I hope you’re having a great holiday season. We’re entering the final stretch now, moving from the gift-giving, party-throwing, sugary-food-eating season toward New Year’s Day and the last-year-regretting, new-life-planning, resolution-setting, fitness-desiring, top-of-the-year reset.
It’s Resolution Season
This is typically a time when people decide they want to make a clean start. They leave behind old lifestyle choices that haven’t lead to good results. Sometimes, they really mean to make a significant change in their lives, sometimes they are just trying to cope with their sense of remorse for where they are now. Whatever their reasoning, New Year’s Day seems like the perfect time to start a new slate. A clean calendar, a clean conscience, and a clean start.
I think it’s a well-worn trope in American culture that most New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past January 31. For that matter, very few make it all the way to January 2. For everyone who has launched headlong into a New Year’s resolution, someone else has already given up and written it off. It’s easy to get cynical. After all, everyone already knows that resolutions don’t last, right?
I think that’s a cop-out. That’s an easy excuse for not giving it your all on making a meaningful life change. Saying, “I’m not going to make it to the end of January, so why start?” is just as bad as saying, “well, it’s January 4th and forgot my goal today, so I might as well quit.”
Let’s not live our lives like that.
Every Day Can Be New Year’s Day
I personally believe that every day can be New Year’s Day. If you feel like you need the first day of January — or the first day of a new month — to have a fresh start on a life change, then let’s change the rules. Every time you open your eyes, decide right then that that day is going to be New Year’s Day, even if it’s May 9th or October 22nd. It can be any day of the month, any day of the week, or any day of the year.
The Most Popular Resolution?
One of the big life changes I see people deciding to make at the beginning of the year is getting in shape. It’s a very popular New Year’s resolution. The gyms are overflowing with new memberships, diet books fly off the shelves, and people behave themselves when Amber from Accounting brings donuts to the office. God bless them. As much as we all know they won’t all follow through, I really hope more people every year stick to that commitment.
The problem is, there’s a lot of logistics that go into making a life change like that. First, they have to find the budget for it. Then they have to find time in their busy days when they can consistently schedule a workout. It sounds easy until the first time something happens that they didn’t expect and their best-laid plan goes to pot. The before-work exercisers oversleep once and their routine is shot. The after-work exercisers get held over at work and their plan is in the trash. They have to remember to bring workout clothes and a bag to work with them, so the first time they forget, they give up.
These sound like little things, but lifestyle habit changes take time and persistence to develop, and if you don’t have an iron-clad reason to do it in your heart, the lazy part of your soul (and everyone has one) will generate an excuse to quit faster than you can say, “overslept.”
It’s not enough to want to do something new. Really, it’s not even enough to want a completely different life. You have to have a purpose that is bigger than the excuses that will absolutely try to throw you off course. There are always obstacles that come to test your resolve. Jesus described it as a farmer planting seeds. He said, instantly birds come to pick up the loose seeds, heat comes to wither the weak seedlings, and weeds come to choke out the established seeds. The Universe – or whatever you want to call it – will test your resolve (your faith) to see if you really believe what you think you believe.
You must have a “why” bigger than your excuses or you will quit. I can feel some of my readers giving up already. Are you one?
So, What Do We Do Now?
Rather than give up on a good goal like getting in shape, let’s reshape it into something more manageable, so we improve our odds of sticking with it when the tests come.
As my post-Christmas gift to you, I want to give you a workout plan that you can implement today and continue with faithfully from now on. You can do it every single day until it becomes a habit. It doesn’t require a gym membership, expensive workout clothes, or even new shoes. It doesn’t take two hours out of your day, like a trip to the gym often does (that kills the time excuse)
In fact, you can do it in the comfort of your own home in 15 minutes (that kills the expensive gym excuse). And it will give you a workout second to none, a workout more powerful, with longer-lasting health benefits than jogging.
High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training alternates high-intensity bursts of exercise (20-30 seconds) with slow, recovery phases (10 seconds). You’d be amazed at what you can do in five minutes. Set a timer and do this:
- Jumping jacks (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- Push-ups (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- Run in place, lifting your knees up to waist level (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- Windmills (20 seconds)
- Rest (10 seconds)
- Cool down (30 seconds)
- Repeat the whole cycle, and then take 30 seconds to cool down and stretch.
If you know other exercises that get your heart pumping, like burpees or jumping rope, substitute them in. The sky’s the limit, and I have videos on my YouTube channel that you can easily implement into your plan. If you like to bike as a part of your exercise, try pedaling at full intensity for 20 seconds, then coasting for 10. Do you have bleachers or a hill nearby, run up at full speed in 20-second bursts.
You Can Do This
If you get nothing else from this article, I hope you will consider adding this simple, five-minute process to your morning. You can find five minutes in your morning to improve your health and extend your life. After a few weeks, you will probably want to add a minute, then another, then another (I wouldn’t advise going past 15 or 20 minutes or you will reach a point of diminishing returns).
Shocking Returns for a Five-Minute Investment
Now, you’ve invested five minutes in your health, but just look at the benefits:
- Increased energy
- Boosted metabolism
- Improved libido
- Better mood and attitude
- Improved muscle tone
- Reduced body fat
- Increased longevity
- Suppressed hunger mechanisms
- Decreased stress hormones
According to Dr. Josh Axe, “High-intensity workouts promote a very unique environment where leptin is relatively impervious to the negative effects of testosterone elevation, as no relationship between the two could be in a clinical trial. By doing burst training exercises, you’ll receive the benefit of both weight-loss promoting hormones!”
The benefits of exercise are not hidden or surprising – we as a culture have known about these benefits for generations. The key is getting the right kind of exercise the right way to maximize those benefits in our lives.
Get More Information
There’s so much more that can be said about this than we have room for in this blog space. If you’d like to learn more about High-Intensity Interval Training, I’d recommend these articles (here, here, and here), which go deeper and include videos. I think you’ll find them to be rich with information.
In the end, the thing I want most for you is quick results. I want you to see how much better you feel and how easy it was to get it. Because when something feels good, you are more likely to repeat it and get further results, until it becomes a habit. And then, watch out!
If you are thinking about getting in shape in 2019, take a few seconds right now to print out this article and put it somewhere you will see it often. Let the truth of how easy this can be take root in your mind until you feel certain you can do it. Then, nothing can stop you. And take a few seconds to share this on your favorite social media site. You might be surprised at who is looking for this information right now.
If you live in the Naples area, and you have questions about this exercise plan, or you want to talk about your spinal and muscular alignment before you start an exercise regimen, visit my office behind the YMCA on Pine Ridge Road. If you have a history of back pain, joint pain, or stiffness, let’s take a look and establish a plan for getting your bones and muscles into alignment as you are starting this interval training. I think you’ll be happier with the long-term results if you start with a properly-aligned foundation.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas