Friday, December 31, 2010

Making Your Resolution Stick

Something strange happens at gyms across America beginning tomorrow:  They get really crowded.  For year-round gym-goers like myself, this yearly phenomenon is a little irksome but mostly just funny, because all the 'resolutioners' disappear by mid-February and we get our treadmills back. While making a resolution to lose weight is certainly an important first step to a healthy, happy life, making that resolution last past a few months is where most people struggle.  And, if you're just going to go back to your old habits in a few months, why bother?  Here are some of my tips for turning your fitness-related New Year's Resolution into a year-round commitment:

Find a type of exercise that you enjoy.  A lot of people assume that getting in shape means taking up running, hitting the weight machines, or going to a personal trainer.  My advice is to start by trying out several different types of exercise, and stick with what you like. Keep in mind that anything you do is going to be uncomfortable if you are out of shape, but you're more likely to keep at something that doesn't feel like torture.  Also, if your goal is to lose weight, think cardio.  Weight training is helpful if you want to tone up, but you probably aren't going to see a lot of movement on the scale.  And, for the love of God, don't waltz into a gym and plunk down hundreds of dollars for personal training sessions!  You are throwing your money away and even if you actually do end up attending all of your sessions (which many people don't), you may not get anything out of them since they are usually based on weight-training.  My advice for gym-goers would be to check out what classes are offered, and try out spinning, a step class, or Zumba.  And, most importantly, don't be intimidated by the gym rats; remember that everyone has to start somewhere!

Give yourself a break. A New Year's Resolution becomes a year-round commitment when you think of it as a lifestyle change, and not a "diet."  To be successful at managing a healthy weight, you have to allow yourself to live normally and enjoy yourself.  When I started losing weight, I gave myself Friday night to Sunday afternoon as go-crazy time.  I let myself have whatever I wanted, but after a few months, I made better decisions on those days because I was listening to my body more.  (My body told me that it craved nourishment more than it craved cheese fries.)  Regardless of the choices I made on my go-crazy days, giving myself that time to splurge was key to making the rest of the week tolerable.  While a disciplined diet is a good thing, like anything good in life, it should be used in moderation.

Make yourself accountable.  While giving yourself breaks is important, it's easy to extend those short breaks into longer breaks, and all of a sudden, more of your week is filled with break time than discipline. In learning how to acheive and maintain a healthy weight, you have to make yourself accountable to your commitment.  Having a bad day at work, or going through a break-up, or experiencing something else that normally would require wine and chocolate is not an excuse to go off the wagon.  Over the years, though I still engage in the occasional wine and chocolate binge session, I have learned how to cope with bad days differently.  For me, I feel so much better after I get some exercise.  The endorphins kick in, and whatever it was that was stressing me out or bringing me down doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Make 2011 your year to get fit!

1 comment:

krzy4nr said...

Great article. That invasion of treadmills actually started today 12/31. I was chuckling as i saw the trainers scurrying around helping the newbies who were sporting their shiny sneaks, the technical fabric shirts et al. You are right, everyone starts somewhere.
Bottomline: Accountability to self will take you to your goals.