Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Typically this is the time of the year that many people realize that they've eaten way too much during the holidays and choose to make a resolution to lose the weight, hopefully by bathing suit season. I can't help but dismiss most people's resolutions since many people give up rather quickly. There are a couple reasons for this, and hopefully you can learn from other's (and my own) mistakes.

1. Your goal is too lofty. As much as we'd all love to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks, it's not possible. If you do lose that much weight that fast, then it's not in a healthy way and more than likely you'll gain it all back and then some once you've come off the crash diet you embarked on or quit taking the diet pills. Plus if you lose weight too quickly you'll end up with a lot of excess skin (think of the folks who have had gastric bypass). Who wants that? Give your body time to get used to being healthy again.

2. You aren't willing to put in the work necessary to meet your goal. To lose weight in a healthy way, you should not lose more than 1-2 pounds a week (doesn't sound hard until you try it). This means either cutting out or burning 3500-7000 calories a week. Preferably it is better to combine a healthier diet plus a good exercise routine. Unfortunately the weight won't come off on it's own. You have to be willing to break a sweat 3-4 times a week and make a commitment to yourself to eat better. (Working out like a fiend and eating all the junk you get your hands on isn't only sabatoging your efforts, you'll quickly get tired of working out so much and you're still stuck with bad eating habits. Trust me - I've done this.)

How can you avoid the pitfalls we've all had when trying to keep our resolutions? Here are a couple suggestions from me:

1. Make your goal realistic. Perhaps instead of focusing so much on how much you want to lose you can focus on a fitness goal. For example - try to run for a whole mile without stopping. Don't worry about how fast you're running. Just run. Build up to that level of endurance by gradually increasing your running time. Start at 2 minutes and go from there. The Everything Running Book by Art Liberman, Stephen Pribut, and Carlo De Vito gives an excellent mileage build up chart for beginners. You'll burn calories while you're doing this while keeping the exercise interesting.

2. Tell people about your goal. The more people that know about your goal and how you're doing, the more likely you are to stick with it. Just don't fall into the trap of doing all of this work for everyone but yourself. And if it seems like you have a friend or friends who are unwittingly sabotaging your goals by encouraging you to eat junk or skip the workouts, then you know that you need limited interaction with those people. Surrounding yourself with people with similar goals makes meeting your goals that much easier.

3. Do your research. If you think a gym membership will help you, then by all means buy a membership. Just know what you're getting into. Most people quit going to the gym after a few months. Since January is the busiest time for gyms, be prepared for too many people and too few of them with manners. If running outside is more your style, read up on what it takes to make that successful (I heartily suggest the right gear, which varies from region to region).

In the end, don't make getting fit and healthy a chore. This should be a resolution for a healthier and happier you.

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