Why Your New Year’s Resolution Sucked Last Year (And How You Can Make This Year’s Better)


Screen-Shot-2012-12-05-at-4.23.21-PM.pngStatistics say that about half (45%) of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions usually involve self improvement, money, and/or weight loss. In fact, 38% of resolvers wanted to lose weight in 2012.

Only 8% of all resolvers attained their goal in 2012.

And that’s not for lack of trying. Over 75% of people were still on their new path to self improvement after 2 whole weeks last January! That number trickled down gradually until June, when fewer than half (46%) of American resolvers were still losing weight, working out, saving money, etc. Pitiful, but I have to say I was a little surprised it was even that many.

To avoid this scenario, my New Year’s Resolutions often involve doing more of the things I actually enjoy, like watching more TV, drinking more alcohol, or eating more sugary treats.

Just kidding.

Silly 2012 Resolutions

Seriously, though, in January of 2012 I resolved to rock climb a 5.13d sport route, and I failed. I am sadly among the losers in that 8%.

How about you? Did you resolve to lose 100 pounds by June and it just didn’t work out so you quit… in February? Or maybe you resolved to eat only 4 grams of carbs a day for the next… well, forever, because resolutions are permanent … and you found yourself eating a bag of oreos on January 4th and gave up because all was lost anyway?

Here’s what’s wrong with this resolution-making tradition.

Our resolutions are lofty, we usually have too many of them (see the picture at the top), and we’re often unprepared to accomplish them. I, for instance, wasn’t fit enough to climb that hard this year. I needed to do some research on training, perhaps actually employ a coach, and then train really hard. While I did some research and talked with some coaches, I didn’t actually train as hard as I needed to. I thought the strength and fitness I already had would be enough. WRONG.

Maybe you resolved last year to lose 20 pounds in 2012. That number doesn’t seem too big, right? Especially if you’re among the many who need to lose a lot more than that. But if you’re like most people, losing 2 pounds, much less 20 pounds, is a colossal undertaking (enter a decade’s worth of diet industry sales numbers here).

It’s hard to lose weight.

Here, of course, is where the Paleo diet enters this Paleo blogger’s blog post: Just eat Paleo this year, and you’ll probably lose those 20 pounds and then some!

Do your research.

But you need to know about the Paleo diet in order to achieve your weight loss goal. There are all kinds of ways of eating that will help you lose weight, though – not just Paleo. It’s up to you to do your research–and do it well–to find out what will get you to your goal.

You need to find out all the ways of living, being, and eating that have actually worked for your friends and family who used to be overweight and aren’t anymore. Take them out to lunch, ask them really personal and detailed questions, notice what they order for lunch, and take notes on what they say.

Then read lots of books and blogs of all kinds (ahem) and email strangers online who seem to know what they’re talking about. Talk to your healthy friends and family who’ve never been overweight, and ask them how they do it, what and how much they eat, how often they exercise, and what kind of exercise they do. Then put all that information together and make a plan that fits YOU.

Don’t lie to yourself.

If your resolution – whether it be to lose weight or something totally different – is going to come to fruition, you need to be real with yourself. For instance, you might be thinking, ‘Alright, if I’m gonna make this change, I’m gonna make it completely and permanently on January 1st – no looking back.’

But are you really an all-in or all-out kind of person? Yes? Well, has it worked for you in the past or are you unsuccessful in other areas of your life where this mantra takes precedence, too? What I mean is, maybe you’re actually NOT a die-hard-take-it-all-on-at-once kind of person and you need to pace yourself for this to work.

I have a client who has systematically taken 3 months to integrate healthier eating habits into his life. He’s probably only lost 5-7 pounds in that time, but he’s sticking with it, learning a lot, and not overwhelming himself. For the first two weeks, his goal was simply to take out the 12 Cokes he was drinking every day. Done. Then, start eating breakfast. Two weeks later – done. Then it was to start removing some of the bread from his sandwiches from restaurants every day. And so on. Now he’s regularly cooking his own food for the first time ever and eating almost a completely Paleo diet, and he feels way better because of it.

Maybe you’re that person, too. Be honest with yourself and plan accordingly. Make a schedule of how you’re going to implement these changes.

Recruit support.

That client of mine also knew he needed a coach, and employed me for those three months to help him. Yes, that cost him money, but support is a big deal. If you know you need it, get a nutritionist, a life coach, or a friend to cheer you on, educate you, and keep you accountable.

Don’t have superficial motivations.

This pertains to every New Year’s resolution – not just weight loss. For instance, say your husband/wife/mom wants you to be more organized, so you resolve to be more organized, even though you couldn’t care less about organization… you’ll probably have an issue sticking with that resolution.

Same with weight loss. If the only reason you’re resolving to lose those pounds is because you want to look hot like Cameron Diaz…


or Mark Sisson


(yes, I just called Mark Sisson hot)…

then the changes you make to attain your goal are probably not gonna be everlasting. If they are everlasting, then you’re a superficial wanker. Seriously, though, you’ve gotta have some reason other than public adoration of your abs to want to do this. Like your health.

Get your blood work done. Go to a good holistic doc/naturopath/nutritionist who will give you the lowdown on your actual health. Get a DEXA scan done or go to a local gym and get your body fat tested with calipers. With all that info, you might find out you’re technically obese, or “very” overweight, or that you’re diabetic or almost diabetic. That should spark some passion from your inner self to make lasting changes. If nothing else, choose to make the change because it will make you a better person with a better life. People who are at a healthy weight with good fitness often feel better and live longer than people who are overweight, inflamed, and so out of shape it’s hard to walk up stairs.

Do this for yourself.

The toned abs and arms will come later :)

So that’s it. This is, in my humble opinion, how to make reasonable New Year’s Resolutions. Oh, and this year, make it a resolution – not many resolutions. Just pick one…

Anyone else want to chime in on the art of resolving?