May 25 2018
Exercise has been proven to help many women combat anxiety.
We all have one—that healthy New Year’s resolution that we make year after year, with the best intentions of making this the year we follow through. Maybe yours is losing weight, or eating a salad every day, or drinking more water, but mine is the classic: “I’m going to work out every day this year.” Some years it’s a pledge to work out six days a week, some years it’s to just move my body in some way every single day, but basically, when December 31st rolls around, I’m all about exercise, all the time.
You know how this ends. Everything goes well for a few weeks as I go running, hit the yoga mat, and try out different strength classes. Then the novelty wears off, life gets busy, and I’m lucky to work out three or four times a week. But the real problem is that when I ultimately fail to keep my resolution, I beat myself up so badly that I stop working out altogether. It’s kind of like when you swear you’re going to eat healthy and then have a big bowl of ice cream, so you decide you might as well give up and just eat some pizza and fries too because you’ve already screwed up. When I start missing a class here or a run there I feel like a failure and have no interest in trying at all anymore. There’s a reason why gyms are insanely busy in January and a ghost town by March; a gung-ho attitude like mine just isn’t sustainable.
It’s taken many years but I’m finally recognizing the damage that the all-or-nothing mindset actually does. Such a lofty pledge begs for disappointment and guarantees frustration. My resolution to work out every day was less of a healthy goal and more of an unforgiving mandate that left no room to be human. I know now that if I don’t build in some kind of flexibility into this year’s resolution, this only thing I’m resolving to do is fail miserably (and to be miserable).
So this year, it’s time for a new resolution. I’m not going to do a 180 and just promise “to be kind to myself” or “try to be healthy;” those ideas are too vague and wishy-washy for me. I still need structure, but this time it will be structure with wiggle room. In 2017 I’m aiming to run three days a week, with two additional days for whatever workouts I’m into at the moment. I feel confident that I can stick with it, because it’s not too much running, and the flexibility of my other workouts means I’m so much more likely to follow through because I can do yoga or boot camp or whatever I’m loving at the time. Hopefully, this year’s resolution will turn into a lifestyle and I’ll never need to make another one again.