Bottom Line Up Front: Most people will never reach their ideal physical self. Instead of being unhappy every day, make it your goal to simply stop getting worse. Make it your resolution to maintain your current physical condition. Over time, you will be happier and happier with how you look, feel, and perform if you keep yourself at status quo.
Imagine yourself 10, 20, or even 30 years ago (based on your age). Are you happy with how you look and feel now relative to then? Most Americans would say no. Now imagine yourself 20 years from now. Would you be happy if you looked and felt exactly like you do now then? Most of us would say yes.
The reason you aren’t happy with yourself now relative to the past is likely because of a slow decline. This is usually due to being less active, eating worse (or the same bad foods having more damaging effects), sleeping less, being more stressed, and having many more responsibilities. The decline happens a little bit at a time, one pound here, an inch on the waist there, one less trip to the gym per week.
Make a resolution today to simply stop the decline. Don’t resolve to improve at all this year. Just stop getting worse. While this may not be good for your goal of getting to an ideal image of yourself, it will pay off in the long run. Just not getting worse isn’t that hard actually. It takes into account all the decline from the younger, more ideal you to today. It lets all bygones be bygones; it forgives past indiscretions. You start from scratch, from today, just staying as you are.
Is this the ideal? No. Ideal is you put in the hard work, reprioritize, dedicate yourself, and eliminate the things that got you to this point. It isn’t easy. Because it isn’t easy, though, it is entirely possible it won’t happen.
You all are someone or know someone who makes resolutions every year and, by February, they are forgotten. Just about every American has some health or appearance goal this year. How many will see them to fruition? If you know yourself and you know you aren’t going to follow through on the “lose 10 pounds” resolution, throw it out the window. Be a realist not an idealist.
I have decided for myself, there is a point where I will have to realize making progress isn’t the goal anymore. It is to maintain gains. While running 2 miles in 13 minutes is very good at 26, it is unreal at 46. If you never improved but never declined over 20 years, you would be in the 99th percentile at age 46. Pretty good. I have been able to keep progressing into my late 30s so I am hoping my maintenance age is 45. Wishful thinking perhaps.
If you ARE the kind of person who sticks with your resolutions and is still making progress, be happy because you are in the minority. If you look better today than 10 years ago, revel in that because you are in the minority. Ever been to a high school reunion of 10 or more years? If you are just not fat and/or bald, you are leading the pack. You don’t have to have ripped abs; you just have to NOT have a gut and one too many chins to be complimented on how you look. It is a huge compliment to tell someone they look the same as they did in high school at a 20-year reunion. Most people I know over 30 would be thrilled if they could just get into pants they wore in college.
So for this new year (or from today forward whenever you are reading this), if you aren’t happy with yourself now relative to the past, look to the future. If you can say you’d be happy to simply stop the decline, make that your new goal. If your size 38 waist pants (10 inches more than high school perhaps) still fit you 10 years from now, you will be a hit at your next high school reunion.
How you will stop the decline is up to you. It doesn’t mean carry on doing like you are doing things each day; that will surely keep you on the decline. It is about tightening up your activity, stress, sleep, and nutrition – but not too much!
If this article does not apply to you (the minority), consider discussing this or sharing it with someone to whom it does apply.
QUESTION: Are you accepting failure by staying the same? Or is it being practical?