Posted February 14, 2010

Happy Drop-out Day!!!

Ah, Valentines Day. For those of you with a significant other it’s either a great day to show love or an additional task that forces you to to purchase a card or flowers or something like that to show your love in a way that you normally would not. For those of you without a significant other, it’s a day of reflection on how you don’t have a significant other, or a celebration of being single. For those of us who work in health clubs and gyms, it’s the day the insanity of January is finally over and we return to a place of business that isn’t as crowded with those who are just beginning to workout from their New Year’s resolutions. Across the health and fitness industry, this is essentially Black Sunday, six weeks from the start of the New Year. To see why this happens, lets look at a common timeline.

Six weeks ago, millions of people set a goal of beginning to work out and get fit, so they start working out in earnest. Their first few workouts were uncomfortable (they don’t know what to do in the gyms yet), somewhat painful (first workouts usually produce some soreness they aren’t used to), and involves a change to a set routine that has been in place for many years until now. More than 50% of those who join health clubs will  stop going regularly within the first three weeks of January because of these negativities. Come Valentine’s Day, many people will go out for a dinner, forgetting their carefully planned diets and eat lots of carbs, dessert and alcohol. This meal alone will typically cause a weight gain of a few pounds through water retention, so when they step on the scale and see a weight gain the next day, they become depressed and stop working out because “this exercise thing isn’t working!!” Most people take a minimum of 6 weeks to begin seeing tangible changes, so they are giving up just before they can start to see the real results they are looking for. Of all the people who joined health clubs in January, more than 80% will not be regularly attending after Valentines Day.

So how do we keep ourselves motivated to continue working out after this deadline? The first step should be to chane your goals to something other than simply weight loss or feeling better. These goals are great, however they can present a focus on a moving target that you can’t really get a good view of. Instead, try to set a physical accomplishment goal that will cause you to lose weight or feel better in the process. One of my clients was looking to lose weight, and had worked with other trainers in the past. She mentioned that she loved running and used to swim regulary, as well she had a road bike at home she hadn’t used very often in the past decade. I suggested she train for a triathlon, as she had all the elements available to her right there, so she jumped at the opportunity to “feel like an athlete.” Along the way she is still losing weight and inches, while training for something new and exciting that she never thought she would be able to do. May 30th is coming up quick, and she’d better be ready!!!

Another step is to roll with the punches. Change will be sort of like the stock market, full of ups and downs. Whenever there is a down turn (ie. weight gain), we have to adjust our mindset to accept that it happened, and to find out why. Women will gain and lose weight on a monthly cycle. In most cases a weight gain is simply a short term water retention, and will go away on its’ own. Don’t get down on yourselves if there is a regression, because after all, we are all human and this is going to happen sometimes.

Improving health is a long-term process that can’t be measured simply in pounds and inches lost, or in miles run. This is one situation where the process is the goal itself. Plus, by working out we feel better about ourselves, look better, have more energy, and have a healthier sex drive, which always helps out on Valentines Day.

Have a great one!!!!