2019 resolutions for an epic surf year ahead!

It’s the time of year. Barely back from eating too much, drinking too much, and regretting all the decisions that have transpired into my constant hangover, post-holiday muffin top, and my huffing and puffing upon climbing a flight of stairs.  As a result, I am not looking forward to getting back on my surfboard. I know I will paddle at half my normal speed and may even have to maneuver my knees around my Christmas belly to pop up to my feet. Yuck.

But there’s hope since the new year is only a few days old.

I am the world’s biggest sucker for new year’s resolutions.  There is a great sense of possibility that comes with imagining and planning for a better version of myself. It’s cliché and embarrassing, but most years, my list starts with:

“New Year’s Resolution #1: Get Back Into Shape.”

Like most women (and men, though they may not admit it), I am not immune to body insecurities.  And in some ways, surfing exacerbates these insecurities. I guess that’s to be expected when I am often in a swimsuit or at the very least in a wet rash guard / T-shirt that clings to my body—in whatever shape it may be.

Workout at the beach

On the other hand, surfing has reshaped my relationship with my body in a very real and refreshing way.  I will never be a pro surfer, but I take my improvement very seriously.

In that sense, I think of myself as an athlete.  Which, I believe, is a much healthier way to approach my body than just wanting to look a certain way or be a certain weight.  I don’t want to be skinny, I want to have strength and endurance. I’ve given up on having svelte, feminine curves, but that’s okay, because I need my arm, shoulder, back, and lateral muscles to paddle.  I keep track of my weight by how high or low in the water I am when I sit on my surfboard.

The more in shape I am, the faster I paddle, the better I respond to the wave, the more dynamic my movements, and the longer I can surf before needing a break.  As such, being healthy and taking care of my body has become a welcome and almost accidental side effect of my drive to become a better surfer.

Even surf-obsessed me, however, needs extra motivation sometimes.  Sheer laziness, a crazy work schedule, weeks of crappy swell/conditions, or the aforementioned dread of getting back on the surfboard after getting pudgy over the Christmas holidays can keep me from surfing as much as I should.

Surfing Mentawais
Photo: Santa Lusia Boat Mentawais

Just like a runner, weight lifter, or boxer, an upcoming event is the best way to get back on track.  In my case, I have surf trips to the Mentawais and to Fiji planned for the first half of 2019. And I am SO STOKED about those trips!  But I will enjoy them less if I am out of shape or my surfing isn’t up to the level that the waves demand.

So, a big 2019 new year’s resolution is getting to where I will fully appreciate and get my money’s worth out of these upcoming bucket-list trips.  Being in better shape means I am able to surf longer and in all sorts of conditions, which translates to a higher wave count.

If I only surf 30 waves during a trip that costs me $3000… that’s $100 per wave!

But if I surf 300 waves, that’s a more reasonable cost per wave, AND I have more fun and opportunities to work on different maneuvers and push myself… and did I mention have more fun?

So, the main goal is: get into optimal shape to make the most of my upcoming surf trips.  How? The most obvious first step is to surf as much as possible before the trip.  Nothing compares to surfing when it comes to getting in shape for surfing.

Surfing in the Ments
Photo: Giulia Manfrini, Mentawais

I am so lucky to live in a place where I can surf 360 days out of the year.  Surfing more days has the ancillary effect of reducing my drinking. It’s just too hard, painful, and damn near impossible to wake up for dawn patrol when you’re hungover!

Not everybody is lucky enough to live 3 minutes from the beach, however.  Plus, oversurfing without cross training can create a higher risk of injury – which is the last thing you want on the trip of a lifetime!

Scheduling yoga, pilates, or foam-rolling a couple times a week really helps reduce the risk of injury.

I do Muay Thai to improve core strength, explosiveness, speed, balance, and to quicken my reactions.  And, because sometimes there’s no swell or I surf cushy reef breaks with wide channels and don’t break a sweat, I throw in some CrossFit-type HIIT workouts a couple times a week.

Hidden Bay Resort Mentawais
Get in shape and push your surfing to the next level at Hidden Bay Resort’s High Performance Center (Mentawais)

When it comes to what I put into my body, knowing I’m going to be in glistening azure waters over a perfectly shaped reef in a few months is a wonderful motivator when I don’t feel like working out or am lusting over that pizza and bottle of wine.  Plus, it’s really sad to be on a postcard-perfect beach and too embarrassed to wear a bikini!

All this surf trip preparation has the sneaky, tangential effect of getting my body back into shape after the abuse I’ve put it through this holiday season.  Yet one more of the many, many reasons surfing has immeasurably improved my life.

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Rotational Power . Watch some high level surfing, and you’ll torso rotation around an often stable femur. It’s some basic anatomy talk for essentially wanting to produce some force through the core when rotating, and doing it around a strong leg. . Think of, and feel a frontside turn. That movement holds that rotation throughout the full wrap around man-carve. . This drill is in this months OSP (ocean sports performance) membership site, and its working to develop stability and control in the lower body, while producing explosive force through the “core”. . It’s an advanced movement and you should already have some decent single leg strength (a solid single leg deadlift), and adequate core control. There’s a few pre-requisite drills to master prior to this one. Reach out if you need insight, or peek into OSP. . If you want to see some full programs and how this is incorporated into training, click the link in my bio and have a peep at OSP. . Give this drill a feel and let me know what you think. If you’re working on some other power work for the “core”, let me hear your ideas. Sharing is caring. Thanks @livecrepic for the gear! #surftraining #surfathlete #surfcoach #surfcoaching #surffitness #surfsc #surfstrengthcoach #surfstrengthandconditioning #prosurfer #prosurfing #surflife #surfinglife

A post shared by Cris Mills -Surf Athlete Coach (@surfstrengthcoach) on

If your belly is, like mine, straining against the top of your jeans after too much Christmas ham and mulled wine, I highly recommend planning a once-in-a-lifetime surf trip.  Think about lowering your cost per wave, being the subject of beautiful surf pictures you are proud of, and coming back home with a sharper top turn and quadrupled barrel count.

Isn’t that so much more inspiring than writing: “New Year’s Resolution #5: Hit the Gym 4x per Week” or “New Year’s Resolution #2: Stop Being a Fat Loser”??

Happy New Year, and may the wave gods bless you in 2019!