DAYTON, Ohio — Many people resolve to get healthier in the New Year, only to find themselves throwing in the towel a few weeks later. Following are some of the best tips to help make your resolutions stick:
PLANNING IS KEY: Once you’ve defined your goal, you’ll need a clear plan to guide you through. If you’re starting a new exercise program for example, be specific about when and where your workouts will be, what type of activity you are doing, and how frequently. Having set ‘appointments’ dedicated solely to meeting your objectives provides greater structure and consistency, which in turn, helps you to build a habit.
If you are dieting, make a grocery list that adheres to your new way of eating, and take it with you each time. Another tip is to clean out the fridge and cupboards of the foods that you know you tend to overeat; this gives you a truly “fresh” start in the New Year.
IF YOUR BUDGET ALLOWS, invest in new fitness gear that feeds into your resolution. Depending on your goal, this might be a new pair of training shoes or outfit, or it could be equipment such as free weights, exercise video, jump rope, stability ball or pedometer. Treating yourself ahead of, as well as during and after, your goal is reached is a great way to keep resolutions fresh in your mind.
KEEP YOUR GOALS REALISTIC: To ensure that your expectations don’t exceed your capabilities, make resolutions that are within your reach. If you’ve resolved to get into better shape, you could start by learning one new weight training exercise per day for your first week along with taking a brisk walk, and add to this a little at a time as you go.
If weight loss is a priority, set a reasonable timeline related to the amount you want to lose. Instead of starving yourself to try to lose weight quickly, eat sensibly and stay active because you want to be healthier. Take it one day at a time, and take comfort in knowing that slower, steadier weight loss is not only healthier, but more long lasting.
Starvation/deprivation diets usually have a rebound effect, slowing down the metabolism, and creating cravings that lead to binging and gaining the weight back. Dropping an average of two to three pounds per week is realistic and manageable, so as the weight comes off, you’ll find yourself much less stressed in the process.
Personally, I feel that you should never have to eliminate all of your favorite foods in order to slim down. If the majority of your diet is healthy and you are exercising, allowing a small treat now and then can be a part of your overall plan.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN: There is a big difference between wanting to reach a goal for yourself, and feeling as if you must do it to please someone else. Resolutions should not be looked at as punishments, rather, as new healthier habits that you are rewarding yourself with, so whenever possible, avoid allowing others to dictate what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
KEEP A LOG BOOK OF YOUR PROGRESS, and include a list of all of the benefits that come from keeping your resolution. Your list might include how much better you look and feel now that you’re working out, or how much greater your flexibility, endurance and stamina have become. Understanding the control you have to reach your goals and all of the things that can come from it will keep you in a positive frame of mind and moving forward.
Putting thoughts to paper will also give you greater perspective and insight into any stumbling blocks that keep you from pushing ahead, and help you to re-focus on your goals. Common excuses we put in our own way are lack of time, being too old or too tired to exercise, or telling ourselves that exercise is too difficult.
Truth is, you are never too old to begin an exercise program, there is always time in the day to be more active, and exercise is one of the best ways to stave off aches, pains, stress and fatigue.
HAVE FUN! With so many options to choose from, exercise never has to be formal or boring. Try something new, or go with activities you already know you enjoy, or think about re-discovering activities you used to love doing. Common examples are dancing, ice skating, roller skating, swimming laps in an indoor heated pool, or trying a new aerobics or yoga class. If group workouts appeal to you, start a walking or running club or sign up for a local fitness event.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: Your best bet is to have only one (two at the most) resolutions, especially if what you are trying to accomplish has been a major obstacle. Dividing your time and attention in too many directions is a sure-fire way to lose that all-important focus, putting you at greater risk for failure.
DON’T PUT OFF UNTIL TOMORROW what you can do today. We all know how incredibly easy it is to talk ourselves out of exercising, or talk ourselves into cheating on our diet “just this once.” Agree up front to hold yourself accountable for your daily decisions, which means that you not only fully acknowledge your choices, but look at your reasoning to see if it is helping, or sabotaging, your ability to get what you want.
SHARE YOUR RESOLUTIONS with supportive, encouraging people that you trust. Making your goals known to family, friends or people you work with can go a long way toward keeping you on track, as they “check in” to see how its going. Instead of forgetting about your resolutions, you will be reminded of how important they are to you. You will also inspire and motivate others as they witness your progress.
LASTLY, DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION: Even under the best of circumstances, minor setbacks will occur. Instead of letting this get you down, use it as an opportunity to pinpoint and learn from the problem, and then use this to your advantage if you find yourself getting sidetracked again.
Once back on track, stay focused on the positive and all that you have accomplished, and keep moving toward your desired goal.
Marjie Gilliam is a personal trainer and fitness consultant. This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News.