Beyond Resolutions: Seven Things to Try in 2017

Every January, a slew of Americans who have gorged themselves over the holidays while binge watching some new Netflix series (hey, we’ve all been there) decide to turn over a new leaf and sign up for gym memberships. (Some of them even stick around for the year.)   

If you’re a gym owner, this is actually the perfect time to test out or tweak your onboarding strategies to keep new members motivated and consistent, even after the resolution glean starts to fade. If you’re an athlete, you might be waiting for the gym to clear out in a few months’ time so you can start using the squat rack again. But what about your goals?   

Pesky holidays, gyms closing between Christmas and New Year’s, mandatory work parties, oh and going on vacation or celebrating holidays with family can sidetrack all but the most dedicated of athletes. Not to mention all the candy canes and Christmas cookies—or potato latkes and sufganiyot (that’s an old Hebrew word for deep-fried jelly donuts) if you’re Jewish, like me. Not Paleo, guys. 

In all seriousness, January can be a good time to recommit to your goals, whatever they might be. Now, some of you may already have yours all sorted for the year. You know the PRs you want to hit, which events you want to medal in, or what body composition goals you’d like to attain… and have already written out monthly and weekly goals to get there. Or maybe you want to get back to your sleep schedule, give up caffeine (gasp!), or do something to deal with that niggling injury you’ve been feeding NSAIDs and icing and taping.   

If you’re not in this group, and find yourself less excited about your goals, or your motivation waning…or if you’re entertaining the notion of trying something different or just want to mix things up a bit, I’ve compiled a few suggestions. (Some are loosely based on a worldwide survey of fitness trends predicted for the coming year that the American College of Sports Medicine releases at the end of every year.)   

1. Go Outdoors 

This may not be practical for you yet if there’s still sub-zero temperatures or snow on the ground, but if you live somewhere that’s not freezing, have good cold tolerance, or don’t mind holding out until summer or spring, getting out of the gym can be invigorating. Climbing mountains is a lot more exhilarating than the Versaclimber; I promise you that. Rowing on the water with oars will make you feel alive in a way that a C2 rower never will. Or try running on a trail or biking on a real bicycle—ideally in gorgeous surroundings—instead of sticking solely to the treadmill or stationary bike. An added bonus is that you family or friends may be into joining you on a hike or a bike ride or whatnot, and they probably won’t be as excited about you dragging them along to a box gym to stare at a TV screen while “walking” on the elliptical.  

2. Get Appy 

One of the benefits of indoor training is that it’s pretty easy to track your results when a machine spits them. Luckily, even nature fiends can make use of the millions of fitness and activity trackers out there. Even if you’re not excited about putting on a heart rate monitor or using wearable technology, there are about five zillion exercise apps that will track your workouts (and daily activity) and let you compare your results over time. Heck, there’s even Sleep Cycle, which will track the time you’ve spent in bed and your sleep quality (and mood upon waking up). Of course, no app is 100 percent accurate, though they do seem to be improving over time... Give it a try and see if any are useful for you.   

3. Leave Your Phone At Home 

I’ll admit that I’m a slave to my iPhone. I like to think I’m simply using it to track my weights and times, double check videos, or make sure I’m resting for exactly 90 seconds (or whatever) between sets, but the truth is that I’m checking Instagram and looking at pictures of puppies, responding to text messages, and seeing what’s trending on Twitter. So as long as I’m singing the virtues of fitness apps, I wanted to give a bit of lip service to spiral notebooks, too. One of my goals for 2017 is to take a week (or heck, a month) to see what happens if I keep my phone in my pocket…or my car (I know, painful). My guess is that I’ll get through the workouts quicker, send fewer distracted texts, and maybe even stop thinking about work for an hour or two. Join me? 

4. Work With A Coach 

A few months ago, I heard someone bragging about how his weightlifting form was better than everyone he’d seen at the box gym he trained at, despite the fact that he’d never had any coaching. I told him that “everyone else at the gym” might not be the best litmus test. Beyond that, the truth is that even if we think we know a ton about fitness and believe our form is perfect, we may still be making small errors (or big ones!) without realizing it. You don’t need to have terrible proprioception like me to have blind spots. Having someone else take a look can make a tremendous difference. That person could be a personal trainer, or a coach who does small or large group training, but it might even be a private session with a coach you work with already. It could even be a really good physical therapist or bodyworker who looks at movement patterns and uses it to inform their treatment and the rehab/prehab exercises they give you. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be related to physical activity. Sometimes nutrition coaching, wellness coaching, or even working with a sports psychologist can help you align your values and your goals. (Not to mention the value of business coaching or consulting for people looking to increase their revenue or get their gym running more smoothly.) If you’re stumped and tired of trying to research or figure things out yourself, turn to a qualified expert that you trust and follow their suggestions. 

5. Go To A Seminar 

If you’re feeling disillusioned or unmotivated in your training, there’s nothing like being surrounded by like-minded folks and learning from the best minds in the industry to re-ignite that spark for the sport or activity you love. And if you’re a coach, going to a good conference or a certification course will not only up your game and make you even more valuable to your clients, it’s also tax-deductible,  and you probably need the CEUs anyway. Make 2017 the year that you finally get around to going to that seminar you’ve always wanted to go to. If your budget’s too tight this year, you can probably still afford an online course or a DVD. Consider getting together with a friend or two and working through material together. Study groups will keep you motivated, and you can help each other if anything’s confusing. 

6. Beyond Foam Rollers 

Yep, we all know about foam rollers and probably most of us even do cursory roll-outs before our workouts, but that may not be enough. Or maybe you’ve got a stash of tools (a Theracane, The Stick, various resistance bands, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, etc., etc.) that you whip out occasionally when you’re injured but neglect to use to prevent injuries. That doesn’t mean you need to follow the MobilityWOD program or do anything crazy... but spending five or 10 minutes during your warm up and rest days can make a huge difference (and you can do it in front of the TV or whatever). Added bonus if you’re working on fixes for your specific movement imbalances/injuries.   

7. Recommit To Sleep 

Here at the PM, we've moved on from recommending everyone reread Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T.S. Wiley every winter, but that doesn't make sleep any less important, especially this time of year. If you've gotten away from your sleep schedule, do yourself a favor this year and make it a priority to get to bed early and to get enough sleep, consistently. Maybe that means getting those blackout curtains you've been eyeing, getting some sunlight first thing in the morning, and spending the hour before bed away from television, computer, or cell phone screens. Maybe it means spending a half hour meditating before bed, taking a supplement to improve your sleep, and making sure your bedroom temperature is perfect. Maybe it means changing your work hours to ones more aligned with your health. Maybe all those things are completely unrealistic, but you can at least take more naps, get a sleep mask, start using f.lux, and adjust the colors of your phone display when it's dark. (On iOS, that's in Settings->Display & Brightness->Night Shift). If sleep's an issue, just do whatever you can to incrementally improve in this area.  

Bottom Line   

If any of these suggestions stand out to you, come up with your own variations if needed, pencil them in your calendar, and have at it. And make sure to let me know what your results are! Heck, you might even want to write an article about it.

Yael Grauer is an independent journalist, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt, and managing editor of Performance Menu. Find her at https://www.yaelwrites.com or on Twitter.

The views expressed in this article may not be that of USA Weightlifting. Publication of all articles is to share different opinions and viewpoints. For instruction on the lifts from USA Weightlifting visit www.usaweightlifting.org



      Get a 25% discount when you use the code "usaw" and the Performance Menu Journal will donate 20% of all subscriptions to support the athletes of USA Weightlifting. Subscribe HERE.