The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. -G.K. Chesterton
It’s 2013. If you are like most people I know, you are probably tugging a little at your tighter-than-they-should-jeans and doing the math on the last day you managed to go without a cocktail. This is Ugh Week. As in, “ugh, why haven’t I trained in a month” or “ugh, why did I order everything off the kid’s room service menu at 2 am?” But think back to this week in January 2012. It was probably Ugh Week, too.
Granted, you probably aren’t feeling your best right now, but there are some good things about Ugh Week. Such as when you have been binging for too long, moderation starts to sound down right pleasant. Little things like going for a walk on the beach sound amazing. One of my clients told me she was craving a salad because she thinks she has scurvy. And after a month of champagne and waffles, kale and avocados start to sound pretty fantastic.
Most of the expert talk this week centers around resolutions, goals, and new apps for your phone that will make 2013 your most productive ever. These are all invaluable tools to help stay focused, but it certainly helps to have a better idea of where you want to go before you invest all that mental energy in planning the trip.
It’s around this time of year that I see people pour into gyms or onto my website with vague goals and a haphazard approach. It’s completely fine to get started on your Path without a perfect idea of where you are going because there are a handful of qualities that you are going to need no matter what your Point B is (hint: get stronger). However, in your screaming fervor to get started, be careful not overlook the more subtle signals that your body might be whispering to you after a month of libertine existence. Ugh Week is the perfect time to hold on for a moment and reflect on what your first step should be. If you jump right into a Paleo, gluten- and dairy-free, intermittent fasting diet and a 6 day-a-week fat burning program like you did last year, there is a very good chance you will have the same results you had last year. For most people this is 3 days of strict adherence, 7 days of “modification,” followed by 354 days of “man, I need to lose some weight.” If instead you listen to what your body is telling you and take advantage of some early intrinsic motivation, you may be able to better plan for your fitness goals and harness the confidence of your early gains to stay focused for longer. For example, let’s say that like me the thing you noticed over the last month is that you hate being sedentary and snacking all the time. Maybe a good first step back on the Path will be daily walks and 3 square meals a day. In a few weeks, you can tweak this or that, but for right now just take the time to listen and start fresh.
Here’s the Ugh Week Checklist to help you out:
1. What is one thing that you wish you could do every day that you have been unable to do for the past month?
2. When during the day are you the most motivated to do anything positive?
3. What is a recent nutritional choice that you enjoyed the least in the past month?
Got your answers? Now prepare for Coach Stevo’s Ugh Week Challenge:
For the next two weeks, do #1 at time #2 and don’t do #3.
Yeah it’s that simple and with any luck, it might even be easy for the first week. I’m not saying that it will always be easy. You’re likely going to feel Stage 5 Resolution Guilt when all your friends tell you about their Paleo, gluten- and dairy-free, intermittent fasting diet and 6 day-a-week fat burning program. But stick it out for two weeks then look around at how many of those friends are sneaking buttered baguettes. As any endurance runner will tell you, it’s hard to start a race slowly, but the true reward comes from passing all the people who made you feel slow at the finish line. By making reasonable decisions at first, you are better placed to start tackling more difficult habits later. The real challenge of Ugh Week is having the courage to start fresh and the patience to take it slow.