A new year means another attempt at all those same old resolutions. You know the ones…
- Lose weight.
- Get in shape.
- Eat healthy.
- Stop drinking.
- Stop smoking.
- Get better sleep.
- Start a hobby.
- Reduce stress.
How many years have you made a list like that?
How did that work out for you?
If you’re like most people, you’ve struggled and failed to keep your resolutions. There’s no shame in that. It happens to everyone.
You wake up on January 1st and tell yourself “This is the year I really do it.”
You write down your goals and stick them on the fridge. But by the middle of the month, you’re back to your old routine, and now that note is just a reminder of your failure every time you go to grab a snack.
Don’t beat yourself up over it. New year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep.
It’s not because you’re lazy or weak minded. To understand why resolutions succeed or fail, you need to understand how your mind works when you are trying to break old habits and form new ones.
Once you understand how habits are formed or broken, you’ll see how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a fantastic system for helping you achieve many of your health and lifestyle goals. I have seen BJJ transform lives, my own included, and I want you to enjoy these benefits too.
Let’s talk about how habits are built.
You didn’t gain all your habits overnight. They were formed over a lifetime, and shaped by your daily circumstances — where you live, where you work, who you hang out with. Trying to make big changes just because the calendar rolled over to a new year fails because nothing else in your life has changed.
When you try to change your habits without changing your daily routines or surroundings, the odds are stacked against you. This is where BJJ gives you a chance to break this pattern. By starting a new activity, one that will encourage healthy habits and social interaction, you can.
Here are 5 ways you can make your new year’s resolutions stick by starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:
1. BJJ helps you focus on what you gain, not what you lose.
With most resolutions, there is a tendency to cut something out — stop eating junk food, stop drinking so much, quit smoking — without replacing it with something equally satisfying. You’re left with a hole that needs to be filled. You will fill this vacuum somehow, even if that means returning to your old habits.
BJJ can become your ally by allowing you to see how the changes you’ve made result in tangible improvements. Examples of healthy habits improved by BJJ:
- See yourself not just getting in shape, but learning to truly use your body.
- Quit smoking more easily, because you will notice how much better your cardio is when you stop.
- Eat clean, because you see the benefits of it in your performance on the mats.
- Follow a balanced sleep schedule more easily because it improves your performance.
- Use your time more wisely, rather than wasting it to hang out and eat junk food.
2. Use the motivation of learning BJJ to reinforce new good habits.
New year’s resolutions often fail because they aren’t backed by a real passion for change. What is going to motivate you to stick to the new habit the first time it is challenged?
Once you catch the “BJJ bug,” you’ll find yourself thinking about it every spare minute — in the shower, waiting at red lights, laying down to sleep. Talk to anyone who does BJJ and you’ll quickly discover how endlessly interesting and challenging BJJ is.
To really enjoy BJJ training and improve fastest, you need a sharp mind and healthy body. This naturally means eating well, getting enough sleep, and cutting down on unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking.
When you’re faced with a choice between falling back to an old bad habit or doing the better new one, you can ask yourself:
“Will this help me improve my jiu-jitsu, or will I regret this next time I step on the mats?”
Making the right choice is easier when you see the connection to activities you enjoy. The desire to improve yourself and your BJJ skills can be a big motivator.
3. Make a real commitment and let others know to hold you to it.
When we half-heartedly set a goal or make a resolution, but don’t tell anyone else, we make it too easy for us to quit without feeling an outside pressure to not give up. By signing up at a BJJ school, you are making a real world commitment, and that is important for sticking to a resolution.
Your instructors want to see you training regularly and improving, and we notice when you aren’t showing up. And once you’ve trained for a few weeks and made friends at the school, they will want to see you on the mats, improving too.
4. Join a community that shares your goals for self-improvement.
Whether we like it or not, we all trend toward whatever behavior is normal around us. You can call it peer pressure or conformity, but it’s the natural way we tend to copy what we see around us.
We have known for a long time now that if your friends are overweight, you are likely to become obese too. That is because we tend to share the activities and diets of the people around us. If all your friends want to do is watch TV and eat junk food, that’s what you’ll do too when you hang out.
Through BJJ, your social network of friends will expand to include people who live active, healthy lifestyles. You are all united by your passion for BJJ, and the choices you make will be motivated by what will allow you to be more fit, physically and mentally.
5. Do more than just workout — challenge yourself mentally.
Many students find BJJ because they want to get in shape but the fitness gym is too boring. If you are going to burn calories either way, why run on a boring treadmill when you can learn a skill instead? BJJ provides a workout that teaches self defense skills and builds functional strength.
BJJ takes a lifetime to learn, and you will always be presented with new and interesting challenges. Most people are stuck in the traditional dull routine: wake up, go to work, go home, watch TV, go to sleep, repeat. BJJ lets you break this dead pattern and find a passion.
The key to resolutions is to understand that it is hard to change all of your habits at once, but if you can find a way to change your daily patterns, you have an opportunity to build new habits. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gives you a big opportunity to make this change, and I truly believe you will not regret stepping on the mats for your first class.