Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Resolutions will not be Televised

Not even a full month later and my gym is back to it's quiet atmosphere at 5 AM. Of all the new crowd squeezing into that space, only one person remains. That's not a very high percentage.

There could be a lot of reasons for this. For one, my current gym is not exactly high end and the equipment isn't always in great shape. I cannot imagine myself being a regular there had I not had gym experience and training beforehand. It's not very welcoming to a new person eager to get in shape.

But also making a New Year's Resolution for health isn't really something that always sticks. Two recent studies address intention-behavior relationship to physical activity.  Both of them are reviews and analysis of previous studies, and the results show that there are often too many variables for a solid response. However, there does seem to be an almost 50% gap between intent and activity. And a lot of that has to do with exactly what is the specific intent of physical activity. In other words, people had unreasonable expectations.

And when it comes to resolutions, our intent is usually beyond the scope of reasonable action and activity. "This year, I'm going to the gym every day and I'll be ripped by the summer!" is a recipe for failure. "This year I'm going to walk 30 minutes 3x a week." or "This year, I will replace all lunch desserts with a piece of fruit." is a more attainable goal.

So, jumping into a gym because you are "going to have a six pack" or "be buff" or "lose 100 lbs." while nice, probably ain't gonna work. And that's why I know my previous attempts at healthiness failed. 

My own "clickable" moment certainly wasn't on Jan 1st and it certainly wasn't a huge goal. I wanted to lose 20 lbs. No time limit, no special diet, just "I want to lose 20 lbs." As that happened, I realized how I did it and what i could then set as my next goal. THEN it became something with larger intent that could match my own process. I knew I could go the gym daily and I knew that I could eat healthier. And because I lost that 20, I knew another 20 could happen. And another, And another. Reachable goals make it easier to get to the next level.

It's not too hard to figure that out, but it's hard for us to make it happen.

So what was my resolution this year? I'm continuing my attendance in MOOCs, and I'm starting one on food chemistry. Nutrition and geekiness! It's definitely behavior in which I know I can stay active. 


Rhodes, R. E., & de Bruijn, G.-J. (2013). How big is the physical activity intention-behaviour gap? A meta-analysis using the action control framework. British Journal of Health Psychology, 18(2), 296–309. doi:10.1111/bjhp.12032

Rhodes, R. E., & Dickau, L. (2013). Moderators of the intention-behaviour relationship in the physical activity domain: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 47(4), 215–225. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090411

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