As we reach end of the year, many people start looking ahead to their aspirations for the next year. (I'm sure a lot of you are thinking "Good Riddance 2020!") While most people wait until after Christmas to start considering their New Years resolutions, I wanted to take a minute to discuss 5 reasons why December is actually a better time to make a start on your fitness goals than January:
1) Be PROACTIVE instead of REACTIVE. Rather than waiting to start the year feeling terrible about yourself after look down at your waistline on New Years day after a few weeks of overindulgence. Get out ahead of the problem. Everybody eats more over Christmas, so do some hard work first in order to earn the reward, that way you won’t feel so bad and will be able to create a positive feedback loop which is more likely to continue long term rather than the negative self punishing habits that arise out of a decision made out of unhappiness, if you are only motivated to exercise because you "look a bit fatter" then you will probably quit as soon as you feel you have undone a bit of the damage. Use the carrot, not the stick.
2) Make the holidays CONSTRUCTIVE rather than DESTRUCTIVE .When starting a new exercise regime after a long period of inactivity, it can be normal to experience some mild muscle soreness while the body begins adapting to the pressures you are exposing it too. This is actually a good thing, this is your body restricting movement while it does the construction work of building the new and better you out of the food you consume. So by taking up a new exercise habit during December with a focus on trying to increase your strength, then when it comes to all the sitting around in front of the TV, you will actually be making use of some hard earned rest and recovery, rather than just becoming more inactive than you were before.
3) You can eat more and cause less damage. When we challenge our strength with exercise that pushes our capabilities, our bodies have to respond with building new tissue in order to do the tasks we are asking. This new tissue takes energy to sustain and therefore increases our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the amount of calories we burn while at rest. Put simply: stronger creatures burn more calories to stay alive. Therefore when you inevitably end up overeating too much over the holidays, you are at least not overeating as much if your basic requirements are already increased due to strength training.
4) You have more free time. Make use of it. Everyone is busy in the run up to Christmas, but once all the stores close most people actually have a lot of time to kill. So instead of laying on the sofa watching yet another Christmas movie re-run, why not make use of this extra free time to give yourself the Christmas gift of looking after yourself. This could be simple things from taking a winter walk with friends or family to spending some time working on your mobility (which could even be done in front of the TV, if you really watch to watch that movie!) but in order to stay motivated when others around you are not, then you need to have a good idea of WHAT you need to do, and more importantly WHY. This is why it is good to make a start a few weeks before so you can hit the ground running.
5) You get a head start. This last one is kind of obvious but starting a month sooner means you get a head start on all the other people making the post-festive season rush to burn off the extra desserts. Firstly this gives you something to brag about and discuss with friends and family over the dinner table, which can be very helpful for when it comes to maintaining our goals long term. Telling others about what we are doing makes us ACCOUNTABLE for our actions. If others know our goals, we worry they will ask us how we are doing with those goals, so we are more motivated to make sure we have some progress to show when the time comes. Many studies have shown that accountability increases the long term adherence of healthy lifestyle changes! The second bonus of this head start is that usually after that first 6 to 8 weeks, the determination can wear off and people begin to fall out of habits. This is how most membership gyms make all their money, they get you to sign up for a year knowing that by march most people won't be turning up again. If you start your exercise regime sooner you will be hitting that slump just as everyone else is getting into all the usual "New Year New Me" hype, and you will already have all of your progress to show for it. Seeing others where you were a month ago and being proud of what you have already achieved should provide a second wind of motivation to keep it up. By the time march rolls around and most people are quitting then you will be 3 months into your journey, which is long enough to elicit visible change and build lasting habits that will stick with you throughout the year.
That is my list of reasons to make the most of this month and to chase your goals now rather than waiting for January. Hopefully it provided a bit of inspiration! If you need any help where to get started then either check out my other blogs such as this one here, or contact me for a free one-to-one Personal Training Consultation via zoom or FaceTime.