What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then – New Years Resolutions

Posted on December 30, 2013. Filed under: 10k, Ironman Austria, new years resolution, nutrition |

Tomorrow is the last day of the year. I could write about how many miles I have done, what events I’ve completed, my highlights and lowlights but I am determined to be forward focussed.  I have planned Ironman Austria until it is tattooed on my brain; so, what can I write that is a useful bookend to the year?

The idea came to me today as I overheard someone talk about their January plans to get fit.  I know they will fail – not because I am negative but because they have already set themselves up to fail.  So, maybe a useful end to 2013 is to share the stuff that I have learnt so that you don’t have to go through the same humiliations I did.

Why listen?  No reason really, it’s up to you what you do.  But having woken up on the 1st of January 2009 convinced that I was about to die before I was 40, having run a 10k in under an hour 4 months later, having run a marathon 15 months later, having completed an Ironman 32 months later and having lost 5 stone in the process I have learnt a thing or two.

Whether you are sitting right now contemplating a new year’s resolution to save your life or just for the shit and giggles, here is what I know now that I wish I knew then.

WHY RESOLUTIONS FAIL

The majority of resolutions that are set tomorrow night will fail simply because the person doesn’t want it enough.   Sure, they want to weigh less, look better in a bikini or want to climb Kilimanjaro but they want to do it the easy way.  They haven’t joined the dots between their current reality and the life that they want.  Instead they do one of two things……

  • The Grand Gesture – join a gym, give up booze for January, and detox by shoving raw asparagus up your arse.  OK, maybe I stretch the point, but none of these create new habits – and that is why we see empty gyms and full pubs before January is out.
  • Believe Our Limits – I can’t run, I don’t like vegetables.  A bunch of the things that we believe about ourselves are formed before we are 7 years old.   Yet we carry a fear of the school x-country that we were forced to do in a vest in winter or the boiled cabbage or the lumpy custard and straight into adulthood and never challenge ourselves.  That is why we don’t make the changes we need to change the direction of our lives.

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HOW TO DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IN 2014

So, what have I learned over the years that allowed the habits to stick with me?

  • A Goal Must Be Your Goal – every person I know that has made a resolution stick has had a goal and they have shouted about it.  They didn’t shout it out loud and proud but they shared it and the vulnerability that went with it.  And guess what?  Friends and family rallied to support them.  I said on 5th January 2009 that I would run a 10k at the start of May not having run for 10 years.  A bunch of sadists held me to that – taught me, cajoled me, encouraged me and took none of my shit.  I have never forgotten what they did for me and I always look for people to help pay it forwards.
  • You Will Lose Weight In the Kitchen – this is kinda bad news if you like to horse down an XL Big Boy Burger but basically you can’t outrun a bad diet.  I am happy to share more but the headlines are – sugar is sabotaging you – it gives you the urges that cause you to misbehave, diet drinks have the same effect – they fool your brain, energy food and drinks should contain the labelling “this product contains no magic”, unless you are training for more than 90 minutes do not touch sports nutrition or energy drinks, water is your best friend, ready meals are crap even if they are made by Heston Blumenthal or Jamie fecking Oliver, don’t stuff your gob with rice and pasta until you are stretched to bursting point.  PS diets don’t work because they don’t change habits  – it’s another quick fix that unravels just as quickly.
  • Let’s Not Wait Until Monday – I have an iron cast, money back guarantee that you will fall off the wagon.  You are only human.  It could be eating or training or drinking or sleep.  It could be a whole chocolate cake the size of King Kong’s head.  The milk is spilt, stop crying and make a difference as soon as you can.   There is a very British thing after a big blow out to “re-start” on Monday – sod that, re-start at lunch – don’t look back always look forwards.
  • All the Gear And No Idea – another classic procrastination technique!  You need nothing to start – no lycra, no merino undies, no GPS, no “suitable” trainers, no heart monitors, no nothing.  My first mile run in January 2009 was in plimsolls, 20 year old rugby shorts and a hoodie.  You will get kit as you need it but you don’t need it to start.  In fact, after 2 years of running I discovered that I didn’t need motivational music and I ditched the iPod.  Get your most comfortable stuff on, step out the door, do something.  It’s that simple.
  • Push Yourself – I admire everyone that gets their ass off the sofa because I know how difficult it is.  But every day a stream of (usually) ladies in head to toe lycra with bottles of luridly coloured liquids saunter past my house.  I am prepared to bet they expend less energy on their walk than they drink – and they repeat this ad nauseum failing to realise that if you keep doing the same thing you get the same results.   Yes walk if you have to but occasionally jog for a bit, do some press ups, star jumps, whatever.  Unless you feel a degree of discomfort it ain’t really working.
  • It’s All About the Averages – the chances are things have got out of control.  There is no need for self-flagellation if you dodge a run or inhale a cupcake.  Just make sure 80% of the time you are following the path of those dots towards your goal.  Averages will be enough to significantly change you from where you are now.
  • But The Consistency Makes It Stick – a New Year’s resolution isn’t about what you do once you sober up in January.  It is about what you do day in, day out for the rest of your life.  It is about connecting your choices, to your actions to your goal.  It’s about not waiting until Monday.  Consistency makes discomfort more comfortable, when you notice that you will have the confidence to crank it up.  There are few things more satisfying than creating a new habit.

And that’s it.  As they say about Ironman, if it was easy everyone would do it.  It is possible to turn life around in 2014 but taking out a gym membership probably won’t do the job.

Please share with friends who want to make a change but don’t know how to take the first step.

I shall raise a large G&T to a successful 2014.

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6 Responses to “What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then – New Years Resolutions”

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I love it! Brilliant post 🙂

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Thanks Pea – glad you liked it!

A few timely reminders for myself!

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Yep lots of good stuff in there which I’ll be taking on board too! Good luck with it all 🙂

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Love the implications of that comment!

I think it is true I normally talk tosh!

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It’s my favourite quote. Pooh bear knew his stuff!

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