Every year it is so tempting. So tempting to say, “This is the year I finally make health and fitness my priority!” Or, “This is the year I give up sweets!” Or, “This is the year I drop all dairy from my diet for all 365 days!” Without getting into the specific benefits/drawbacks to any of those above statements, what they all have in common is an element of overreaching. For most people, this time of year is full of overreaching in your New Year’s resolution. Seriously, the reason most people give up on their New Year’s resolution by January 12 is because of trying to do way too much, way too fast.
Let’s define overreaching:
Overreaching is simply the process of trying to do far more than you are capable of doing. For example, if you decide to buy a Ferrari at full price and have no way to pay that monthly car bill, you have overreached on your budget.
The same thing happens with fitness. When you sign up for a full marathon having never ran three miles without stopping, you’ve overreached. When you go from not working out at all to working out every single day, you know you’re practicing overreaching in your New Year’s resolution.
What’s wrong with overreaching?
The biggest issue with overreaching is that it sets you up for failure. A recent New Year’s resolution I found was to do 300 repetitions of an abdominal (abs) exercise every day in 2020. First of all, if you haven’t done a sit up since God-knows-when, and you start training your abs like that, you are going to be so sore there’s no way you’ll continue. For the sake of argument, say you actually have been active for some time. You’re a gym goer, you focus on your health and fitness, and you think that goal isn’t overreaching.
You’re still not going to get any results.
Muscle recovery is a thing – it matters, and without it you are not going to make any improvements. At the end of 365 days of 300 ab repetitions (109,500 sit ups, for example) your abs are going to look strikingly similar. Because they haven’t had a chance to rest and recover, and because exercise is only one piece to a much larger puzzle.
What you should do instead:
In your motivation-filled moments of the New Year, don’t choose an unrealistic goal. Instead, figure out what is the simplest thing you can do to help you toward your goal. To continue the example from above, you’re doing those 300 ab repetitions each day because you want to see your abs. Hey, you’re not alone. Many, many people see this as the pinnacle of health. Instead of taking on this monster number, first seek to understand what goes into seeing your abs in the first place: fat loss.
No matter how much muscle you grow, if you are carrying a lot of extra body fat, you are not going to be able to see your abs. Once you know this, you can stop overreaching in your New Year’s resolution, and instead focus on simple things to aid fat loss, such as:
- Drinking more water (1 ounce per pound of body weight, each and every day)
- Improving your sleep (7-9 hours nightly)
- Improving your nutrition (eat real food, not too much, and mostly plants)
- Finding enjoyable exercise you can maintain for long term health
HERE IS THE KEY: DON’T DO ALL OF THAT AT ONCE. PICK ONE AREA. Diving into the deep-end and going crazy at all four of those bullet points is only going to lead to overreaching…and failure. Instead, focus on one area. Make it a habit. Then move onto the next bullet point. You may find that the environment in a gym is motivating and impacts your nutritional choices faster, and you kill two birds with one stone. Or you may find that simply by sleeping more you have the energy to make better choices about what you eat each day. Just pick one, and make it part of your new lifestyle. Then move onto the next one, and so on. Also, for your health and fitness New Year’s resolutions, those four areas are going to be the most important topics – regardless of your goal. Even if you don’t care about your abs, if you have a health-focused New Year’s resolution, those four areas are going to be the key to improvement.
If you’re not sure where to start:
Shameless plug for the gym here: if you’re not sure where to start, please just reach out to us. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to meet you and see if Summit could be a great place for you. If you’re not in Indy, I’d be happy to help online, and the consultation is always free. This gym was started to give people the strength needed to overcome life’s every day challenges. I believe that’s hard to do without your health. So, if you don’t know where to begin, or if you know that your step 1 is finding a gym, I’d love to hear from you.