posted on May 6, 2019
It can be easy to fall into the fitness all-or-nothing trap. It’s either you go hard every single moment at the gym or it’s not worth going at all. It’s either you track and measure every gram of food that goes into your mouth or you splurge for the 30 count Chik-Fil-A nuggets. Then when your “live healthy” plans are ruined and you’re dunking the 30th nugget, you say to yourself “I’ll start fresh on Monday” and then proceed to eat like crap until then. We have all said it. We have all done it. We have all leaned on the excuse of a specific start date for a new habit or routine. Sometimes it is the age-old classic of “I’ll start Monday” or perhaps “New Year, New Me” or even something specific to you like your birthday.
In the weeks leading up to my 35th trip around the sun, I began to make all of these grand plans about my health & wellness yet I find myself waiting until the actual date of my birthday to do anything about them. Ironically, my birthday this year also happens to fall on a Monday. So it got me thinking: why do we wait until Monday to start something??
What IS it about Mondays exactly? It turns out there is actually some empirical research on why we are drawn to Mondays to begin (or break) a habit. But first a little history lesson: the Babylonians were the first to name the days of the week, stemming from planetary bodies. Sunday was named after the sun and Monday was named after….you guessed it, the moon! The Romans, under the rule of Emperor Constantine, established the seven-day week as we know it, designating Sunday and Monday as the beginning of the week (1). So the idea of Monday being the start of the week is really just a social construct, meaning it’s not truly based on any biological or planetary reasoning. Monday is the beginning because Emperor Constantine said so.
Research tells us that there is something a little special and something a little terrible about Mondays though, and it’s not just that we have to return back to work or school for the week either. Statistically more people will have heart attacks, strokes and other negative health events on a Monday compared to any other day of the week. But more people are likely to quit smoking on a Monday and more doctor appointments are scheduled on Mondays than any other day (2). Also anecdotally, Monday just happens to be our busiest day here at Union Fitness. So, despite Monday being a man-made idea, it seems we involuntarily adhere to its “fresh start” or “day to dread” powers. So what does this research mean for us exactly?
Well it’s simple folks– stop giving Monday so much damn power! It doesn’t even deserve it. Monday is a day that might kill you or a day full of potential but either way, a social construct shouldn’t have so much power over your life. YOU are in control, not Emperor Constantine. He’s dead. Begin your “fresh start” on a Thursday or even go crazy, say f- it and start like RIGHT NOW. The point is, the day of the week doesn’t matter. What matters is our mindset. It can be tempting to put off your fresh start until the moment is right. We think that moment will magically happen on Monday morning. But “right” is subjective and time is often arbitrary so chances are it’ll never be just right. You want to start eating healthier? You don’t have to wait until all 30 chicken nuggets are down the hatch and Monday morning rolls around. You can start at chicken nugget #3 or #17 or #29. Believe it or not, there is a middle ground to your health & wellness habits. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to wait until Monday.