DC-area fitness guru on following through with New Year’s resolutions

Laurent Amzallag, D.C.-area personal trainer and founder of Yala Fitness, speaks to WTOP about how to keep those new year's resolutions come January, February and beyond.

With the new year creeping around the corner, resolutions will be top of mind for many. The tale is as old as time: Jan. 1 brings a level of motivation and enthusiasm that melts away with the wintry weather in the subsequent months.

What can you do to thwart that seemingly inevitable trail-off from something you were once so resolute about?

Laurent Amzallag, a personal trainer in the D.C. area and founder of Yala Fitness, joined WTOP’s Anne Kramer on Tuesday to discuss why people so frequently are unable to follow through with resolutions — and what can be done change that narrative.

Anne Kramer: So many people make New Year’s resolutions to live healthier lifestyles, get back to the gym, eat better. Why do we make these New Year’s resolutions? And what, better yet, why is it so hard for us to keep them?

Laurent Amzallag: You’re absolutely right. You know, Jan. 1, you know, it really means the new beginning, right? For a lot of people, it’s the ‘fresh start effect’ that we say. It’s just like when people say, ‘OK, this is when I’m going to make my changes.’ But to me also, it means that, you know, listen, after the holidays, your Jan. 1 people partied more than normal. They ate more than normal. They drank more than normal. Maybe they moved less than usual. More stress. So by Jan. 1, I mean, their bodies are just screaming for a change, right? So I think that’s why Jan. 1 is the official kind of day where people will make their changes. And we all know that, you know, unfortunately, a lot of them will not go past Feb. 1. Why? Well, because a lot of people don’t go with a solid plan, right? If you’re going to build a house, you’re going to have an architect, make a plan for your house. If you’re going to build a business, you got to have a solid business plan. You’ve got to do the same thing with your fitness goals.

Anne Kramer: Laurent, what about some small steps to start us out right out of the gate on next Tuesday, or even maybe tomorrow, to get healthier and stay healthier?

Laurent Amzallag: Right, I always tell people that, you know, it’s great to have a big goal, but just make little small changes. You know, whether it’s drinking one glass of water extra a day, whether it’s maybe adding a stretch at work during the day. Maybe it’s sleeping 10 minutes earlier. You know, these are little changes, then basically what happens is a reset (to) your mindset. But these are small little things that you say to yourself, you know, ‘there’s no way, I’m not going to be able to do this.’ And that is going to be the catalyst to making more and bigger changes, because you’re going to start feeling better. And then you’re going to want to do more and more, right? So I always tell people, you know, like, let’s start with something so small, so crazy, ridiculously easy, that I’m going to be able to do it. And everybody’s different. You know, maybe you could do a, you know, one exercise. You could start your day with one exercise, you could end your day with maybe some breathing techniques, something that will start the whole kind of machine. And once you start feeling better, then automatically you’ll want to make more and more changes.

Anne Kramer: Hey, Laurent, what happens if we make it through the month of January, like you said, with this healthier lifestyle? February comes and we start slacking off again, eating poorly. How do we get back on track again? What do we do to motivate ourselves?

Laurent Amzallag: Well, that’s the thing. Like, yeah, we have to understand that creating a habit could take between 18 and 254 days. It’s not something that happens overnight. It takes, on average, 66 days for a behavior to become automatic, right? So you know, it’s OK if we fail once. It’s OK if we fail twice (or) 10 times. We’re fighting our brains over here because the brain loves routines, and it doesn’t like to create something new. As long as you jump back into it, and you stay consistent, that’s how you’re going to make it happen. But just remember, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes some time. You may feel it once or twice, but as long as you get back into it, you will make that change and make it a routine.

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