Health & Fitness: It happens every New Year. The gym fills up and aerobic classes overflow with new faces eager to make a change. Thousands of Americans will decide to get fit and lose weight in 2008, and what better time because the New Year is a time for new beginnings.
But by the time February rolls around, most of these New Year's "resolutionaries" will give up and wait to try it again next year. Why does this happen to so many people every year? We're a society that demands instant gratification and results, but deciding to make fitness a part of a New Year's resolution has to be a lifestyle change.
Sorry, but there are no short-term get-fit-quick plans. It is time to take a no non-sense approach to your health and fitness.
Here are some tips to help you fight the urge to give up on this resolution:
First, change your attitude about health and fitness. All too often, people think of exercise as punishment painful, time consuming and obligatory. If this is how you feel, you have already set yourself up for failure. Instead, think of it as a chance to unwind from a stressful day; a little time all to yourself and a way to improve your quality of life in both your professional and personal life.
If you are a beginner, start small. Try walking for 30 minutes four to five times a week. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and park in the back row of the parking lot. The aerobics programs at most health clubs offer a beginners class. If you're looking to up your current fitness level and need more of a challenge, pick a sport or activity that piques your interest. Try cycling or mountain biking, use a rock climbing wall, or train for a five- or 10-kilometer run. Grab a Competitor magazine from Rubio's or Jamba Juice to see what 5 and 10k's are coming up.
Choose an exercise buddy who will hold you accountable and help motivate and encourage you. If your training partner can't make a workout session, you should still train. Remember this is about you and get your workout done. A very wise person once told me, "anything done for 21 days is habit forming and when done for six months, it becomes part of your personality."
Schedule your workouts as you would any other appointment and commit to them. Make it a convenient time like when the kids have left for school or as soon as you get off work. If your job allows you time to work out during the day, take advantage of the time. You will go back to work feeling rejuvenated.
Use the facilities you have around you, like the local health club and its excellent equipment. Most of the local health clubs offer a variety of group fitness classes, including step aerobics, spinning, kickboxing, yoga and Pilates.
Set attainable short term and long term goals for yourself and write them in a journal. Track your progress, workouts and meals in it. This gives you a visual record of your strengths and weaknesses and acts as a guide to show you where you need to work a little harder or make adjustments.
Reward yourself after attaining your goals. Buy a new pair of shoes for sticking to your first week of workouts, get a massage after you've lost your first 5 pounds, buy a new outfit for working up to 25 push-ups and take a vacation for dropping two dress sizes. You deserve this.
If your goal is to lose weight, avoid getting on the scale day after day. Your weight fluctuates as much as eight pounds between morning and night. You may be retaining water or it may be that you have added on lean muscle mass, which weighs more than fat. Do an initial weigh in, circumference measurements, and bodyfat measurement then repeat this every six to eight weeks to check your progress. In between weigh-ins, depend on the mirror and the way your clothes fit to see if you're making positive strides.
Be prepared to work out whenever you have time. Keep a gym bag packed and readily accessible so you don't have to scramble before a workout. Pack your lunch to avoid the trip through the fast food drive through. If you get the munchies halfway though your day, load your office fridge with healthy snacks and water. Be prepared for minor setbacks that can hinder your workout and diet, like sickness or schedule changes. Make adjustments if you can, or simply pick back up where you left off.
Learn healthy eating habits. Eat four small protein packed meals a day. Drink at least a half ounce of water for every pound of bodyweight. Learn about the glycemic index, "not all carbs are created equal." Also, learn about essential fatty acids which help in creating healthy cells and also help with fat burning, antioxidant rich foods that protect healthy cells, vitamins and minerals that help produce fat burning enzymes and control hormonal responses. These help the body to recover from workouts faster and allows you to train harder. Don't skip meals. It can slow your metabolism and hinder weight loss. Knowledge is power you can never know everything about nutrition continue the learning process always.
Now go and do it. You'll love the way exercise makes you feel.
By Chris Keith CPT
Owner San Diego Personal Trainer
JustLuxe.com Contributing Editor