February 16th, 2015
There’s something about January 1st of every year that makes me feel invincible. It’s as if unwrapping a brand new calendar convinces me that every old habit is gone, or that the possibilities for being a self-actualized human have never been more in my favor. And this year, this year, I’ll do everything I want to do.
Let’s get real, this isn’t going to happen.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think I’m a powerful human being and I can accomplish a lot if I’m willing to work for it, but the idea that I’m intrinsically different on January 1st, so much more capable than on December 31st, is a lie I exploit yearly. However untrue, it’s the type of lie I live with to make my life a little happier. Kind of like telling myself I could be Shakira’s background dancer if only given the chance, or that those fuzzy socks I love are not only comfortable but borderline sexy. Little lies are okay. But that little lie turns into a big problem when we transition from hopeful to obsessed.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my friends and fitness class participants convince themselves that this year, finally, they will look how they want to look. But what seems like a harmless goal so easily becomes unhealthy as people immerse themselves in a popular culture whose magazines, beauty products, and fitness regimens highlight your flaws and promise the impossible–perfection. The hottest thighs, biceps, abs, and butt are within reach: “New Year, New You”! While there are many merits to self improvement, there’s a difference between attainable, sustainable goals and getting hooked on impossible regiments that are supposed to change both your appearance and your confidence.
Put simply, my opinion is this: There is not a single physical exercise that will make you self-confident and happy. These are not external qualities, but have everything to do with mental health, self-acceptance, and self-love. From my personal experience as a human, I’m convinced your body can only be as healthy as your mind, and working toward a holistic health approach is crucial in maintaining the stamina necessary to making changes for a more physically healthy life.
Time and time again, research shows that weight loss and muscle toning that comes as a result of looks-based motivation cannot work in the long-term. How many times have we seen the super motivated friend who works out daily, loves it, wants that “bikini bod,” then loses motivation and never returns to the gym? How many times has that been you? This method cannot last, and instead leads to thoughts of inadequacy and disappointment.
Instead, this year, make your goals about YOU. Not who you want to look like, but the type of person you want to be. Hopefully, that’s a happier, healthier, more taken-care of version of yourself. Decide to find a workout you love, think about how great it’d be to climb the Morton stairs without losing your breath (a seemingly impossible feat). Resolve to be less stressed and use yoga as an outlet. Enjoy nature by running outside or feel like a beast during BodyCombat. Exercise because you’re strong, because you’re committed, because your body feels empowered when you use it. Most importantly, make fitness a goal because being yourself is something worth celebrating.
This year, start the change from within.