As the new year begins, so do the resolutions. Lose weight. Exercise. Save money. Get organized. All is well before the magical new year ball drops, but afterwards, it’s time for serious business. For many, the #1 resolution for the new year is to lose weight. And how do you do that? Easy. Decrease portion sizes. Increase calories burned, or simply put, exercise. Do this, and the not-so-simple magic formula can produce remarkable physical transformations. That is, if you actually eat less and do more. In theory, this sounds too good to be true. But the reality is, decreasing portion sizes is a really hard habit to break because even if you aren’t at McDonald’s, everything in the US gets “super sized.” Restaurant meals intended to be a serving for one, seem to be more like a meal for a family. Gargantuan portion sizes that start with sugary drinks, buttered bread and rolls, and never-ending helpings of soup or salad, are enough to make anyone, over weight, out of shape, and obese. In fact, research supports that we live in an obesogenic society, which in its simplest terms means, we are destined to be obese given the way food is prepared in the US. Just think, a few years ago, you couldn’t go into a gas station to pay for gas and order burgers, fried fish, or burritos, and now it’s mainstream. Petrol and pizza. In the US, it’s more than Houston with a problem.
As a fitness professional and former school administrator who’s been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle AND be a mother of six daughters, I’ve found some simple tips that may help you with your goals for this new year. In education,we helped our students create S.M.A.R.T. goals, but I have found that these are also helpful for daily living. Why? Because instead of just saying, “I am going to lose weight this year,” as many people do, you actually add detail, focus, and clarity to your resolution or goal.
For instance, instead of saying, “I am going to lose weight this year,” a more realistic resolution would be to say, “I am going to lose 5 or more pounds each month until I reach my goal weight.” Now, instead of an open-ended idea, you have a specific way to measure your progress which is also attainable. Then, as you work toward that, you also have a way tracking your progress. Relevance is the one I like the most because a resolution for your new year should be something that is tailor made just for you, and not as the cover of a magazine dictates.
When I teach my fitness classes, one of the mantras I speak to my students often is that “this is not your neighbor’s workout” meaning, you don’t have to compete with the person on the step board next to you. Your workout is for you. Some people come in and use double risers, which makes the workout even more challenging, and as the instructor, I used to think that meant that I had to use triple risers! Of course that was my gotta-do-more-be-faster-better-stronger-voice talking, until I became a Type A practicing yogi–thank God! And now I can speak from the heart that the competition is with no one, other than that deceiving voice inside that must learn, you are not in this world to live up to anyone else’s expectations.
Do yourself a favor this year and resolve to love yourself, curves and all. Sure, you can have goals to improve your body image, but do this more for the sake of your healthy heart and so you can be in shape to live your life to its fullest potential.
I have a friend who tells a harrowing story of the embarrassment of having to request a seat belt extender with her children watching, and resolved never to ask for that again. And she hasn’t. Since then, she’s lost 5o lbs, and now needs Facebook to create a stop-sending-me-pokes button. She isn’t anywhere near her desired weight goal, but she is happy, healthy, and strong.
Each year, the first few months are packed at the gym. You can’t get a spin bike. The step boards and yoga mats are all in use. And then slowly, all those people who had so much fervency for fitness fall off. And the parking spaces are once again available. And the classes have room. I often wonder, what makes people lose their drive? One reason I think is that they set unrealistic goals that were way too high, and then out of frustration, just gave up. But not this year. We are going to be, and use “smart” goals, so that we have realistic resolutions that last.
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