Not Another New Year's Resolution Article

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Airmen from Team Holloman participate in a resiliency run.
Airmen, from Team Holloman, participate in a Resiliency Day wing run at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 24, 2012. (Airman 1st Class Michael Shoemaker/49th Wing Public Affairs)

It's a new year and a new you, right? Every year around late December, fitness writers and trainers feel compelled to create a revolutionary idea for motivating people to train starting in January.

Why not? We typically have let ourselves go since Halloween with extra treats in the house, stressful work and school schedules, a Thanksgiving feast, etc., that it is time to do something now or buy new clothes that fit.

This cycle occurs annually with many of us, but instead of hoping to be motivated for a few weeks in January, how about practicing a daily dose of discipline?

Twelve Months of Fitness was my attempt last year at creating a "different" kind of New Year's fitness article. Changing the goals and focus each month allows for a variety of elements to be considered in making a lifestyle change.

These additions to training and living keep things fresh and help keep motivation higher, but the long-term success eventually will require discipline. Motivation has to evolve into discipline for any of this to work. There are follow-up articles on the topic to see how people are doing after Week 3 of the New Year Workout.

To make a resolution or not was an attempt at pushing people to create a goal with "intentions," as we tend to drop the word "resolution" after late January. Setting goals with specific sub-goals works for some and helps to maintain discipline when most people start to fall off the wagon. Unfortunately, most people fall off the wagon but look to get back on again in March, just in time for summer.

Discipline makes it work

New Year's resolutions that worked was a report I did on people who were still on track with their New Year's fitness routine a full year later. These successes were linked to starting off slowly, trying a few changes and being disciplined about them. This ranged from just drinking more water and not drinking sodas, to learning a new activity like swimming. Being disciplined to change a bad habit into a good habit is the key to success with anything in life, not just your health and wellness. Finding something good and new to you will help you get rid of something old and bad for you. As the saying goes, "You are two habits away from succeeding -- one you have to start and one you have to quit."

There is no shortage of New Year's resolution articles out there. My advice is to pick one new idea and get moving today. Even if it is just drinking more water and walking 10 minutes after every meal, these daily events will be the catalyst for a great year for those who are seeking to get healthier.

But as mentioned in this post several times, it is discipline that gets you through the tough days. Yes, your January motivation has to evolve into February discipline to make fitness and health work for you. From there, it is a constant battle with your inner voice, energy levels and time constraints to do something that counts as a positive addition to your life and health.

My advice is: "Don't listen to yourself; talk to yourself." Tell yourself you have an appointment with you. Make it happen and do something physical. Tell yourself to get up early and do it. Tell yourself not to eat unhealthy food and have better options prepared. Tell yourself to drink water all day and keep a large glass by your side.

In the end, the challenge comes down to a very simple concept: Move more, eat less, sleep better, less stress. If you can do these four things, you will see massive progress. Even if you can do only one or two at a time, you will see noticeable progress. But in the end, to be healthy, move better, feel better and improve your life, these four elements have to be part of your daily disciplined activities.

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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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