Ahhhh, the Holiday Season is upon us and the New Year is right around the corner. With January 1st approaching, you know what comes next: the New Year’s Resolution. I can almost guarantee that we all know someone who is waiting for the New Year just to start working on something for self-improvement, whether it be a fitness goal or maybe to spend less money eating out. But how many of these resolutions make it past March, April, or even halfway through the year in June? According to Forbes, the University of Scranton research team conducted a study that showed only 8% of those who start the New Year with a resolution succeed at fulfilling that goal.
So let’s break it down a little better: approximately 8/100 people succeed at meeting their resolution goals, leaving 92 people who have failed to succeed at just that. To me, that percentage has the potential to grow, but only if we approach our goal setting from the right angle. It may be in part that some of us just don’t know how to set attainable goals and try to shoot for the moon on the first try. This isn’t something to hang your head about (I’ve shot for the moon many times and failed significantly, both in school and sports), because failure is something we need to learn from and take value from in order to better ourselves. I’ve come up with a few tips on what has helped me fulfill my New Year’s Resolutions in the past. If I can carry even one of these goals through the full year, I feel as though I have bettered myself for the long run.
- Clearly write out your goals (But make sure they are realistically attainable!!)
Take half an hour of your evening, grab a notebook, and clearly write down what you want to get better at in 2017. However, make sure these are goals you can realistically meet! We don’t want to set ourselves up for failure before we even start the process!
- Give a copy of your goals to someone close to you
I can almost guarantee that if you went up to your mom, dad, girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, or anyone who provides a significant impact on your life, they will be more than happy to help hold you accountable with your goals because they see you trying to better yourself and will want to contribute to your process!
- Hang up a copy of your goals in a place you look everyday
Think of a place that you look every single day. I can name one for almost everybody: your cell phone. After you write your goals out, take a picture of your piece of notebook paper and set it as your lock screen. This is a place you’re going to look every single day with your goals staring straight back at you.
I found this note in my dad's bathroom cabinet a while back. This is a place he is reminded of his goal every day of the year. "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."
- If getting fit is your goal, find a workout partner that you can trust.
This one tends to be tough for a lot of people. If getting fit is something on your list for 2017, then we can help you (Check out our PRx Workout of the Week for weekly motivation). But we can only do so much because we are not actually there with you. Lacking motivation happens to everyone at times, so you need that workout buddy who will keep pushing you even when you want to give up. Find someone you trust, and tell them face-to-face: I want to get fit in 2017, and I want you along for the ride.
- Set a calendar reminder on your phone for June and see where you are at with achieving your goals.
Take 30 seconds out of your day, go to the calendar on your phone, and set a reminder sometime in June saying “We’re halfway through 2017, where am I at with my goals? Is it time to reread them?” If you get through the first question of “where am I at with my goals?” without hesitation, then props to you for getting this far. But there’s still 6 months to go!! If you are unsure about where you stand in achieving your goals, it’s time to go back and reread them if you are serious about self-improvement, because 6 months is still long enough to better yourself.
I hope you can take at least one of these tips away and apply it your own process of achieving your New Year’s Resolution. I’m a firm believer in, “You shouldn’t need a new year in order to set your goals.” But some people just need a fresh start to things, and January 1st is a great time to do just that. I’m going to leave you with one last thing:
Be a part of that 8%.
While taking in a majority of the events during the 2016 CrossFit Games, I became particularly intrigued with the athletes competing in both the Men’s and Women’s Master divisions. In order to qualify for a Masters division, or just simply be considered a Masters athlete, you must be 40+ years of age. After getting a chance to analyze these athletes and compare their skill sets to one another, I came to realize the difficulty it would take to get to that level being 40+, 50+, or even 60+ years old. So I did a little research on what a Masters athlete endures during training, whether preparing for competition or doing it for their own well-being.
The Masters Athlete pictured above is PRx's own Lori A.!
So what are some of the factors that a Masters athlete has to contend with that someone younger may not experience?
- Extended warm-up and cool down
- With myself, being a fitness junky in my mid-20s, I can walk into the gym, perform a 2-3 minute warm-up, and hop up to the bar ready to roll. (I imagine this won't be the case the older I get). This creeps up on many athletes as they start to feel the effects of not warming up properly in their younger years. According to what I've read, athletes 40+ years should warm up for 15-20 minutes just to get the body ready to endure their workout. Mobility also becomes a key factor to optimal performance as you age, which is where proper modification of workouts comes into play. Recovery time also needs to be extended the older you get because protein cannot be synthesized as efficiently as the body ages. This makes is harder to train vigorously day after day. Putting all of this together, a Master athlete’s warm up and cool down may take longer than the workout itself!
2. Proper programming
- As with every athlete, proper programming needs to be nailed down by their respective coaches in order to prevent injury and keep them coming back to the gym. If you can train like Rich Froning or other top fitness athletes, more power to you, but for many athletes 40+ years of age, programming is going to differ greatly. This is where getting to know your coach and sitting down to consult with them on a proper training regimen is very important.
- Change in body composition
- We all also experience hormonal changes with age. Men see a decrease in testosterone produced by the body, leading to weight gain and muscle loss, and women see an increase in estrogen which also leads to the same factors. This is where it is important to focus more on strength rather than conditioning, which has a great effect on reversing these hormonal changes. For example, a focus on strength may be the difference between doing strict pull-ups instead of kipping pull-ups. Again, proper coaching and technique can have a major effect on both the physical and mental health of the athlete!
- Outside influences
- No matter who you are, there are always going to be mitigating factors (you know, LIFE) that makes it hard to get to the gym and stick with your regimen. For the older athlete, it seems even more challenging. A lot of times they have to deal with people who just don't understand. They hear they're too old to do this or that, or that they're going to get hurt, and then get an earful of what they SHOULD be doing. These self-proclaimed experts are those that you should run, not walk away from. If you are doing something you love, and find a community of support that helps guide you every step of the way, keep that and cherish it to the fullest. Too many athletes are being pushed away by outside influences that aren’t enduring their daily grind.
SO TO ALL OF YOU MASTER ATHLETES OUT THERE, WE COMMEND YOU!!!
With all the above factors that you may deal with on a daily basis just to live a healthier lifestyle, it takes a lot of willpower and determination to keep on developing as an athlete. So keep pushing forward and know that there are people out there cheering you on!
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