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It’s that time of year again; the time of year we all resolve to
improve ourselves in one way or another. Wether you’re in “damage
control” mode in the aftermath of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner
(and the parties, the candy, the pies, the egg nog…), or if you’re
just using the new year as a starting point to a healthier, happier
you, you need to play it smart, or else you’ll be right back where you
started come March or April.
I’m a fitness coordinator and instructor for a living. I also have
put in many years of personal training and nutrition coaching. Every
January, without fail, group fitness classes and personal training
client intake explode. Gym memberships skyrocket, and fitness
apparel, gear and equipment sales boom. But, also, without fail, by
March or April, class numbers have settled back into their “usual”
sizes, and most personal training clients have thrown in the towel.
So, where are these good intentions going sour? What is the secret to
keeping that New Year’s Resolution going all year long? It’s a simple
concept, but it takes work! The answer is this: set short-term,
obtainable goals. For example: what are you more likely to maintain;
Resolution A: “I’m going to work out 6 days a week for an hour in 2013.” or
Resolution B: “I’m going to work out 3 days a week for 30 minutes.”?
Resolution A: “I’m going to lose 40 pounds in 2013.” or
Resolution B: “I’m going lose 5 pounds.”
And what about:
Resolution A: “I’m going to cut out all sweets, cut back on carbs, and
only eat greens and lean meats in 2013.” or
Resolution B: “I’m going to clean up my eating, and eat a balanced
diet (add more fruits & vegetables, drink more water, etc.), starting
off by not going out to eat so much!”
You can see the pattern. Resolution B in all three scenarios is much
easier to achieve. And, what happens when you achieve a goal? You
feel accomplished and motivated, and you know you can achieve goals of
this size, so therefore you can set more small goals that will add up
to big results throughout the year. Those 3 days a week you’re
working out will make it easier to build up to working out longer and
more often, and they will help you on your way to living an active
lifestyle. Even if you have days where you feel like you’ve got
NOTHING in the way of your workout, just try telling yourself “I’m
just going to walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes.” You’ll be
surprised to find that, more often than not, after those 5 minutes,
you’ll be feeling better and ready to tackle 25 more minutes of
moving. If not, then hey, 5 minutes is still better than zero!
Losing those 5 pounds will give you the confidence you need to work
towards a slimmer you (baby steps!). Furthermore, learning to eat in
a manner that is both nutritious AND enjoyable is key to maintaining a
healthy lifestyle. “Diets” never work long term. You can’t sustain a
“no sweets, no carbs, no whatever it may be” diet indefinitely, which
means you will inevitably gain most or all of that weight back.
Eating out once in a while, or having a sweet treat here and there
will not obliterate all of your goals. Finding a balance, and
allowing yourself to still have your “fixes” (albeit less frequently,
in smaller amounts, or healthier varieties) will keep you happy and
sane! That’s a “diet” you can live with!
Some examples of small changes that will make a big difference:
1. Swap soda for diet soda (or water).
2. Use splenda or truvia instead of sugar.
3. Switch to low fat/nonfat varieties of dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese).
4. Opt for dark chocolate instead of regular.
5. Find fiber fortified healthy swaps of your favorite foods (there
are fiber fortified pastas, cereals, and snack cakes out there,
people!). Psst…more fiber means less calories.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. So here’s to you and
your short-term goals in 2013.
Until next time, age well and live long.