January 1st is always a time for resolutions, for declaring a desire to change something in our lives. For a lot of people, their resolutions for a new year include getting healthy and losing weight. While this is admirable, I’ve come to find that New Year’s Resolutions can be a recipe for failure. By now it’s almost the end of January, and a lot of people have missed workouts, given into temptation and eaten something not so diet-friendly, and have given up on that resolution that they made so enthusiastically a few weeks ago.

I used to fall into the resolution pattern, not just at the beginning of the year but at the beginning of EVERY new attempt to lose weight. I would tell myself that Day 1 (usually on a Monday) was the first day that I was going to stick to my eating plan, do all my scheduled workouts, and not give in to the temptations that had always been my downfall in the past. But now, I believe that this mindset was more of a downfall than any sneaky tempting donut that found its way past my defenses.

Having an all-or-nothing approach to reaching a goal can actually be detrimental, as far as I’m concerned. We’re human, and although we may have great intentions, we’re going to make mistakes. Life happens and we miss workouts or eat a meal we “shouldn’t”, and this can lead to throwing the whole thing out the window because we feel like we’ve already slipped up and failed.

People aren’t perfect, and neither are diets. Whether it’s with a fitness goal or just in general, at some point or another we’re going to make mistakes. And then we’ll beat ourselves up for our mistakes, and quite possibly feel like it’s not worth continuing on now that we’ve slipped up.

It is always worth continuing on after a slip-up.

As my friends will tell you, I am great at beating myself up after I make a mistake. What I’m NOT so great at is shaking it off, forgiving myself, and moving forward. Of course this behavior does nothing but make me feel worse as I dwell on my shortcomings. Feeling bad about cheating on your diet, or really anything else, can lead you back into a cycle of bad behavior, followed by guilt, followed by a new resolve to do better….and it can go on and on.

Why do we torture ourselves?

Mistakes happen. DONUTS happen. They are warm and sugary and delicious and sometimes we just need to eat them. This doesn’t mean that all our hard work has been undone. All it means is that one morning during a staff meeting, the donuts smelled too good and offered themselves up as too perfect a pairing with our coffee and we had a moment of weakness. All we can do is have a good workout and a healthy dinner later, resume our good habits, and do better for the rest of the day. By rejecting the idea that we will be ‘perfect’ on our diet plans, why not accept upfront that nothing and no one is perfect and that we will have temptations and obstacles?

The people who lose weight and get fit and STAY that way are the ones that keep going. They aren’t perfect, and they’ve fallen short too. The difference is that they didn’t use mistakes as an excuse to stop pushing forward. One mistake may make you feel bad (especially if you haven’t eaten donuts in awhile and aren’t used to the sugar rush anymore!), but the bad feeling will go away as you make better choices next time and overcome that donut. And when you reach your goals, you’ll know that you can do anything you set your mind to, even if you make mistakes along the way.



Blue Monday

It’s the first Monday of the new year, and I started it out feeling pretty good. I actually got out of bed when my alarm went off (this is not something that happens all that often….normally I hit Snooze at least twice and then laze about snuggling my kitties when I really ought to be getting up and ready for work), my hair cooperated in the getting-ready process a lot more than it usually does, and I was out the door with enough time to stop at Starbucks for a latte. All was reasonably well with the world as I arrived at work, set my coffee and bag on my desk, and started getting situated after being away all weekend. I was arranging things when, BAM!, my elbow hit my coffee cup and dumped my latte all over my desktop calendar, several papers, and my blanket. I was pretty irritated with myself as I mopped up the mess and sent a message requesting a replacement calendar.

Turns out, I shouldn’t blame myself, it’s the universe’s fault. What I have learned since this morning is that today is Blue Monday, which is a splashy way of saying it’s the most depressing day of the year. Has anyone else heard of this? Because it was completely not on my radar. Apparently Blue Monday is the day that the most divorces of the year get filed, and tweets are five times more likely to be negative. I guess on some level it makes sense: the holidays are over, people are going back to work, the credit card bills are starting to come in after a December of increased spending, families are sick of each other after all that “together” time.

I did some research and found that Blue Monday actually falls somewhere in the middle of January, not the first full week of the month. The date gets calculated by taking into account a bunch of different factors, like time lapsed since Christmas and average weather conditions. This isn’t really enough to convince me that Blue Monday truly exists. After all, in spite of the fact that I spilled my coffee today, my hair looks great and the sun is shining! It’s a beautiful day! Admittedly, spilling a four dollar drink didn’t please me, but it’s certainly not the worst thing that could happen.

I reject this Blue Monday theory. I’m not going to have a bad day just because someone decided that the weather and my potential credit card bills have dictated that I could. To me, this is a lot like Friday the 13th, which has been deemed a bad luck day but usually turns out fine for me (I mean, honestly, what’s to hate about Fridays?). I went back to Starbucks on my lunch and got myself a new latte, which I drank without incident.

It would be easy to go into a day that already has a label for being depressing and have a bad attitude, because why be positive when the day is going to suck anyways? But it’s just as easy to have a good outlook and decide that, Blue Monday or no, today is kicking off a great week!