January is a dark time in everyone's life, every year. Burdened with the cold of winter, long nights, and a complete lack of anything to do, you look forward into the year with sheer optimism. Namely, you think of how awesome life will be come summer.
Add in the ever-present need to create a New Year's Resolution and you find yourself in a self-betterment mindset. Not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the past year, burdened with the extra pudge of the holidays, and hoping to make the upcoming summer the best one in years, you say to yourself:
"Hey, you in the mirror. It may be winter right now and you have some extra flab, but come May, you're going to look fit as f*ck, because as of right now, you are on a diet, my friend."
Flash forward five months and you're looking at yourself in the mirror again, reminded of the promise you made to yourself in the dark heart of winter. Poking and prodding at your still-soft body, you slowly realize that, not only did you not lose weight like you promised, you actually gained weight.
This recently-passed-around meme sums it up the rather confidence-shattering experience perfectly:
Photo cred - SIZZLE
So what's wrong with you? Not much, actually, because we all do the exact same thing almost every year. Even me.
Back in January, I totally made the exact same promise to myself, envisioning washboard abs by the time the summer sun shone bright enough that I could rock no shirt at the park.
And being somewhat thin already (at least by hetero standards, don't get me started on the gay equivalent of "thin") I figured the goal was attainable. I had just started hitting the gym again and really only needed to lose a few pounds of belly-chub.
I even stopped drinking for three months, hoping the calories I would save would only bolster the fitness gains and fat-loss I would experience from eating well and going to the gym 4-5 times a week.
My plan and strategy seemed flawless. I could already envision what scantily clad outfits I would be rocking by summer.
Then May came, and I found myself in the exact same place I was in January. Yes, I've gained some muscles mass and toned up a bit, but did I lose any actual fat? No sir, all of my body's pudgy places are still intact.
What happened? Mothertrucking life happened, that's what.
Because no matter how hard you try to eat well and consciously choose only "healthy" food options, the universe (read: you) will find some way to throw a wrench in that plan.
First, there's winter, the season where you do as little walking as possible because it's too damn cold to be outside. While you may be getting in some gym-time cardio, being cooped up in your house and at work the rest of the day (as you hide from the cold) doesn't really even out.
Then you have the all of the year-round ways your life gets in the way of losing any weight.
You might want to eat a salad, but your boy/girlfriend/buddy wants Romados. Not wanting to seem like a health-conscious stick in the mud, you go for the greasy chicken accompanied by potatoes, telling yourself you'll eat healthy the next day. And you do for breakfast, at least. Then your coworker wants to grab lunch, or your roommate really wants pizza, and the cycle repeats.
Going to the gym doesn't really help, either. Obviously getting in some weight training or cardio is a good thing, but by simply stepping into the locker room to change into your workout clothes you instantly gain "the gym excuse."
Not familiar with the concept? I'm pretty sure you are, actually, as it's the all-too-easy-to-use scapegoat whenever you want to make a poor diet choice.
The line of thinking goes like this: "I did thirty minutes on the elliptical today, I can totally have some pie and ice cream."
Except that's not really how weight loss works. If you're going to the gym and actually creating a calorie deficit, you can't fill in the difference with some indulgent treat. You may tell yourself you deserve it, and you probably do, but it doesn't help you lose weight. Tie in the fact that the calories you just took in may exceed how many you burned, and you got yourself in a weight-gain scenario.
The same goes for when you tell yourself binging on Netflix for six hours it totally fine since you went to the gym today.
Then there is the "oh, it won't make a difference in the long run" mentality, one I (and I'm sure many others) use on the daily. Because, really, what can one slice of pizza really do? Not much, but compound that decision over the course of five months, and you have a whack load of empty calories you didn't really need.
I'm totally not chastising anyone here, because trust me when I say I am right there with all of you in making these mistakes.
If I do a bunch of weight training at the gym, I feel entirely justified in gorging on carbs later that night. When my boyfriend plans to eat an indulgent meal that will do nothing to his naturally thin body, I instantly agree because I (not so) secretly want an excuse to do the same. And anytime afterwards (or post any other poor dietary decision) I just tell myself not to worry about it and try harder the next day.
Then I do, and eat healthy for a few days straight. Somehow my brain tricks itself into thinking that's what I've been doing all week. Except it isn't, making the May-revelation that zero weight has been lost all the more shocking.
So yeah, we kind of did this to ourselves, people, we just can't get too down on ourselves. Sure, you may have laughed in that "oh God this is my life and it's so sad" kind of way when you read the meme above, but at least you laughed. And realizing how you didn't achieve a goal at least makes it plain that you need to try again.
Like I said, though, actually losing weight in the winter is incredibly hard and the task is far easier to accomplish in the summer months. Granted, drinking in the park and laying about in the sun all day isn't conducive for weight loss (and you did want to already have your beach bod) but that's all on you. If you are committed to leading a healthier lifestyle, the summer is the best time to do it.
Besides, if you're truly comfortable in your body then there's no real point in getting down on yourself. Sure, everyone wants to lose a few pounds, but if you aren't at risk of any health concerns, then just do what you do every May. Say "fuck it," rock how you look, and try again next year.