Here in BC, dance studios are locked down until at least January 18. For most people, that’s just another day on the calendar. A day to have breakfast. A day to go off to work (or stay in at work), or any one of a million activities people do most days of the year. But the following morning, January 19, ushers in a distinctive marker.
Strava, the social media network for athletes, was curious if there was a pattern to how long people on average stayed committed to their New Year’s Resolutions. After studying more than 800 million user-logged activities, they discovered that most people gave up on their New Year’s resolutions on the same day of the year. Yep, that’s right: January 19.
While that might be the day (we hope) that dancers and athletes in BC get back to the normal activities they love so much, for most people it’s a day that ends the plans they started less than three weeks earlier with such hope and enthusiasm.
Why do people quit so early in the year? According to Australian personal trainer Michelle Furniss, the reason is that we push ourselves too hard to make up for our indulgence during the festive season. “The reality of how much we’ve overindulged begins to dawn on us,” she says. “Everyone wants to feel like they’re starting off the New Year on the right foot, but going too hard too soon is simply not sustainable.”
Making things worse is that we are living in an ‘instant gratification’ era. This sense that everything we do should generate immediate results extends to our fitness goals. Whether it is losing weight or getting a particular dance skill, if we don’t see results within a few days, we tend to give up. Furniss says, “Look beyond just the aesthetics, and remember that fitness contributes to much more than just your physical appearance. Fitness has a myriad of health benefits, both in the immediate, short, and long term.”
Fitness is a long term game. Likewise, learning to dance is a long process. You need to look not at some short term benefit but how you will feel and look decades from now if you fold these things into your daily life. It’s much easier to build new habits around existing ones.
But while the outcome is long term, think short term to get you there. Instead of setting one massive long-term goal, set short, medium and long term goals.
Some tips to keep you moving forward
Get an accountability partner. Pair up with someone else to keep you accountable and motivated.
Find ways to make the process fun. Reward yourself after an intense training with something you like to connect your training sessions to positive feelings.
Consider competition as a way to measure your progress. There’s one scheduled here in the Vancouver area for February 26-27 called Vancouver Challenge Cup. We hope the powers that be don’t squash this one with yet another lockdown!
Be prepared to revise. There’s nothing wrong with modifying your plans to better suit what you think you can accomplish.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you run into road blocks or aren’t making the progress you expected. If you miss a day, don’t let that derail your entire plan. Just pick up again the next day or a few days later. Life does get busy. Occasionally, your body needs a day off more than it needs a workout. When that happens, go for a walk over lunch or after work. Move as much as you’re comfortable that day, and get back to regularly scheduled programming the next.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that dance lessons will be allowed to resume by January 19. If not, stay positive and do whatever you need to do to keep your body in shape for the day that dancing returns.