Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Year Resolutions? Or disappointments waiting to happen?

I find it very interesting this time of year to hear people start to talk about their resolutions when it comes to the New Year?  There are so many dramatic changes in the works.  As is most common, New Year's resolutions tend to lean toward fitness and nutrition. The most common being weight loss.

How many times do you hear "I'm going to lose 25 pounds this year" or "I'm resloving to be in shape this year"?  I know, I even say that myself.  As a trainer, I get many of my clients asking what they should resolve to do next year.  Should they lose "x" number of pounds, or should they bench press "x" number.  I really get tired of it.

What I rarely hear is how they will achieve goals.  I'd really like to hear someone say that they resolve to eat less junk food, or they resolve to eat less grains. Do you realize that when you talk about losing weight there needs to be a process to getting then desired results?  There aslo should be benchmarks along the way.  It is really common for someone to say I want to lose 40 pounds this year, so they go on a diet to lose it.  At the end of about 3 weeks, they are down 20 and think that they are doing well.  This person is really setting themselves up for a huge failure becuase they can't keep up what they are doing and the pace that they are losing weight.  As soon as the weight loss slows, they think that they are a failure and give it up.  Now they are back to the old eating habits and gain 25 pounds back.  That adds up to a +5 to me.

Is someone wants to lose 40 in the year, it is really less than a pound a week!  If I challenged you to lose 40 pounds, you would think that's a pretty big chunk of fat to lose and it might seem daunting.  If I challenged you to drink 16 more ounces of water a day, do you think that would be easier?  What about if I challenged you to cut out one of your fancy coffee drinks a week? 2 or 3 less pieces of bread?  You see where I'm going.  I'm trying to get you to make very small changes that will get you to lose 3/4 of a pound per week.  It doesn't take much.  Come back in one year and you are down 40 pounds!

BUT....This also means that you only have to lose about 3 1/2 pounds per month.  Measure yourself against that amount each month instead of trying to go for the whole 40, it works much easier that way. Seven pounds after two months, 10 after three.....this adds up to 40 after a year.  Now we are sounding like this is more achievable.  Go for it.

The same comes with fitness.  You can't try to get it all in the first 9 days of January!

Let's try this:  Resolve to do some sort of physical activity for only 10 minutes per day.  It doesn't matter what you do, just do 10 minutes.  What we are trying to do here is get past the hard part, establishing the habit.  Research has shown that it takes at least 21 days to develop a habit.  That's not 21 total days, that's 21 CONSECUTIVE days.  If you can move for 21 days, you are well on your way.

This will get you going, that's all we are trying to do.  It's not hard exercise.  You want to build up in the intensity so that you don't do more than your body is capable of.  If you do more that you are capable of, your body will fight that and provide you with a nice little thing call an overuse injury.  These are the nagging shoulder, knee, back, etc. injuries that stop you from exercising.

Remember, it's not that we are trying to get you fit in January, we are working to get your body PREPARED, to be fit.  It may take a while, but it will establish the long term habits and development that your body really needs.  That's a tough endevour in this "gotta have it now" society. 

You can't Fedex overnight your fitness and health.