As we cast our eyes to the new year and its seemingly endless possibilities, it is tradition to take a close look at what we would like to do differently. And so, we make those well intentioned resolutions.
The predominant trend I see comes from “all or nothing” thinking. If we resolve to change our workout routines, we must be at the gym daily or not bother at all. Diet changes demand complete abolition of sugars or taking down a master cleanse. Without these heroic commitments, why bother?
I am not spoiling any surprises when I acknowledge that these approaches ultimately leave us right back where we started with a goal unrealized. We can chalk it up to a lack of resolve or will power. However, maybe, it’s not how we were meant to change in the first place.
One of my favorite health concepts is called “hormetic stress.” You can think of it as cellular Darwinism: Just enough stress and environmental change creates sustainable movement towards your goals. Too much and your system is out of its depth and becomes reactionary and breaks down.
Depending on your current state of health, this looks different for everyone. That 30 day cleanse may be just right for a healthy athlete who regularly monitors their food intake. However, for a working parent who just got through the holidays and a particularly nasty cold season, that would very likely be too much. The fatigue and energetic break down of not giving your body the fuel it needs would (hopefully) cause you to abandon ship long before Feb 1st.
So what are our choices?
Like any journey towards a looming goal, we begin with the first steps. Resolve to begin with just one thing.
Too much snacking? Reduce the hours in which you eat to a 10-12 hour window (a concept called Intermittent Fasting).
Too much sugar? Start by removing one category of sweet stuff (sodas, cookies/treats, etc).
Not enough movement? Start with a commitment to 2-3 workout movement sessions a week.
Most importantly, resolve that this is not a static process. We do not arrive at February 1 10 lbs lighter or suddenly able to do 10 pull ups when previously we could do none.
Resolve, that when the healthy, sustainable stress of hitting the trail for 3, 10 minute runs a week becomes not stressful at all, you will increase the time, frequency or intensity. You will recalibrate and find that sweet spot of hormetic stress that propels you forward.
This recalibration towards ever increasing challenge is your pathway to sustainable change. Take on your challenges of 2019 one bite at a time, and may you arrive in 2020 successful in all your endeavors.
Always in Service,