We begin each New Year with lofty goals. Resolutions, if you will.
“This will be the year when I finally [fill in the blank].”
After Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we’re ready to begin anew.
And then we receive that box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Fat Tuesday and the mouth-watering paczki roll our way along with the good times. Even the Lenten season is filled with temptation as stores stock their shelves in anticipation of Easter baskets overflowing with traditional sugary treats. It’s not long before our diets have been compromised and the overcrowded gyms and dreary weather have cramped our plans to stay fit.
Don’t despair. All hope is not lost. Now that we’re a couple months in to a new year, it’s time to reevaluate those New Year’s resolutions. No, not to scrap them. But to look at them with eyes less influenced by an evening of champagne and teary versions of “Auld Lang Syne.” And be realistic about those goals and how to go about achieving them. Starting now.
If you’re like most, some your resolutions revolve around fitness and health. When dealing with weight loss and fitness, goals need to be realistic. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Remember, that weight gain didn’t all come on at once. Those extra pounds took years to creep up on you. It was a gradual gain. (For many, it was those holidays that did it. Putting on a pound or two each holiday season adds up. Only ten years out of college and a person can find himself ten to twenty pounds over his college weight.) Allow your weight loss to be gradual too. Avoid dieting. Dieting, by definition, is short term. It leads to the “yo-yo effect” of taking weight off and then putting more weight back on. This added weight gain is often due to teaching the body bad habits and, often, decreasing metabolism.
- Instead of dieting, think of healthy eating as a lifestyle change, a permanent change. Is it realistic to eliminate one food from your diet permanently? Probably not. But it is realistic to limit the amounts of sugary foods, fatty foods, alcohol and poor food choices.
- Take a hard look at portion sizes. Restaurant servings are not a good gauge. In fact, in most cases, assume your restaurant portion is at least two servings. Plan to pack up half of your meal before you even take your first bite. At home, use a scale to measure portion sizes until you become familiar enough with them again to eyeball them.
- Baby steps. Tackle one lifestyle change at a time. Once that change has become habitual, then tackle another. Taking on too much at once is a sure fire way to set yourself up for failure.
As a fitness professional, I’d like to say exercise is the answer. Being active is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, but exercise is only a part of the weight-loss equation. In fact, it’s only 10% of the equation. The other 90% comes from diet. That said, once movement and exercise becomes a priority, you’ll start viewing food differently. You’ll recognize how eating the right foods fuels your body to perform better.
So what will it take to get you moving?
- If you’re motivated by a training partner, consider joining a class at Higher Gear’s boutique CompuTrainer Studio this winter. Then continue to ride with us all summer on our group rides.
- This is a good time of year to add strength training to your routine. Strength training is important for endurance athletes to address any weaknesses or imbalances.
- Most people find it easier to commit to a weekly exercise routine when they’ve set a goal for themselves. Maybe this will be the year you do your first triathlon? Or consider signing up for an event, like a charity ride. (Visit our 2014 Chicagoland Cycling Calendar for ideas.)
Don’t despair. It’s not too late to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions. In fact, there’s no better time to start than now. Now GO!
As with all physical exercise, a degree of common sense is required. It’s always recommended to talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Because proper form is important as is understanding how to best implement strength training, those with training in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology should be consulted.
Years spent working in health clubs, our resident fitness guru, Joy Sherrick, is familiar with the February slump – when the cardio machines that were working overtime in January start to become available again. She shares with us the wisdom of her years of experience working with people to meet their fitness goals.