Fight the resolution failure trend: “Just show up!”


HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — It’s early morning and as I drive on to the base, I’m fully prepared to be annoyed. I’m ready to roll my eyes and mutter under my breath — about the gym’s jam-packed parking lot, the extra bodies in the locker room, and the crowded cardio and weight equipment areas. It’s the predictability of it all that triggers my fitness sarcasm. Every year, everyone makes the same ambitious New Year’s resolutions to get in the best shape of their lives, and everyone decides to start at exactly the same time.

C’mon, admit it. I know it’s not just me. The influx of squeaky, fresh-out-of-the-box sneakers and expensive filtering water bottles breeds cynicism among the “regulars” at the gym who wear running shoes that need to be replaced and drink out of their kids’ old soccer water bottles. Those who show up religiously three or four or six days a week see the uptick in attendance as a temporary intrusion, smirking to themselves, “These guys will be gone within a month.”

And the truth is, they’re usually right.

Numerous research studies have followed success rates for resolutions and findings show that the first two weeks usually go along swimmingly, but by February people are backsliding and by the following December most are right back where they started, or even further behind. In fact, one dismal report by the Harris Interactive Group states that 73 percent of adults who make fitness resolutions give up before meeting any of their goals.

Great news for those of us who like having the gym to ourselves, right? Here’s the irony, though. The fitness influx didn’t happen this morning — and it actually had me a little concerned.

I found myself wondering, “Is everyone still on leave? Are they starting their new regimens with an outside jog? Or is it something worse? Maybe more people than ever are actually giving up without getting started.”

Even with the popularity of concepts like “work-life balance,” an abundance of civilian health promotion services programs, the availability of workday fitness time, and general acceptance of the notion that better health choices lead to a longer life, people neglect and abandon their desire for healthier lifestyles at an alarming rate.

I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not an exercise physiologist. I’m just a person who wants to live for a long time to see my young children grow up and hopefully have the chance to meet their children someday. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how to reverse the findings in those resolutions studies. But I do know that it absolutely starts with showing up.

And it’s hard. There are plenty of days when we don’t want to. Some are even legitimately excuse-worthy. But, those are the days when it’s most important to keep your promise to yourself.

Exercise is critical for everyone. So if you’ve made a fitness resolution, show up. Show up on Jan. 3. Show up on Jan. 4. And when you feel like you’ve had enough, show up again. Do it for yourself. Do it for those who love you. Or if nothing else, do it just to annoy the people who prefer an empty gym.