I don’t know about you, but I’m smack in the middle of the winter doldrums. It’s cold and wet outside, the sun is still setting too early, and it is just a slog to get out and exercise. I do it, but there is a little voice in my head that is beginning to sound reasonable. You probably hear the same little voice, the one that says “Oh, go ahead and skip today. The weather is too gross to spend an hour out in it.” Most of the time, I remind myself how far I’ve come in the last 13 months (22 lbs down!), how much the dogs need to get out for some air and I zip up my rain jacket and set off.
I heard a report on the radio the other day that Gold’s Gym even has a name for this phenomenon. They call it the “Fitness Cliff,” and using attendance data, they can even predict the date that their check-ins will begin to drop off. This year, it was Feb. 9. After that day, they say that a significant number of people who joined at the beginning of the year with newly-minted fitness resolutions in mind, will begin to fall by the wayside.
Chances are, like me, you’ve been a victim to the Fitness Cliff. I quit making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago because I never seem to fulfill them. (Why set myself up for failure? You can’t fail at something you never committed to, in the first place!) Last year, instead of a specific fitness/weight loss goal, I got a Fitbit and decided to let it be my motivation. It’s worked! I knew we had several big trips planned for 2015, so I wanted to be able to get into some of my summer clothes, but it was the Fitbit that has really helped me stay on track.
Having said that, though, it’s still kind of a struggle to get into the mental place to put on the layers, harness up the dogs, supply the poop-bag holder and get out. There are a few things that I’m doing to get over the hump.
- I have goals. I have the most success if I set a large goal and then some smaller goals. For example, I know I’d like to get back to my Weight Watcher’s goal weight. That’s the larger goal. The small one I’m working on right now is to get rid of the three pounds I gained on our most recent trip. I’m halfway there! A large goal I had for last year was to help the two Labs lose some weight, especially the one who has mobility problems. According to the vet this week, goal accomplished! She’s lost 11 pounds in a year.
- I keep my goals real. Sure, I’d love to get back down to my pre-baby size, but my babies are 30 and 27. That’s not going to happen. In concept, I’d love to run a marathon. I hate running. That’s not happening, either. Can I lower my blood pressure by shedding some pounds? That’s doable! Can I get my hamstrings to a place where I can touch my toes? That’s what yoga classes are doing.
- I remind myself of my successes. Sometimes when you are in the middle of the doldrums, it’s really easy to forget how far you’ve come (even if it’s just a little way, still it’s a success). I try to stay positive and recall what I’ve accomplished.
- I try not to beat myself up. OK, so I listened to the little voice. It was raining pigs and chickens and I decided to take the day off. It’s done. Time to move on, and not feel like a failure for taking one day off. Tomorrow is another day.
- I reward myself. When I’ve met a weight objective, when I’ve smashed my step goal, or when I can get back into an article of clothing, I reward myself. I try not to use food as a reward, but there’s no harm in a new pair of yoga pants, a workout top, or some flowers, is there? An added benefit of using new workout clothes as a carrot is that I then have a reason to look forward to working out or going to yoga.
Spring is coming, I know, and that means it’ll be much more difficult for that nagging little voice to convince me to stay indoors. Until then, though, I have to keep trying to ignore that little voice so that I don’t fall off the Fitness Cliff.
— By Cheryl Wolotira
This is the latest in a series of fitness columns by Cheryl Wolotira, a retired educational technologist and middle school teacher. She is married, the mother of two adult children and three Labs. Cheryl loves to read, is a keen traveler, an enthusiastic consumer of technology, and is passionate about food and wine, which is why she has to exercise.
Cheryl is working with Pritam Potts, owner of Advanced Athlete LLC, to reach her fitness goals.