So it's March 2020 and the gym parking lot has resumed its regular half empty status; it is no longer packed full like it was at the start of the New Year. The negotiation for a place to park is over and order is restored for 2020. I see this every single year. (my office is located next to Premier Athletic Club for those who may not know) The New Year New Me glamour has officially lost its luster.
It always starts out so strong. From Jan 2nd till about now that parking lot is packed to such capacity I have trouble finding my own spot. While there are some who are gonna stick with it and have taken up permanent residency at the club most are already out of the running. I'm pretty sure I know why, at least partially...there are a few things vital to successfully prevailing in the long haul toward your actual living goals. They are simple but multifaceted, so let me start with 'managing your approach'.
People don't generally wake up one day a completely changed and adjusted person with a new routine, habit structure and constant renewed source of motivation,,, not even on New Years Day despite the fireworks, celebration, declaration, jazz hands and a globefull of people cheering you on,,, it's just not the way it works yet we act as if this is exactly how it works. Tomorrow I'm going to be a whole new person,,, because it's a different year now. Managing your approach means realizing that you are attempting to be a whole new person!
This, as you may imagine, takes some time and a lot of support. You are trying to create and embed new habits into your life, body, schedule, routine and mind. It doesn't happen over night but over time with regularity, rigor and determination until your new habits are strongly situated in your routine and lifestyle and this means in your body and nervous system! When you start anything new you DO NOT have the neural networks to support your new habit or skill (think of what it was like when you first drove a car. now apply that to the first time you tried driving to the gym before or after work. It's not going to come naturally) The actual muscular and neural networks must be created and strengthened, just like a workout!
You may have heard that it takes 3 weeks to 3 months to create a new habit and this is why!!! You have to literally build the new neural patterns of behavior and it takes time! This is why the New Year New Me equations, as lovely as it seems, is not an instant, glamorous manifestation makeover of the New Year but a steady, managed and well planned approach to commitment and change!
The next part of this is to realize that you have challenges and one of them is your absolute weakness and vulnerability. Yes. Think about it; you are going in totally raw, without any internal support and at the weakest and unhealthiest you are going to be in this whole process. And you need to be able to STAY IN THE GAME until those supports are established and your New Me attributes begin to emerge... in 3 weeks to 3 months. You are going it alone.
NOT TO MENTION that the cruel joke of New Years is that it's dead winter: cold, we're broke from Christmas, it's dark, we have seasonal depressive disorder and on and on... you are going up against that as well! We just want to go home and get on the couch. Is it a total excuse? Yes! But you still have to push through it for, again... 3 weeks to 3 months.
So my friends we now come to main adversary in your way. This is the one that's going to really make the difference. Can you find away to keep yourself pumped for the long run? YEAH. Do you have some mp3 that can cut through the dark of winter and light your way to the gym, or to the special foods store, or the cooking class? Yes yes yes! Did you have a difficult day at work and you just want to go home? Um... yeaaahh. Can you just not even? Can you not even put on your amazing, unstoppable mp3? Are you too... stressed? Yes.
I suggest, at this point, reviewing my blogposts on the anatomy of stress.
We all deal with some level of stress and this is totally shown in the way we need to 'unwind' from our workday. Some levels of this stress are healthy and keep us animated but for many of us these stress levels border on anxiety, prolonged and chronic stress and even to panic disorders. In either case stress drains your energy, keeps you focused on your comfort zone and makes it way too easy to disrupt and cancel our commitment to the 3 weeks/3 months period of building new habits. Yes these activities can and will combat stress on their own, but in the beginning, while your muscles and nerves are weak and like a baby the challenge itself may feel... stressful. I,,,, my friends,,, can help. You must know where I'm going with this...
Para... Sympa... Thetic...Nervous... System.
This is the rest and digest portion of your nervous system and it is never truly engaged... not like the fight or flight portion called the sympathetic nervous system.
The PNS and SNS are in constant flux throughout the day with SNS always winning out.
PNS is really like a total EMP on your stress when it is activated... but it needs to be activated. Ever get a massage? Massage is a LITERAL SWITCH on your nervous system activity! That peaceful feeling you get is PNS activation! It is shown that a 15 minute massage can manage stress for up to 3 days!!! A one hour massage up to 2 weeks! Massage is an excellent way to manage your stress while you give your nervous system and muscles the chance to create new patterns and networks, build new habits and routines that will serve you for a lifetime!!!
A 15 minute massage every week, a half hour every other week, an hour every month... each of these are a good approach. When it comes to using massage as stress management, or pain management, more truly is more::: if you could get a massage everyday then, well, wow good for you! But this guideline is helpful for.. you know... reality.
Spring is on the way and there's no shame in re-energizing your New Year pursuits... but this time with the refreshing Spring and some massage appointments!!! The massage is great because it's not only a means but an end of itself... it's a reward and a tool! Come in, lay down and let me do the work!!! Happy New Year!