If you stop using that new gym membership by February – you are not alone
As I have written before, (“Beyond Kale and Pedicures” link here) we are a very enthusiastic self-help culture. Many of us love the feeling of fresh starts and make frequent commitments to better lifestyle choices and behaviors.
Making resolutions brings temporary relief to whatever mess we feel we’re in (financial, weight, exercise, TV, sugar, alcohol – insert your favorite struggle here) until we fall off the wagon. And, as the data shows, we fall off the wagon a lot!
Fitness centers count on this very human flaw of ours: They know that only 33% of all of the memberships they sell will convert into regular users. Put it this way: if everyone who buys a membership actually used the gym, fitness centers would be completely over capacity, every day! And that never happens, right? Gyms have a few peak hours, of course, after work or on weekends (and especially in January), where you may have to line up for a machine or have to sign-up for a particularly popular class, but over the year this all works itself out since sixty-seven per cent of all paying members never use the place.
Yet many people keep on paying their dues, either because they are locked into a year-long commitment, or because having the membership alleviates their guilt. Somehow having that gym card in our wallets provides the ongoing promise to ourselves that next week, (next week for sure!) we will go and recoup that investment.
But many of us don’t.
That is also why there is a thriving multi-billion dollar self-improvement industry that keeps on pumping out new wisdom and tips every January: We buy new books and follow “lifestyle” gurus, we spend more money on organizers and products that will make us look younger, thinner or bigger, stronger and richer.
We all start out with the best of intentions, of course. But then, then our real life becomes challenging again – a loved one gets ill, deadlines pile up and we can’t make it to the workouts, or we get sick and are too tired to keep cooking healthy foods … then we stop completely and feel guilty about it. By March, that new treadmill in your basement becomes a drying rack for your kid’s hockey equipment, and that juicer starts collecting dust above your fridge. Then, as a result of this so-called failure, we self-blame which leads to more eating/spending/inertia/nine hour Netflix binges or whatever is your Achilles heel.
You know what I mean?
How can we break that cycle?
To celebrate the start of 2018, I would like to share some of my favorite strategies in the coming weeks. I will also mention some great resources that I have used for years to stay well and to stop committing to resolutions that set me up for failure.
If you are interested in reading more on self-care, please have a look at The Compassion Fatigue Workbook (link here) where I discuss self-assessment strategies in depth.
Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed., CCC., RP
Specialist in High-Stress Workplaces
Co-Executive Director, TEND
Next blog post: Taming the inner critic
Week three: Take stock
Week four: Develop an action plan