Even though we’re a couple of weeks into 2022, I’m going to say it anyway: Happy New Year! This being the first Bar Talk column of the year, I wanted to start by saying that I hope you enjoyed a very healthy and happy holiday season with friends and family.
It’s also my hope that you finished 2021 feeling proud of the progress you made towards the goals and objectives you set for yourself over the last year.
Let’s face it, 2021 wasn’t the Covid-free walk in the park we all hoped it would be at this time last year. For many of us, the ongoing pandemic has brought a constant low-grade stress and anxiety that made sticking to goals more challenging than usual.
That said, forget about 2021; it’s now in the history books, and our history is not our destiny. We have a new year and a brand new set of blank pages to write our daily life story on, starting today. Remember, you will never be younger than you are at this moment right now! One day we will not be able to do all the physical things we enjoy doing now, but today is not that day.
Good news/bad news time: January routinely brings a tide of new resolutions (good), but the overwhelming majority of over 80 percent, according to Statista and University of Scranton data, are abandoned by the end of February (bad). When it comes to fitness-related goals, the white flag gets waved even sooner. Strava did the research with the uploaded data over 800 million user-logged exercise activities and found that people are most likely to throw in the towel on Jan. 19. They even have a name for it: ‘Quitters Day.’
Why resolutions fail is a topic unto itself, and one that I wrote about at the start of last year (“Getting it done in 2021”), but it’s primarily related to consistency in forming habits. Early on in our endeavors to stick with new resolutions, it’s mission-critical to adopt the mindset that choice is not an option and doing what you set out to do is the only acceptable outcome for the day.
I recognize that’s a simple but not easy approach, and it’s human nature to identify and latch on to any reasonable reasons (commonly known as excuses) not to do the thing we don’t feel like doing. It’s worth pointing out the obvious fact: excuses and justifications are the starting steps down the path to the landfill where all of those 80 percent of thrown-out resolutions end up.
One thing we don’t need any studies or statistics to tell us is that getting outside to exercise when the temperature drops can involve some heavy mental lifting that calls for an extra boost of perseverance and grit. If you live here in eastern PA, you’ve no doubt picked up on the fact that it’s gotten a bit chilly (as in sub-zero wind chills), and the extended forecast shows we likely have another two weeks of the deep freeze to contend with.
If your goals include getting outside, here are a few tips to help make sure your motivation doesn’t plummet along with the temperatures:
- Make a plan: Hope is not a strategy, and ‘someday’ is the 8th day of the week. It never arrives. Look at your calendar for this coming week and make a calendar commitment to yourself on when you will be working out.
- Build your team: Who in your life is also committed to increasing their exercise this year? Reach out to them and partner up to battle the cold. Not only will the team-spiritedness be an enjoyable aspect from a conversational standpoint, but including someone else in the plan is also a proven commitment enforcement strategy. Simply put, we are much less likely to cancel on a friend than we are to cancel on ourselves.
- Layer up: There is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices. There is no need to go out and buy the latest Arctic expedition apparel; just add a couple of layers that are easy to remove once you warm up.
- Seize the opportunity! It may sound crazy if you’re not a fan of the cold, but living in an area with a legitimate winter season brings advantages that folks living in warmer parts of the country can only wish for! Before you say, “they can have it!” consider the fact that here in the Lehigh Valley we have an enviable list of readily available outdoor options for winter fun and fitness. I say that with the admitted bias of an avid skier, but there’s plenty more beyond that. For example, biking, running and walking on the network of local trails, including the Saucon Rail Trail. Want to go for a hike? There are plenty of options for that, and Traillink.com can point you in the right direction. Been a while since you put some skates on? Head over to Steel Ice in Bethlehem and get some solid cardio in at one of their daily public skating sessions. When it comes to skiing and tubing, Bear Creek, Blue Mountain, Jack Frost and Big Boulder are all options that are sure to combine plenty of fun to go along with an elevated heart rate. Even just strolling around downtown Bethlehem window shipping gets you out of the house and active, delivering fresh air and an elevated mood along with the health benefits of getting your step count up for the day. One last suggestion is to remember that every playground has all the tools you need for a full-body workout, and during the winter months they are often crowd-free and open for business, no gym membership required! Here’s a link for some starting ideas, but there are plenty of other options if you get creative or Google ‘playground workouts.’ The 5-Move Full-Body Playground Workout (Bodybuilding.com).
As with most things, our perspective determines what we see. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. That certainly holds true for the winter months and the potential for outdoor enjoyment. Get out there and keep your 2022 goals and resolutions from getting frozen in place!
Eric Bartosz is the founder of BAR40 and the author of the internationally acclaimed and bestselling book ‘BAR40: Achieving Personal Excellence.’ He lives in Center Valley with his wife Trish, daughter Riley and pug Piper, is an adjunct MBA professor at DeSales University and serves the community as an Upper Saucon firefighter, a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley and a local race organizer. Eric is a 20+ year runner and racer and can often be found logging miles on the Saucon Rail Trail.