The Only New Year’s Resolution You’ll Ever Need
Saturday, January 03, 2015
I’ll tell you what that secret is, in just a minute. It’s so ridiculously simple it’s silly. But first, some background into New Year’s resolutions and why they don’t work most of the time. Not surprisingly, the reason they fail is inversely proportional to the simple thing that makes them achievable.
The reason most resolutions don’t work is because people set huge, lofty goals rather than practical, achievable microgoals. They say "I’m going to drop 50 pounds by Valentine’s Day" instead of "I’m going to make better food choices, get a grip on emotional eating, kick my sugar habit, and walk every day for at least 30 minutes." Basically, they don’t chunk it down. Then, as the days, weeks and months progress and the grandiose and idealistic goal isn't achieved, feelings of failure, frustration, and apathy seem to grow proportionately.
According to a study done last year by University of Scranton's Psychology Department, nearly half of all Americans made resolutions at the New Year. In 2014, the number one top resolution was to lose weight. Runners-up for most popular resolutions are spending less/saving more, enjoying life more, staying fit and healthy, learning something new, quitting smoking, and finding true love.
I did a super unscientific study of my own this week, asking a bunch of bike loving folks from around the country, asking them what sort of resolutions they made for the coming year. Many admitted they don't subscribe to the hype, but of those who did, 90% mentioned riding bikes more, more often, or better.
And therein lies the secret. To bike or not to bike is never the question. In fact, ride your bike is the answer, most of the time for just about any problem. And if it isn’t the direct solution to a problem, it's often the place where one might discover the answer to the problem. Or better yet, discover there never was any problem to begin with. Perspective, you know.
Cycling can help people achieve just about ANY resolution they have. For example, if we consider the Top 5 Greatest Hits of New Years resolutions, we can see how cycling supports them:
1. Lose Weight
Exercise helps burn calories, when you demand your body use stored fat as fuel. Riding bikes is a great low-impact cardiovascular exercise that also burns fat—if you're doing it right.
PRO TIP: High intensity interval workouts will help you boost your metabolism for maximum gain in a short period of time.
2. Spend Less / Save More
For the true lover of cycling there is no such thing as too many bikes. N+1 is the generally accepted rule where bikes are concerned. The right tool for the job, right? But this can get pretty spendy—with a nice race-ready carbon fiber road bike running close to $10K. Even if you're not endowed with a limitless trust fund or a the annual income of a brain surgeon, having a bike you enjoy will make you want to ride more. Riding burns burritos, not petroleum products. And cycling can provide exercise, entertainment, mental health benefits and social activity all at once, so you address multiple budget line items every time you swing a leg over the saddle.
PRO TIP: Buy a bike you love, don’t skimp, and get a professional bike fit. You’re more likely to ride a bike you like the look and feel of, that fits comfortably for the style of riding you do.
3. Enjoy Life More
Fact: Cyclists tend to smile more, except when confronted with mean, rude, or careless drivers. Whether you get off on the feeling of gliding down the road on a road bike, or flying through the air on your dirt jump bike, or taking in the scenery on a bike tour, cycling involves all the senses. It engages multiple areas of the brain and boosts feel-good endorphin production and absorption.
PRO TIP: Even cold, wet, wintery weather needn’t be a deterrent to riding. With the right gear and apparel you can stay relatively dry and toasty, and almost every inclement weather rider I know says the same thing; it can be tough to brave the elements, but it's always worth the effort. As the saying goes: A bad day on the bike is better than a good day at the office.
4. Quit Smoking
Fact: Smoking sucks. It ruins your tastebuds, which make you eat more to feel full, which in turn makes you fat, which then makes you want to ride more, except it's so hard when you can't breathe. It can go the other way too—killing your tastebuds so then you don't want to eat at all and you become a pasty, ashen, anorexic stick figure. It also makes you smell bad. And trust me—girls don’t want to kiss scrawny stick figures with bad breath. If that's not motivation enough, there’s also the fact that it gives you cancer. Cancer sucks. Biking is like the anti-suck when it comes to creating health.
PRO TIP: Get some nicorettes, drink more water, and ride your bike. Every. Damn. Day.
5. Finding True Love
Fact: Cyclists are sexy. I’m not talking about professional cyclists with their Tyrannosaurus rex arms and Godzilla quads. I'm talking about average Joes and Janes who arrive at their destination with a rosy glow and an upbeat outlook on life, thanks to the aforementioned endorphins and smiling. And of course, there’s the fact that bicycling tends to create beautiful booties.
Pro tip: Group rides are a great way to meet members of the opposite sex who share your passion. Inquire at your local bike shop for organized weekend road rides, or consider joining the Northwest Trail Alliance if you're a mountain biker looking for new riding friends—with or without benefits.
In all sincerity, the real secret to achieving your goals in the coming year is to chunk them down to smaller, manageable steps and keep it simple. And if you’re having trouble identifying goals or clarifying priorities, allow me to make a suggestion for the best, simplest, most fun and healthy New Year’s resolution list ever: