January 1, 2006

Resolutions 101

BY David Bohn ("Fitness")

Well 2005 has come and gone and it’s time to start the program all over again. While technically nothing much significant has changed from Saturday to Sunday, the change mentally can be enough to help you kick start a new fitness program. Now’s the time to overhaul the diet, get on the treadmill and lift weights like tomorrow will never come… ok, maybe not. That kind of attitude is actually why the vast majority of “New Year’s resolutions” fail. The human brain and body can only handle so much significant change at once.

Instead, think about instituting the changes you want gradually. Begin with a challenging, but realistic goal, say for the end of the year; how do you want to look, do you want to gain muscle, lose fat, or just overall look hot for your reunion so that when you see that jerk who stiffed you at prom he or she will regret that mistake?

Once you settle on one or two big goals break those goals down into medium, and then small-sized goals. For instance, say you are 30 – 40 lbs overweight, or what you think you should weigh. While in a month, that’s not a very realistic goal, but over an entire year, it’s surprisingly achievable…. IF you are willing to do the work necessary to make it happen. With these smaller goals, say 4 pounds a month; how will you reward yourself at the end of January if you lost those 4 pounds? Break that goal down to 1 pound a week. Its small manageable goals like these that can help, as opposed to hurt, your program. Also plan for a contingency should you not lose those 4 pounds. If you only lost two, hey, it’s 2 less than before and start over with trying to lose 4 pounds in February, as opposed to 6.

To lose weight you have to do several things nutritionally, not just limit what you eat, but how you eat; what times, how much, what foods, etc. Don’t try to wipe out everything you love to eat, because that means a massive binge-night before January’s out. Just think moderation; no more huge meals. When you go out to eat; immediately divide the plate in half and take home half and eat the other half or share with someone. TRY to make a few more meals, rather than going out for every meal, or when you cook, add a couple of less calorie-dense ingredients. Try not to eat late at night, eat breakfast, snack, etc.

If you want to workout more to lose weight/gain muscle, what will that take? Can you go before work, at lunch or after work? If you travel a lot, have you gone to a fitness-travel website to give you ideas on what to do in your room or where some travel-gym friendly hotels are? One of the best ways to reinvigorate or start a workout program actually is to get a trainer, especially if you are new to the gym scene. However, since I am one, things to be aware of: make sure the trainer has some sort of national certification in addition to ACE or they’re home-grown credentials. ACSM, CSCS, NASM and NSCA are the top, they require the most intensive exams and for ACSM only those with a degree in a health-related field can even apply for the certification. If the trainer suggests you warm up on the treadmill or bike while he or she is with you for 10 or 15 minutes take a pass. I know my clients can warm up by themselves, then I get to kick the sh** out of them for an hour. ? The trainer needs to be able to modify a program specific to your needs. 4 sets of 8 reps to ultimate failure on each exercise probably doesn’t fit everyone’s needs, for example.

Most of us work more and play less nowadays and it’s the job that’s killing us. If you don’t have a full hour for lunch, what about 45 minutes? Can you go at 10 or at 2 PM? Maybe you can’t have an optimal workout schedule, but remember that something is better than nothing.

Obviously, with working out, cardio has to go with weight training. Except for the metabolically gifted can you lose weight only through resistance exercise. Unfortunately as the average American gets fatter, he or she needs to have more activity during the day. While ideally people should get over 200 minutes of activity (cardio) per week, most don’t have that kind of time, plus time to weight train. To counteract that tight schedule, you need to be smart with your time. I get so irritated when I see people at the gym taking the elevator up to the cardio floor…. come on people. Or they drive an extra 15 minutes to get closer to the mall or grocery store. Good old fashioned walking does have its benefits especially because it’s cumulative. Remember to get activity where you can.

Again, all of these tips do not need to be started immediately. Try to tackle a piece of the puzzle, one area at a time. Also, use the buddy system. Agree to workout with a friend; you’re less likely to skip a workout when you’re tired if you know someone’s waiting for you. Remember to forget about perfection in “reinventing” yourself in 2006; you’re human, you will mess up. Accept what will be and it will be easier to get back on the program without a massive backsliding in your workout goals.