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Why Your New Year’s Resolution to Go to the Gym Will Fail

Health + Wellness
Why Your New Year’s Resolution to Go to the Gym Will Fail

By William Clark

Come January, 40 percent of Americans will make New Years resolutions, and nearly half of them will aim to lose weight or get in shape.


But 80 percent of New Year's resolutions fail by February, and gyms will experience a decrease in traffic after the first and second months of the year as those who made New Year's resolutions to get in shape lose steam.

As a lecturer at Binghamton and former Olympic weightlifter, world champion powerlifter and strength coach, much of my life has been spent in training halls and gyms around the country. People often ask me, "How do I stay motivated to work out?"

New Year's Resolutions

Nearly half of all respondents in a poll about 2018 New Year's resolutions wanted to lose weight or get in shape. Statistica / The Conversation / CC-BY-ND

Motivation and Short-Term Objectives

Years back, when I was at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of the sports psychologists told me that motivation is a lie.

It took me years of experience and research to figure out why, but I believe she was right.

Personally, I have no issues getting up on a cold and dark morning to train when a competition is drawing near. But when there is no immediate objective or goal in site, getting up that early is much harder.

Motivation is driven by emotion and that can be positive, as long as it is used for a short-term objective. For some, a New Year's resolution can serve as a motivator. But since motivation is based on emotion, it can't last long.

Think of it this way: No one can laugh or cry indefinitely, and that is exactly how we know that motivation will fail.

Emotion is a chemical release yielding a physiological response. If someone attempting to get in shape is reliant upon this reaction to propel them towards working out, they are almost sure to burn out, just like with a resolution.

When people buy gym memberships, they have the best of intentions in mind, but the commitments are made in a charged emotional state. Motivation helps with short-term objectives, but is virtually useless for objectives that require a greater length of time to accomplish.

In other words, don't totally discount the value of motivation, but don't count on it to last long either because it won't.

Discipline Yields Results

If motivation won't help you reach your goals, what will?

The answer is discipline. Discipline, as I define it, is the ability to do what is necessary for success when it is hardest to do so. Another way to think of it is having the ability, not necessarily the desire, to do what you need to when you least want to.

Failure to get up when the alarm rings, the inability to walk away from a late night of partying before game day or eating a doughnut when you have committed to no processed sugar are all failures of discipline - not motivation.

The keys to discipline are practice and consistency. Discipline means repetitive – and sometimes boring – action. There are no shortcuts. You can thank motivation for the first three weeks or so of your successful gym attendance, but after that you need to credit discipline.

There is another clear line defining the difference between motivation and discipline. Motivation in and of itself typically fails to build other qualities necessary for advancement, but discipline does. Discipline develops confidence and patience.

Discipline builds consistency and consistency yields habits. It is those habits that, in the end, will ultimately define success.

William Clark is the adjunct lecturer of health and wellness studies at New York's Binghamton University and State University.

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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