Krogel: Exercise offers a health reward worth pursuing
It’s that time of year again. The overeating I did over Christmas and the shameful consumerism I exhibited on Boxing Day are fading out of my memory, making New Year’s resolutions actually seem feasible.
The idea that a change of date can allow us to better ourselves in ways we previously couldn’t, seems nonsensical.
Yet many of us rigorously scribble down the things we want to change, in the hope that our illogical reasoning could turn out to be right.
Equally strange is the reality that most of us know our willpower begins to fade around two weeks into January, and yet we still write down our resolutions with our utmost effort and sincerity. Why is it that our earnest desires to change have such little effect?
Maybe it’s because when we tell ourselves not to do something, we are still focusing on that particular thing.
If your New Year’s resolution is to spend less time on Facebook, the more you think about your resolution, the more you will think about Facebook.
I often find it difficult to resist spending excess time on the computer or my phone, but simply thinking about avoiding these things actually makes doing so extremely difficult.
However, if I consider the fact that instead of aimlessly browsing photos of people I don’t know, I could be making artwork to put up in my bedroom, the idea of leaving the computer actually seems appealing.
So rather than focusing on a negative “don’t-do-this,” fixate your attention on the positive things that will replace the habit you wish to avoid.
If focusing on avoiding bad habits actually incites you to do them, shouldn’t this be even truer when it comes to good habits you want to start? Not necessarily.
When you focus on the positive side of avoiding something, these positive things are immediately within reach.
Having more free time is the instant effect of not going on Facebook. But when you’re trying to start a new habit, the positive outcome isn’t always right there.
A resolution to exercise more won’t have you seeing or feeling noticeable changes in your fitness for six to eight weeks—enough time for your willpower to be weakened by the lack of results.
If your resolution is to start doing something, look for ways that it can be instantly rewarding. Every time my schedule involves me exercising, I go through a long process of convincing myself why I should be doing it.
When I come home from running outside, I can’t observe a dramatic improvement in my health—this takes time.
But what I can enjoy right away is being outside in the fresh air, shamelessly drinking from my neighbour’s sprinklers, and knowing that I am doing something that’s good for me.
So when it comes to your New Year’s resolution, remind yourself why you’re doing it and focus on the benefits it will bring, rather than the current obstacles. And remember, your decision to make positive changes in your life can be made any time of the year.
Amber Krogel is a Grade 12 student at Kelowna Christian School.