It’s that time of year when grand statements are made. The type that should be announced from a gold thrown in a tall castle, “I shall not eat another sweet until Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet orbits around the Sun,” said in a resounding voice. Yeah that would be six years.
For centuries we have been making New Year’s resolutions. Believe it or not, this all started with ancient Babylonians in the month of March. It was partly done for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the king and partly to the gods. Fast forward a few centuries, mix in some war traditions from the Romans with some religious practices from western civilization and VOILA…every January we make proclamations for a new beginning.
As a trainer and outdoor fitness specialist, I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. I do like the concept of ‘wiping the slate clean’ and ‘starting over’. I just dislike the idea that it can only happen once a year. Whoever said you had to wait to the new year to start over and, well, REALLY try? We are not perfect (yeah no kidding) and during our lives we move forward and backward. To wait a year to make a change seems crazy to me. Have you ever seen the path to success?
Making grand statements that do not allow do-overs, set backs or no ‘get out of jail free’ card, will just cause disappointment. Setting realistic resolutions with milestones that allow for set backs can make you feel like you ARE on that golden thrown in the castle.
Weight loss and diet are one of the most common fitness resolutions that are uttered at the stroke of midnight before the new year. And these certainly require reminders to achieve them. Let’s face it, if it were easy we’d all look like super models. Here are some basic facts and reminders to help keep it real on your fitness journey in 2016.
You are not an alien. The general foundation for weight loss is the same for everyone. You need to burn 3500 calories to lose a pound. You can do this through diet and exercise. Combine the two and you have more pound-losing power. There are a ton of factors that can affect your weight loss - hormones, age, genetics, sleep, food, and exercise choices. The key is keeping yourself honest and tracking your hard work. If you like to fudge you will never know what really works for you. Exercise and calorie counting apps can work wonders. Some even reward your work with hard earned cash. Now that is incentive right there.
The average person loses anywhere from 1-2 pounds a week. Some of my most successful clients only drop .5 pounds a week. A snails pace it may seem but loses add up quickly. Big drops one week can be exciting but can mess with your mind when the scale doesn’t budge the following week. The important thing here is, the scale is going down! Keep in mind that it is possible to completely undo your hard work in one weekend of gluttony. You can step away from the donut now.
Get out of that cardio jail FREE. Spinning your wheels on the human habit trail treadmill or bike will only get you so far. Adding muscle will increase your metabolism thus increasing your pound-losing power. The more muscle you have, the more fat burning power your body has at a resting state - yep sign me up for that. We lose 1% of our muscle mass per year after the age of 30, another important reason to lift weights. The odds may seem like they are against us but if you start now, you will be further along in the fitness fight.
The most important piece of fitness advice I can give out this time of year is be like a plant and seek the sunshine. No one ever said that your fitness quest had to live inside a gym. Fit for life is something I believe everyone can do but it means looking at your fitness journey differently. Not as a temporary place to be. If you loathe the gym and working out is a chore, then find a fitness passion you can weave into your life. Something you look forward to. Stand up paddling, trail running, rock climbing, hiking, winter mountaineering, snowshoeing, to just name a few. You don't need to be an expert either. Everyone has to start somewhere. Meet up groups, classes and beginner adventure trips could be the key to your fitness success. All you need to do is step out side your comfort zone and try. It could be the missing ingredient for your new years resolution success.
In 2017 or 2018 if you find yourself needing a do-over, a change in direction or a serious shake up to keep you moving forward with your resolution, don't wait another year. Change things up. Pick new strategies. Most importantly, mark that date on your calendar as your NEW personal New Year’s and wipe the slate clean.