’ve done. It sounds nice, except for one problem: It gives you an “out”.

As a Probation Officer we spent a lot (most?) of our time working with individuals stuck in addiction. When creating a Case Plan for them, evidence is pretty clear that, if they want to get sober, they are more likely to succeed with the right tools (counseling, support groups, accountability, etc.) around them. This means having like-minded people who can encourage and push them when their motivation/dedication isn’t at it’s best. Everyone has weak moments. Chasing a dopamine hit. Snoozing the alarm. Grabbing Mcdonald’s instead of a home-cooked meal. Those are the moments when you need your friends and supporters. Create a team around yourself that moves the needle in the right direction. If you have friends that aren’t on board with your plan to improve yourself, it might be time to evaluate your friend group. If they’re not helping you, they’re probably hurting you.

Don’t go in unarmed. No, I am not literally suggesting you go into the gym packing heat. I am sort of metaphorically suggesting it, though. In the Bible, the Book of Ephesians talks about putting on the full Armor of God. In a battle against the devil and his evil ways, we’re called upon to fight him with good values.

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:14-17.

As it turns out, the Bible has some pretty awesome life advice that we can carry into other parts of our lives. Who would have thought? If you’ve made that decision to start going to the gym, get strong, get healthy, and feel better, then give yourself a fighting chance. Arm yourself with powerful friends. Buy into a structured program that progressively overloads you and ensures that the program stays fresh. Higher a trainer, if you need to. Set out your favorite outfit the night before. Eat clean! In the same way that a warrior needs his tools in battle, you also need the right tools to help you be successful. Going to the gym and conditioning yourself is a difficult battle. Bring your armor along with you.

Focus on the process, not the result. I get the privilege of working with a Police Officer who can regularly dish out some gems of wisdom. I was venting some frustration to him recently about how, sometimes, the work we do in the criminal justice system can seem pointless. We often see the same people come in, go out, and come right back in. It can be emotionally taxing to get back up that third time and try to help someone change his or her self-destructive ways. He told me, “Focus on the process, not the result”. Boom. Mic drop.

His point was that if you know that you are doing everything in your power to help people live a better life, then you must let the result go. At the end of the day, we are all only in control of our own actions. You can’t control everything. You can’t control anyone. Nor should you.  

Now, you always have to evaluate that process to ensure you’re moving towards the desired result. Maybe you do need a different program, a different eating plan, or a change of scenery. But understand that, regardless, the results take time. Changing your body is a long-term goal. You might get some initial gains, which are great. But in order to maintain those or improve upon them, you are going to be in for the long haul. There will be plateaus. There will be time where you question your choice to be there in the first place. If you are only looking at the result in those times, you’re going to have a difficult time staying positive. Focus on the process and let the results be a pleasant surprise. I believe the ultimate secret to a healthy lifestyle is to fall in love with the process of it. If you can do that, the results will most likely start to come faster.

I truly hope these were helpful. While I’ve written about some of these ideas before, I feel very strongly that you can greatly improve your quality of life through improving your physical capacity in whatever way sparks your interest. If you are one of the regular gym members already, let’s welcome in the New Year’s crowd. Let’s create an environment that makes it easy for them to come back. Smile at them, encourage them, and let’s all make some freakin gainz.

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