In January 2019, POPSUGAR chatted with celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson about resolutions, and his overarching message was simple: Start slow. “Where most people fall off is that they try to do too much right out of the gate,” which typically leads to frustration and giving up, he explained at the time. It’s solid advice, whether your goal is fitness-related or otherwise.
Back then, resolutions seemed a bit more mandatory. Being anti-resolution felt unruly and rebellious, and the yearly pursuit of a goal felt like a test of character . . . one that most of us failed and then felt guilty for doing so. Now, four years and a global pandemic later, we, as a society, have adopted a more holistic view of wellness. It’s shifted how we approach our new year’s resolutions — Peterson included.
“I think I’ve found a way to strike a balance: I’m comfortable, I’m happy, I have a routine, and I just don’t feel like I need a resolution,” he tells POPSUGAR ahead of the new year. “I don’t need to make a promise that I have to disclose with a glass of champagne held high in order to stick to it.”
But that’s speaking as someone who’s been in the fitness industry for more than 28 years, training the likes of Tom Brady, Lindsey Vonn, Rebel Wilson, Sofia Vergara, and the Kardashians, as well as residing as the chief of athletics for F45 Training, a group training studio for functional fitness. Peterson is quick to note that resolutions can work for some people, and that’s great.
“Whatever it takes to get people to make better choices in life, if you need a resolution, do it.”
What we’ve learned in the past few years isn’t that one outlook is better than the other, but that wellness is highly individualized, and it’s time we stop treating it as black and white. If it inspires you and sparks joy, then go for it.
“Whatever it takes to get people to make better choices in life, if you need a resolution, do it,” he says. But keep in mind everything we’ve learned in the past few years, and consider what’s really worth your time and energy.
“I would say, if you’re going to do it, at least try to be creative and forward-thinking,” he says — like a resolution to spend more time with family or to count to five before responding to someone in anger. “Something like that would be, to me, far better than, ‘I’m going to give up refined sugar for 2023.’ But that’s maybe where I am in my life. I look at it and go, ‘How can I add to the collective versus something that just is a new way of disciplining myself?'”
If nutrition or fitness is really where you hope to improve your life, you can absolutely create an intention around those practices. Just focus on workouts, foods, and routines that feel good. Do that, and finding the coveted feeling of balance that Peterson spoke of could actually be easier than you expect.
“You start to make ‘good’ choices on a more regular basis, and you realize that, when you do make the ‘bad’ ones, the residual effect, the collateral damage, is not as long-lasting or egregious as you may have thought it was,” he says. If you maintain a “good rhythm” of those healthy habits, he says, there’s plenty of room for whatever else you want to enjoy.
Peterson also adds that it’s important not to minimize your accomplishments. “Give yourself credit for what you do, and don’t beat yourself up about what you didn’t do,” he adds. “Over time, that takes a toll.”
And if you want a more aggressive goal? Commit to getting outside of your comfort zone with your movement, whether that means pushing to your sprinting limit on the treadmill, picking up a heavier weight, or trying a new active hobby that intimidates you. There’s a lot worth keeping from our collective comfort era — such as the worthiness of gentle exercise and the value of doing what you enjoy — but if you stay in that zone for too long, it’ll be tough to grow.
Whatever change you make, “you’re forcing your body to adapt,” Peterson says. At the very least, it’ll feel rewarding, and at the best, you just might wow yourself.
—Additional reporting by Tamara Pridgett
Image Source: F45 Training