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Expectations vs. reality: Setting smart realistic fitness goals for the year

By Marielle Fatima Tuazon Published Feb 15, 2023 6:07 pm

The early months of the year signal an exciting time to build resolutions in an attempt to become a “better” person.

On your Twitter feed, you might have noticed that it’s a communal experience of January feeling like an entire year itself–the days seem slower, weeks feel like months, posing as a challenge to people who are struggling to do good by their “new year, new me” mantra as they wait around for February, and the month after, and another month after.

Besides breakups, a new year is a time period when losing weight seems to be on everyone’s minds after feasting during the holiday season. Resolutions that may seem familiar to everyone would be going to the gym and trying out a new diet, more often than not for vanity reasons or specific events in the year, rather than a long-term goal of keeping healthy. 

According to a guide in the New York Times, most resolutions fail because they’re not the right ones, in which they listed three main reasons: it’s based on what someone else wants to change about you, vagueness, and the lack of a realistic plan to achieve the resolution.

Another thing about losing weight as a new year’s resolution is that with women, no matter what time of year, there’s a never-ending pressure to stay skinny. Whether it’s hot girl summer, a wedding, or generally tackling lockdown weight gain—it can feel like “fat” is a bad word.

While the body positivity movement has come a long way, there’s no denying that women still sometimes worry about their bodies to the point of body dysmorphia.

Huffington Post in 2021 revealed through a survey done by Better gyms with 2,000 women, that 49% exhibit signs of this disorder by thinking about not being in their best shape yet, experiencing anxiety every time they miss a workout, or exercising while injured or ill, despite it being detrimental to their health. The others have pointed out that they receive comments or abuse online about their bodies, or somehow perpetuate the cycle by commenting negatively on someone’s appearance.

While trying to stay in shape and committing to a regular exercise schedule and healthy diet schedule shouldn’t be a bad thing, the intentions behind them during the new year might not be helpful to women hoping to achieve their fitness goals.

As a woman with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), I’ve also always been frustrated by how hard it is to lose weight and how often it’s used as a dismissive advice to reverse my symptoms, without an actual plan to achieve that goal. Besides the preparation and budget needed to sustain a healthy diet, there is intimidation in partaking in a fitness journey in male-dominated places like the gym—however, it isn’t impossible.

For Honey Ricafrente, her decision to get serious with her fitness goals was because of body dysmorphia in 2021. To combat, her brother encouraged her to go to the gym with him. She said that working on herself was what made the experience great. It led to a year and four months now of consistent training alongside trying to walk around 10k steps every day.

Honey noticed that in the first four weeks of 2023, gym peak hours have been fuller than usual across the four branches of the gym she goes to alternately. To keep up with her goals, she advises girls to always listen to their bodies.

Gym has helped me both physically and mentally. Even if I go through a lot of cheat days, I was still able to maintain my body weight. I was able to love myself more, have discipline and it made me have a good relationship with food,” Honey shared.

A misconception about working out is that the main goal is to be thin, but some girls prioritize muscle building for strength.

KC Reyes has been going to the gym for four years. To her, learning weightlifting was a routine that helped in managing depression. At first, her motivation was so she could join competitions and get stronger, but over the years it has been a constant in her life because she wants to keep fit.

Taking it slow and not relying heavily on the weighing scale as a sign of progress is a useful tip: sometimes, getting heavier could be a sign of muscle gain.

Other than working out, she suggests getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and eating less junk food. KC maintains that going to the gym also helps train our minds. “I think one of the things people should be aware of is that when you go to the gym, you still have to manage your expectations, because people have different body types and our bodies react to things differently—which is perfectly okay. If we really want to have a positive body image, we also have to change the way we see ourselves, but we also have to exert effort in doing what we can to reach our goals.” 

What could be helpful to remember is that new year’s resolutions are not instant and could be something to work on the entire year instead of quitting at the first sign of failure. With over ten months ahead of us in 2023, there is plenty of room and time to do good by new year’s resolution— whether it be something as small as drinking more water everyday to losing 10kg in a specific time period.

Losing weight is a good thing to focus on when done for the right reasons, but so are other aspects in life packaged as a resolution that could be attained through consistency and sustainability. 

Our chronically online era contributes to this desire of improving our looks, which also begs an assessment of just how healthy (or unhealthy) our relationship with social media is and the kind of content we choose to consume.

At the end of the day, resolutions should be done for yourself. Losing momentum in January is a rite of passage to the average human being at this point, but the question is: are you ready to try over and over again?