N-WHY-E: Find your foundation for fitness in 2021.
Somehow, we’ve made it to the end of this crazy year and, like the end of any year, it’s that time for setting new goals, targets, and resolutions.
This year has been particularly tough for making resolutions stick, especially fitness-related ones. How can you go for that daily jog if you’re not allowed out of the house? How can you make that promised gym session when they can’t even let you in?
Some people stepped up to the new challenge. It turned out that the gym was a hassle and a headache; getting there was one thing, and knowing what to do there was another. But suddenly, your living room became your workout space, removing the excuse of inconvenience, and there was an energetic YouTube instructor shouting at you from your TV, promising their high-energy daily workouts would get you that dream figure. Despite getting locked down, you got fitter this year than ever before.
Whether it was sheer boredom, or a legitimate concern for your health in the face of a global pandemic – embrace the fact that something gave you the push to get moving (literally). Now, it’s time to maintain that drive even when we’re not ‘forced’ into it. You might need to move things around both practically and personally, but it’ll be worth it – trust us.
However, many of us got far too caught up in simply trying to survive – keeping ourselves and our families sane in the middle of one of the strangest years we’ve ever known – to prioritize fitness. And there’s absolutely no shame in that. Every health guru on the internet will lecture you about putting yourself first – but that’s just not a luxury everyone has. Some weeks/months/years are more about maintenance than progress. Try to remain objective, remind yourself that the shift in priority is temporary, and do your best to ensure it doesn’t have a seriously negative effect on your own health.
Even if it’s been a complete disaster, try to gain comfort from the fact that things will not be this hard again for a long while. January is coming up, the beginning of the ‘New Year, New Me’ movement, which most or all of your friends will be getting involved with too. What better time to wipe the sh*tty slate of 2020 clean and start fresh? The only question is: how?
Most people have failed at sticking to their resolutions before they’ve lifted their first weight or ran their first lap. Why? Well, because they don’t have a ‘why’. Your ‘why’ is your purpose, your foundation, your reason for lacing your running shoes in the early morning. It keeps you strong when things get shaky. The more powerful your ‘why’, the higher you will be able to build your palace of strength.
The most common mistake is to chase a body – or worse, someone else’s. Sometimes, we target a previous point in our lives when we were happy with our conditioning. After all, we’ve done it before, and as long as it wasn’t 30 years ago, it’s not unrealistic to do it again. However, we overlook the fact that we might not have been happy with everything else in our life at that point – so is it really realistic?
It’s easy to get depressed and disillusioned in a failure to achieve the same abs/ass/arms/etc. as someone else, without cutting ourselves some slack. Maybe they can dedicate an unreasonable amount of time to it. Maybe it’s genetics. Don’t let your ‘why’ get wrapped up in what someone else looks like.
The most powerful, purposeful ‘why’ comes down to a performance-based goal; being fitter, faster and stronger. And – bonus! – it’s hard to look worse while achieving these. So, you’ll get the aesthetics, but ability reigns supreme.
Why? The ‘capability carry-over’. Imagine you’re running through the airport with a heavy bag – do you switch into 5th gear with ease and make it to the boarding gate without breaking a sweat? Or does it put you so out of breath you want to ask for an oxygen mask on the plane?
Obviously, this doesn’t happen every day, but when it does – and especially after it has – there is such a great feeling of empowerment. Besides, it does happen in small doses in day-to-day life, when anything even remotely physical is required of you. Need to pick up a 20kg box, or even just carry some heavy shopping? Would you rather it took 90% of your maximum effort, or a breezy 15%?
When you see improved performance as a result of your training, you are rewarded with constant daily affirmations of how far you’ve come and how capable you’ve become.
With physical strength comes mental strength; the ability to jump any physical hurdle in your day gives you a glowing confidence that is incredibly powerful. You’re not just fast, fit and strong; you know you’re fast, fit and strong. You might not be unstoppable, but some days, you just might feel like it.
And of course, with greater power comes greater longevity. If you can barely climb the stairs now, what about in 20 years’ time? Not being able to play with your grandkids isn’t a happy thought. As life expectancies increase, we need our bodies to be fit and strong and able for longer and longer. Yes, it’s possible to push past limits at a younger age which are counterproductive for decent performance later in life, but with proper, sensible training (and coaching) this isn’t a concern.
What would mean the most to you about being a high-performing individual long into your life? That’s not a set of abs you achieve for beach season and then fall off the bandwagon. It’s a visualisation of the happiness your life will bring you when you’re strong.
That’s your ‘why’.
Find it, focus on it, and remind yourself that you are getting closer to it, every time you hit a personal best in the gym.
Set yourself a small, realistic, performance or nutrition-focused goal. Not for the whole year – start with the first quarter, or even the first month of 2021. When you achieve it, you can set another one. And so on, and so on.
Here’s to a better year than this one, filled with steady, sustainable gains.