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What Are You Waiting For? The Answer is Monday.

Nevermind New’s Year’s Day. If you’re thinking about starting a diet or a fitness program or quitting smoking, you only need to wait for Monday.

Forget about New's Year's Day. If you're thinking about starting a diet or a fitness program or quitting smoking, you only need to wait for .... Monday.

Forget about New’s Year’s Day. If you’re thinking about starting a diet or a fitness program or quitting smoking, you only need to wait for …. Monday.

Mondays are actually the only day during the week that we are able to tap into the fresh start effect, where we can wake up and feel like a new person, ready to take on a change in habits, according to a recent report.

“On certain days, which are called temporal landmarks, you have a different view of yourself,” said Jason Riis, professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the report. “You become more forward looking.”

People think to themselves, “I’m going to be a new person and … I’m no longer going to be a part of the path of failure,” said Hengchen Dai, also a co-author of the paper and doctoral student at Penn. “It’s changing the perception of the self.”

In order to determine these temporal landmarks, the researchers at Wharton conducted three experiments: first, they scoured Google analytics to see when and how frequently people searched for diet and exercise; secondly, they tracked the most popular days at the Penn State gym; finally, they examined a website where people made contracts with themselves to change a behavior — they lost money when they failed.

The Wharton researchers didn’t study if people achieved their goals, but psychologist John Norcross of the University of Scranton says people who make New Year’s resolutions or quit smoking during events like the Great American Smokeout are actually more successful than expected.

According to Wharton researchers, the following are the most popular days for starting a diet, beginning a new workout program, or even switching your 401K into an IRA.

Mondays

“Monday is going to be a fresh start,” Dai said.

Ann Kearney-Cooke agrees with the notion that Mondays are motivating to most people.

“I think it gives an energy surge to people,” said Kearney-Cooke, a psychologist at the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute.

Mondays have drawbacks, though. People run the risk of using up all their energy and willpower early on, which means they tend to burn out later in the week. If you go off track by Thursday, don’t wait until Monday for a new start, Kearney-Cooke advises.

“The key to change is at the very next meal or the following morning, starting over,” says Kearney-Cooke.

The researchers found no evidence of a “bad day” to start a new behavior, but they say not to start something new when you are feeling low energy and/or willpower.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

Researcher Dai noticed that she tended to make promises on her birthday and anniversary and wondered if others did, too.

“Every year I make birthday resolutions, I make resolutions on my anniversary. For me, I feel like those are the landmarks that I would like to seize upon,” she said.

It turns out that she’s not alone.

The researchers found many people hit the gym the day after their birthday, with the exception of the 21st birthday (presumably, too many people are nursing hangovers to consider a workout after that birthday).

“Birthdays are meaningful events that can spur changes in behavior looking forward,” Riis said.

Birthdays also can serve as a natural time to revisit an earlier goal.

“I think humans like to be reminded of an opportunity, and to go for it,’” says John Norcross, a distinguished professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. “We ask people to start on a day that signifies a new beginning or a meaningfully important date.”

First day of the month

Gym attendance always goes up during the beginning of the month, according to Google search data. So don’t be surprised if classes are more crowded or you have to wait for an  exercise machine.

New season or new semester

Researchers found that lots of people make changes at the beginning of the seasons. Spring is a time to clear clutter from our lives, or a reminder that bathing suit season is coming. Fall brings the start of a new school year.

Wharton researchers also found that one of the times students are more likely to work out is at the start of the semester,

New Year’s Day

It’s certainly a cliché, but people have made New Year’s resolutions since ancient Roman times.

“It is the get out of jail free card; here is the socially acceptable time to start anew,” said Norcross.

He studied New Year’s resolutions and found that about 40 percent of people stick to their resolutions.

“Success rates are better than most people imagine,” Norcross says.

He found that while a new year gives people an opportunity to think about the future and their future selves, it can also help them reflect on the past and their negative behaviors. People need both perspectives to change, he believes.

“Using both sources tends to be associated with success—not just being disgusted, but looking forward and saying ‘this is my new life.’”

People are more likely to change around new years because there is more social support and more information available, he added.

But you don’t have to wait for New Year’s. People modify habits on many holidays, including Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Lent, Yom Kippur, or any other holiday that holds meaning for them.

So what are you waiting for?  The iTrain team is ready to hold your hand every step of the way to your new body and new life!  Just make the call: (562) 240-5393

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Aman Saxena

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22 Jan, 2017

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