How to keep your New Year’s fitness resolution
[Ed.'s Note: Today is part two of a two-part series about the most popular new year's resolution — physical fitness. The article below suggests fitness resolutions and how to make them stick.]
The new year is a time when change is at the forefront. And the biggest thing people aspire to change are their bodies.
The University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology published a study in December 2012 listing the top resolution as losing weight.
“We're getting a lot of phone calls and interest with people coming back to the gym, people have been traveling through the holidays are returning, we're seeing that influx that continues from now through March,” said Brianna Larson, certified trainer at Fitness Lady in Bossier City. “A lot of people want to get fit for a certain occasion, such as women who got enaged over the holiday.”
However, that same study also noted that not many people stick to these well-intended resolutions.
The initial high level of motivation for fitness and health resolutions in the first week (around 75 percent stick to their resolution) is almost cut in half as months pass (down to 46 percent).
“As a health and fitness professional, we have to understand what the disconnect is and find a way to keep people motivated. We have to head that off and start people off with specific and attainable goals,” said Larson.
Although change is the underlying motivation when it comes to a New Year's resolution, Larson encourages to not try and change too many things at once.
“Starting one healthy habit may help you start a new lifestyle. Once you're able to master something that is a small change, you're able to control something that is a little more challenging,” she said.
Instead, start off with goals that can be easily attained and measured.
“It's an important step to find a starting point that can be easily tracked,” said Larson. “Studies show that people feel accomplished as they attain incremental goals and they play a huge part in sustained weight loss and maintenance.”
Two examples of this are resolutions such as standing more and cooking at home (being in control of ingredients and portion sizes).
“There are a lot of ways you can improve your health without sweating and being in pain,” said Larson.
The attitude of shooting for the stars is what may lead to so many failed fitness resolutions. That is, it comes down to a scattershot, undefined resolution that starts fledgling gym rats off on the wrong foot.
“There's this chaotic approach to fitness and wellness goals and it leads to emulating someone without taking a unique approach to one's own lifestyle, fitness, and budget,” said Larson.
And when struggles manifest themselves as they always do, fitness takes a hit.
“When someone has long hours at work, sickness in their family, or can't afford organic food, that affects their routine and limits their fitness level,” said Luck. “A lot of people become illogical in thinking that they're never going to get sick or injured, and eat well every day. This is real life, people get sick and work long hours.”
The easiest way through this dip in routine is to have a “worst case scenario” so your skip doesn't turn into a pattern of abandoning altogether.
“It's going to be different for everyone. When you start working out, you have to develop a strategy for eating or where you can exercise when you can't make it to the gym.”
She also suggests having a workout buddy for support, especially for women.
“Women have a higher level of guilt and shame so it's important for them to have a compartmentalizing of each day and outward support to tell them it's okay and they will get the weight off,” said Larson.
To help get started, Larson offers some tips for the exercise novice:
- Get an assessment or doctor's release to make sure you are healthy enough to exercise.
“There's always movement suggestions for people with particular health problems and need to make sure someone is healthy enough to engage in physical exercise,”
- Find a routine that suits your physical and confidence levels while improving your overall body conditioning.
“The goal is movement, ability, and confidence. Find something you feel confident in and enjoy doing that includes flexibility and strength training,” she said.
- Hire a personal trainer before starting off on your own.
“You need personal attention because you could have different bone alignments from carrying excess weight or don't know how to do particular exercises correctly, and you're setting yourself up for injury,” said Larson.
- The notion that “No pain, no gain” isn't true.
“It's use without abuse. Non-exercisers are going to sweat, they're going to feel tired, but they shouldn't feel in pain,” she said.