Why You Shouldn't Start A Diet In January

Put down the detox smoothie and step away from the gym membership line. Before jumping on the treadmill, keep these facts in mind.

When January rolls around, we finally awaken from our universal food comas, realize our jeans feel significantly tighter, and frantically search for the latest method to shed pounds – fast.

Well, put down the detox smoothie and step away from the gym membership line. You might think to start the new year with a fresh diet and exercise routine, but there’s a reason only 8% of fitness resolutions get kept each year.

Before jumping on the treadmill, keep these facts in mind.

The Holiday Season Ruined You


Do you really want to go from all this to a measly salad?! Photo: @al_vire / Instagram

The bulk of why the holidays are so dangerous for your waistline lies in everyone’s sudden desire to look the other way when someone reaches for thirds. We become each other’s enablers, letting loose on all the delicious fodder the season has to offer.

You just spent the past month or so vacuuming up all the carbs, eggnog, and pie you could physically stomach. Do you really think that you’ll suddenly just snap into a strict diet and grueling fitness routine?

The Turkey’s Cold, But You Don’t Have To Go Cold Turkey


Swap out the high-caloric goodies with healthier treats. Photo: @sweetrevengebeirut / Instagram

Swearing off cookies because you couldn’t keep your hands off your aunt’s addictive gingerbread men is like never buying shoes again because you went a little shop-happy at the mall.

Do both situations indicate the need for a lifestyle change? Possibly, but immediately cutting yourself off from certain foods and mounting a vendetta against all things highly caloric won’t get you anywhere in the long term. In fact, it may do more harm than good.

Regardless, a month of vegetative eating, cuddling, and Netflix won’t make that first pass at the treadmill a walk in the park. If you’re expecting to drop those pounds just as quickly as you put them on, you’ll probably choose workouts that are too intense, leaving you exhausted and prone to injury.

The frenzy of gift shopping, travel, and reunions with loved ones is a tiring experience on its own; adding 30 burpees a day for six days a week is hardly the way to unwind. You’ll hate the gym long before your endurance improves.

Not only will these quick changes shock your system, but they can also lower your immune system, making you vulnerable to viruses during peak flu season.

What You Should Do In January


Take account of where you’re at and encourage yourself to move ahead with realistic enthusiasm. Photo: @joeyburda / Instagram

Figure out how you arrived at this point where you’re unsatisfied with your appearance or your health. For some, you may only have six weeks of binge eating to undo, but for others, the signs may have been clear for quite some time. Regardless, start slow.

Look at which areas of your personal food pyramid seem too large, and figure out how to scale back gradually by testing out recipes and moderating portions. As the month goes on, you should be able to set realistic goals for the rest of the year that won’t leave you frustrated with your progress.

You should also find a workout that works for your body, not against it. If your mind races too much for yoga or your knees want to secede from your body after a spin class, don’t sign up for a year’s worth of classes. Snag a 1-7 day pass from your local gym, and figure out where you feel comfortable.

Don’t worry about all those seemingly dedicated, sweaty people around you; half of them will be gone when you return in February. While approximately 12% of new memberships occur in January, most gyms expect only around 18% of members to go regularly.

Get your friends in on your plan too. Even though you’ll all have different goals, you need a support group to encourage you when you feel like it’s too cold to go to hot yoga. Your friends loved the old you just fine.

You’re the one who needs to get into the right mindset if you want to change your life. No diet scam or peppy gym employee can give that to you.