I hope you all had a good holiday season. I also hope you didn’t wake up on Friday and make lofty New Year’s resolutions you’re unlikely to keep … you know, stuff like “I’m going to lose 30 pounds by March!”
I’m not opposed to New Year’s resolutions, mind you. I just think too many people go about it the wrong way; i.e., they promise themselves they’ll achieve specific results instead of promising to develop better habits. We can choose our habits. We can’t control the results. You may think it would be awesome to lose 30 pounds in two months, but your body’s biological software may not be programmed to go along with the plan. Set yourself an unlikely goal, and the likely outcome is that you’ll end up labeling yourself a failure.
So pretty please with stevia on top: if you have a list of diet and fitness resolutions for 2016, make sure you define your goals in terms of actions, not results.
That being said, if you’re not happy with last year’s results, here’s something you can resolve to do: mix it up and experiment. We’re all different, and a plan that worked wonders for other people might not be right for you. If you’ve been on an almost-zero-carb diet and still can’t seem to lose weight, you can try giving up dairy products. (I’ve seen that break a stall for a few people.) You can try introducing probiotics, resistant starches and more fiber to feed the good gut bacteria. You can try something more along the lines of the lowish-carb Zone diet or Perfect Health Diet. You can try adding a carb night to an otherwise ketogenic diet to see if it jump-starts a slow thyroid.
The point is, if you’re not happy where you’re at, don’t just resolve to do more of the same and hope for better results. It can’t hurt to give other plans a month-long test and see what happens. And if it turns out nothing you try breaks that stall, then let it go and resolve to focus on being healthy.
I didn’t make any dramatic resolutions this year, but I am adopting one new habit: winter huff-and-puff exercise. I get plenty of huff-and-puff exercise during warm months just by working on the farm. Carrying t-posts up the hills, pounding them in (and trying to avoid head-whacking incidents), pushing The Beast through the briar jungles, five-hour sessions pushing a mower up and down the back hills … yeah, that’s real exercise.
But in the winter months, I don’t usually do much besides lift weights once per week. With all the holiday busy-ness and family-and-friends visits this year, I ended up lifting weights just twice between my birthday and New Year’s. My last all-day mowing session was in early November. Toss in some holiday junk food and adult beverages, and by Christmas I was aware of feeling … well, not exactly soft, but certainly less tuned up than in the summer months.
The weekend weather gave me a chance to confirm my suspicions. It was 50 degrees on Sunday, so I told Chareva I’d put together the picnic table that’s been sitting in pieces in our garage. I tossed most of the planks and other parts into our garden cart and pulled them up the back hill to a location near her garden.
Holy @#$%, I grumbled to myself once I stopped the cart and unloaded. I should not be breathing this hard after pulling one load up the hill. If this were last July, I’d barely be winded.
So I resolved to get more endurance-building exercise during the cold, no-farm-work months. But doing what? I’ve considered getting a recumbent exercise bike before, but man, they’re bulky. I didn’t like the idea of crowding our limited basement space with one of those.
Well, it so happens Chareva wanted a bicycle for Christmas. It occurred to me that I could just add one of those indoor trainers to her bike and voila! Instant exercise bike for indoors. Now I just needed an intelligent plan for making use of it.
During our visit to Illinois, The Older Brother told me he’d been reading Mark Sisson’s book Primal Endurance, and it made a lot of sense. I wondered why I hadn’t received a copy. Turns out it was in the mail we had held during our trip. I’m most of the way through the book (which I’ll review soon), and it’s definitely given me a plan for using the bike to get into summer-work shape long before summer.
Again, we’re talking about the actions I can take, not the results. The results will be what they will be … but of course, I’ll write about them when I feel there’s something worth reporting.
In the meantime, I thought this might be a fun reader-driven discussion for those who don’t mind sharing: what’s the dumbest or least useful New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made? And what’s the smartest or most useful resolution you’ve ever made?
Happy 2016, everyone.