You’ve survived another holiday season of parties, adult beverages, pies, presents, in-laws, that “one” family member, and… more adult beverages.
It was fun. But now it’s time you get your butt in gear and start working on new goals. To guide you on your way to success, I’ve put together tips to help you keep your fitness resolutions in 2017.
Focus on fitness, not numbers
I’m currently working with a husband and wife who hope to get in shape for the first time in their lives. They have three kids and very busy schedules, so fitness has long been a low priority.
A couple of weeks ago, they were both frustrated because “the scale didn’t move” that week. They both expressed disappointment, but then the wife told me that both she and her husband performed squats with a child on their back for fun. She said they each did two sets of 10 repetitions, her with her 4-year-old daughter and him with his 9-year-old son.
This offhand comment betrayed some significant fitness gains. Just two months prior, neither of them could complete two sets of 20 reps with just their own body weight without almost collapsing. Now they’d added weight and made exercise a family event.
I see this all the time. Many of my clients want to lose 15, 20, or 25 pounds. Then, when the scale stops moving, they get discouraged and give up. This is despite the fact that even if the weight loss hasn’t worked out like they wanted, they’ve often made significant fitness gains.
The moral of the story? It’s better to focus on fitness than weight loss. Instead of saying “I want to lose XX pounds,” try shifting your goal to “I want to reduce my triglycerides and fasting blood sugar numbers and I want to be able to walk up the stairs without getting out of breath.”
Focus on the journey
When setting goals, it helps to have a timeline in mind. But setting a hard end date can create new problems.
The internet is awash with “30 day makeover” challenges that promise rapid weight loss and/or muscle and fitness gains. These challenge almost never work.
Why not? Because life happens!
Virtually no one will stick to a new diet or workout plan 100% of the time, and that’s OK. It’s best to approach fitness goals with the understanding that there will be challenges and setbacks along the way. Instead of locking yourself into a schedule, try to build ongoing habits you can return to if (when) you stray from the path.
Eat right, the right way
When setting nutritional goals, many people try to completely eliminate a specific type of food. While well-intentioned, this approach often leads to cravings, which in turn lead to binges.
Instead, I suggest a method called “crowding out,” which entails using healthy options to gradually push out bad foods.
For example: if dinner consists of a protein and two cups of potatoes, replace onec up of potatoes with a cup of sautéed fibrous vegetables seasoned with some of your favorite herbs. Each week, increase the amount of greens while reducing the starchy carbs. Eventually, the greens will “crowd out” the starches.
When describing a new approach to eating, try not to say you’re “on a diet.” When deviating from your best practices, avoid phrases like “cheat meal”—this implies that you’ve done something bad, and can create feelings of guilt and discouragement.
As mentioned above, staying fit and healthy is an unending journey. It’s far more important to generate sustainable long-term habits than to stress over meeting super-specific short term goals.
If you need help getting started and/or staying on track, I am always available for a consultation and can be reached by email at [email protected]. Good luck and I wish you great success in 2017 with all of your goals. Enjoy the journey my friends.