I have made them. You probably have too. Exercise-based New Year resolutions are as much a part of the festive season as overcooked turkey and the excessive consumption of brandy custard. The problem is, generally speaking, they just don’t work.
Disclosure: This article contains Fitbit and Tanita products that were provided to Blog of Dad for the purposes of review and ongoing use. For more information, visit my disclosure statement. This article also contains some general thoughts and reflections about health and fitness that are relevant to the author and his lifestyle. Readers should consult a doctor or other health professional for specific fitness and lifestyle advice tailored to their needs.
Sure, at about 11pm on the 31st December it seems like a good idea to try and counteract the Christmas kilos with an ambitious exercise schedule starting New Year’s Day. You may even be motivated enough to get out of bed early and go for that run beside the ocean. I’ve done it… several times.
In my experience, the problems start when reality kicks back in. The easy-going holidays lead into a gentle early January return to work, and the new you feels fresh and energised. But some time after Australia Day, the workload ramps up, the kids are back in school and life is back to its normal chaotic ways. The year is no longer new and the resolutions are forgotten.
This doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom when it comes to changing exercise and general health patterns. In fact, I find this new outlook quite liberating. Why? Because I’m not tying my health and fitness goals to a particular day and setting unattainable goals to go with it. I’m starting today.
My today is December 2nd, but yours can be whatever today is for you. I’m not planning on militant calorie counting or half-marathon training, but I am making a conscious decision to be more mindful of what I put into my body, and taking a bit more time each day to get moving.
For me, this timing actually makes a lot of sense. I know that the Christmas and New Year period will definitely be a time of good food, drinks and fun with family. If I can put in place some good healthy practices before the partying kicks off, such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits and reduced alcohol consumption, I can enjoy the festivities without feeling guilty about it! And, for most of us Australian dads, this is a perfect time of year to get up and active. The mornings are cool and beautiful, and there is plenty of incentive to get out and about outdoors with the family!
Thanks to having young children, my main meal diet isn’t terrible. We make sure we eat healthy foods with a good balance of food types. My problem with eating is the excessive snacking that occurs once the kids are in bed. There will be plenty of time to enjoy salty or sweet snacks when Christmas is in full swing, so for now they can and should be reduced.
The other piece of the picture is exercise. I’ll freely admit that my best intentions from the beginning of this year (yes… yet another failed New Year’s Resolution…) have gone out the window. I can blame Covid lockdowns, family commitments, work commitments, the bad weather… whatever. OR, I can forget about blame and recognise that my current lifestyle is too sedentary.
From today I plan to do something active every day. Whether that be a run around with the kids, or a family bike ride around the block, a sunrise run at the beach by myself, or even just some push-ups. Again, I’m not making any kind of firm schedule here – just a conscious decision to get up and get active regularly throughout the month. If I can achieve this, I will go into the New Year with a feeling that my health and wellness is already under control, rather than trying to force myself to change my habits in the heart of the festive period, simply because a sense of tradition says that I should. New Year Resolutions have failed time and time again, so frankly I’m excited to try this approach!
You don’t really need any equipment at all (other than perhaps a sturdy pair of running shoes) to make some healthy changes. However, there are a couple of items that can go a long way to helping track progress and keeping a reliable record of your journey. This is important, because anyone who has ever tried to lose weight before knows that the gains can sometimes be invisible and there are few things more demotivating than putting in a load of effort and feeling like you have gone nowhere.
The first piece of equipment that is helping me to stay on track and keep up the exercise is the Fitbit Versa 3 smartwatch. I reviewed this a couple of months ago, but I haven’t taken full advantage of it since because I had developed the I’ll do it in the New Year mentality. This thing is packed full of sensors to track my daily exercise and, as I have been wearing it (almost) daily over the past few months, it has given me an excellent baseline from which to begin. Seeing the uplift in my daily exercise will be easy.
The second piece of equipment is the Tanita BC-587 Glass Body Composition Monitor. The beauty of the BC-587 is that it goes so much further than a basic scale in terms of monitoring fitness progress. This is important, because relying on a scale to measure progress is fraught. Healthy changes do not always immediately result in weight loss, and for many of us dads weight loss may not even be the ultimate goal.
The BC-587 can be used to monitor and track body transformation, which is a very powerful thing. By measuring body fat percentage, total body water, muscle mass, BMR, metabolic age, visceral fat rating, physique rating and bone mass in addition to simply weight, the Tanita BC-587 can paint a detailed picture of health and change!
Weight has never been much of a concern for me, but with the Tanita BC-587, I can already see that my body fat percentage is higher than I would like, my muscle mass needs work and my visceral fat needs a little work.
Time will tell if this approach is successful or not. On January 1st 2022, I will be sure to take a moment to stop and reflect on my state of fitness. But I won’t be making a New Year resolution. This coming year, I will simply continue down the path that I started on today.