New Year, New Me
by Carmen Grange
So, it’s nearing the end of the first week in January and you’re already beginning to struggle with your New Year’s weight loss resolution, or maybe you’ve already quit, but don’t give up just yet. There’s plenty of time left in the new year to get started on your resolution or to push yourself to continue to strive toward that goal. Did you know that every year, an estimated 45% of the U.S. population makes one or more New Year’s resolutions? Of that, 38% make a weight loss resolution, and only a staggering 8% achieve their New Year’s goal. The problem with making yearly resolutions for many people is that they generally aren’t prepared to make the changes. You go into the new year thinking “New year, new me!” but you don’t have a plan to execute that mantra. First thing’s first, you must plan! But there are a few other things you can do to stick to your weight loss goal.
- Make a Plan
For most of us, not have a schedule or a plan is detrimental to our goal. We often tell ourselves “I don’t have to start today”, “There’s always tomorrow”, “I’ll just eat this last cookie and then I’ll start my new diet”. Don’t think in this way. If you planned to start a new goal on Monday, you must start on Monday. Waiting increases your chances of failure. So, get those last-minute cheat meals in and go out partying with your friends, but always start when you originally planned to.
Decide what your new way living is going to be. Are you going to workout and change your eating habits or are you just going to begin with one? Should you workout daily or simply start slowly with 2-3 days per week? Have you spoken with your doctor, and are there any health concerns that you need to consider? Do you need to be held accountable, and should you hire someone to help you reach your goal? What time will you go to the gym, before work or after work? Are you going to meal prep your food or just wing-it? These are all questions that should go into making your plan. If you haven’t answered these questions, the chances of failure are greater. It’s simple to sit back and make a small list of your goals and the steps you’re going to take to reach them. Take the time to make a solid plan.
- Establish Realistic Goals
You know you want to lose weight, but do you also want to build muscle? Are you going to take pictures and evaluate your progress based on what you see, or will you step on the scale every week on the same day at the same time? Will you make short-term goals along the way to reaching your long-term goal? Again, all important questions to ask yourself.
If your goal is to lose fat, you may want to think about lifting weights as well. Once you reach that fat loss goal, you will likely find that what lies underneath the fluff isn’t exactly what you pictured. You may have less muscle than you imagined, or may have extra loose skin that needs to be toned. To rectify both scenarios, hit the weight room or join a class to work on building your body’s muscle.
Your end goal may be to lose 30 lbs by the end of the year (certainly a do-able task), but what about short-term goals? It’s much easier to hold yourself accountable and to reach the end goal if you establish short-term goals. Try making a short-term goal list. On this list, you should decide when you will begin your exercise regimen. You will likely start with cardio, but you should decide when you will begin weight lifting. If your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight, you should also decide in what time intervals you will lose it. For example: “By the end of February, I will lose 6 pounds.” Establishing realistic goals will help you to be a part of that rare 8% of people who accomplish their New Year’s resolutions.
- Recommendations for Success
Don’t try to do everything in the first week. Begin with revamping your diet, because after all, it will most definitely be the most difficult part of your new transition. Take a week to establish your healthy way of eating before you attempt to add exercise. Once you’ve changed your diet, implement your exercise regimen. But again, start slow. Statistically, first-time gym-goers quit within the first week because they train too hard and their muscles are more fatigued than they’ve ever experienced. This sudden shock to your muscles may cause you to become discouraged, and thus, you may decide to end your fitness journey. Don’t fall into this trap.
Take it slow. Start with cardio 3 days/week for 20 minutes. Every week, add on 5 minutes until you’ve reached your desired length of cardio. After the second week (minimum), begin implementing weight lifting. Alternate cardio and weights days so you don’t burn out too quickly. Once that plan is has been implemented successfully, begin doing cardio on your weight training days as well, followed by increases in weight lifting frequency. Eventually, you will have established an all new fitness routine in a safe and effective way, without becoming too fatigued at the onset of the regimen. Following this basic plan will greatly increase your chances for success.