How the Learning Process Can Make or Break Your New Year’s Resolution
The holidays have sadly come and gone. The decorations and ornaments are slowly being packed away and the thoughts of Santa Claus have dispersed. Well, not entirely... The holly jolly plump man may now be your spirit animal after the several days of cookies, booze, and carbs. Unfortunately, New Years is just around the corner and the small voice in the back of your head is screaming for you to take action against your fat cells. The significant problem here is that the time between December 24th and January 1st is a disaster for waistlines. Stress, a ton of food, and little movement is practically a holiday tradition during this timeframe and trying to start a fire under your butt for fitness with a New Year’s resolution is a complicated matter. Let me rephrase, a successful New Year’s resolution is a complicated matter. The majority of the population will create a resolution and then quit within weeks. I’ve been there and I’ve done that and most importantly I’ve managed to successfully complete a New Year’s resolution.
Below, you will read about a widely accepted cognitive learning process and I’ll apply this process to fitness with your resolution. For you educational nerds out there, we will be using good ol’ Bloom’s Taxonomy with one additional first step. Here’s what you need to know to go from jolly old Saint Nick to Saint Ripped:
Don’t Worry About Your Current Weight
That’s right. All of those calories you have been absorbing for the last week will subside. It’s mainly water weight after all. If you were to go from eating holiday foods back to your normal eating habits, your weight will indeed drop down. It won’t be a drastic plummet, but it will go down over the next week. Now of course, this a problem because if you are anything like me, you want to take action immediately. Waiting a week for your water weight to go away is not a fast solution. Here’s a quick “mental” fix to make you feel like you are making an immediate contribution: fast for 24 hours. It’s a quick, simple, and free method to make you feel engaged and on the right track. Do something simple like stop eating at 5 PM and don’t eat again until 5 PM the next day. Only drink water and black coffee. The coffee blunts hunger pain and the water is obviously needed since you are made up of water. While fasting has physical benefits, I really recommend it for the mental benefit. You’ll feel like you have made a significant first step by giving your body a break from the thousands of calories you have had over the last few days. Additionally, you’ll feel that you are starting from a clean slate with this fast. Now we can get to the learning process!
Recall Your Experiences
It’s time to face realization that your physique is the direct result of your efforts. As much as you want to immediately jump into a new gym routine, that’s more like step 6 and we are at step 1. If you want to learn a new skill properly, recalling is a widely accepted first principle. Define the issues that got you to where you are today. Was it something like eating take-out to many times? Forgetting to bring your packed lunch to work? Overindulging on the weekends during football Sunday? Really think about days where you clearly consumed more calories than normal. Also, think about how you felt. Were you alone or with friends/family? Were you celebrating, or upset, or mindlessly eating out of boredom? Your mindset needs to change first to see physical change. Write down all of these feelings and events you can remember to visualize these items from your past.
Now that you have written down the problem areas that brought you to where you are today, it’s time to identify solutions. Ask yourself what could be done to solve the problem? This the most often overlooked step. The majority want to jump right into a strict new diet without thinking of what exactly are the problems and the solutions. I firmly believe this is why our country has a significant weight gain problem after dieting. The average person can lose the weight, but it comes right back on after the diet. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
Take one example from what you wrote down and give it some thought. For instance, you realized that you go out to eat with your coworkers about four times a week. You guessed that the foods you were ordering were “healthy,” but a Google showed that these foods were higher in calories than you thought. This a great example of a real-life situation that could easily pack on the pounds over a period of time. So let’s look at an example on how to fix this!
You could research ahead of time the menus for nearby restaurants and know what you are going to order beforehand. Give yourself enough time to try and find the healthiest option instead of feeling rushed at the moment. Another alternative would be to explain to the server that you would like something customized due to dietary reasons. Another option would be to only order water instead of more liquid calories or drink water before going out, making you feel less hungry. There’re numerous ways to tackle this problem, but this should give you an idea on how to identify solutions. For the time being, brainstorm solutions and think of which ones will work the best. Also, a big part of identifying solutions is to discuss your ideas with others. By verbalizing and explaining your solutions to others, people will be more cognizant of your efforts to make a substantial change. Even hearing your own words will reinforce a positive mental change. It’s a simple trick that really will pay off in the long run.
Apply the Solutions
After identifying comes the application of the solution. You need to experience the utilization of your solutions and gauge how they feel. During this step, you will apply your solutions to actual situations. Now is the appropriate time for action! Put your solutions into place and try out different ideas. Once you have experienced these solutions with real situations, make sure to take it all in. Reflect after each experience. Ask yourself these questions:
Did the solution work?
Did it feel normal?
Was there something else you could have done to make things go more smoothly?
Try out another solution and another to the same problems. Gain as much knowledge as you can from these experiences. You know the saying practice makes perfect? It’s time to practice, practice, practice. With this much practicing, you’ll eventually create your own toolbox of solutions on how to handle issues that arise in all forms of situations.
Analyze Your Findings
Take all that you have learned from your efforts and organize them. Create visuals to help you see your lines of thinking. And I do mean a visual. It’s been proven time and time again that visual design flows are more effective compared to just abstract thoughts. Compare and contrast your findings. Was there a most effective method? Was there one particular solution that people responded more positively towards? Analyze every angle you can from your efforts and highlight what went right and what could be improved on. The point during this step is to break down your ideas into smaller pieces and be able to analyze them at the granular level. There are no wrong answers here as everyone has different issues and different ways to tackle them.
Evaluate your Decisions
Now, it’s time to evaluate your decisions with your solutions. Can you justify your reasoning for what worked? What supports your lines of thinking when it comes to these solutions? Could an argument be made for a different stance that might work better? A simple pros and cons chart can help with your evaluation of each solution. Once again, a visual is key! This is the philosophy stage of learning where you need to think outside of the box. If you are doing this correctly, this step will take a bit of time, but will be well worth it!
Create Your Best Solution
Last but certainly not least, is time to design the best plan that works for you. Use this step to develop the best solution based on all of the prior steps and what you have learned. This is the final step and will give you the very best shot of being able to stick to your resolution. Since you have experienced every step of the way, you will fully understand every angle of your decision and how to stick to your objectives. You can use this type of step by step process for just about anything pertaining to diet and exercising. Let me give you an example from start to finish.
Recall – I can’t maintain a workout routine because of distractions from friends, family, work, and other commitments.
Identify – I could work out early in the morning before anyone else is awake. I could work out late in the evening when the day is done. I could schedule a workout during lunch. I could leave my phone in the locker while I work out.
Apply – I’ll try working out during my lunch break today and working out early tomorrow morning.
Analyze – Working out during my lunch break seemed to work the best for my schedule. I had just the right amount of energy and it was also a great break during the middle of my day.
Evaluate – While working out early in the morning may be better for my schedule, I don’t have the same energy as I would during my lunch break. I also typically would go out to eat with my colleagues during lunch so exercising during this timeframe allows me to avoid take-out food with them.
Create - My plan going forwards will be to work out during my lunch break and I’ll invite my colleagues to join me.
There you go! Try this technique on your own and you’ll be set up for life.