Don't Be A January


As another calendar year draws to a close we once again find ourselves in a time of reflection and ponderance. For many, the look backward is on unmet goals and lost opportunities. The look forward on self improvement. Hence, the ubiquitous and daunting "New Years Resolution."

Although the desire and motivation for change and personal improvement is as varied as the individual, one topic seems to come up in conversation more than others. I am speaking, of course, about resolutions to lose weight and/or get in shape. Thousands will commit to losing weight in the new year, to getting in shape, to improving their overall fitness, to eat better, and be healthier. To that end, many will purchase gym memberships, hire personal trainers, buy books on the latest diet craze and fully commit to a new lifestyle.

In the fitness industry, these are known as the "Januaries." Why? Because, by and large they will be gone by February. Sad but true.  Most New Years Resolutions wither and die on the vine within weeks.

One of the reasons for failure is a lack of proper commitment in the first place. Another is unrealistic and therefore unattainable goals. If you plan to lose those 50 extra pounds by Superbowl Sunday, guess what? 

To be successful, goals should be short term and measurable. Big achievements (such as losing 100lbs) should be broken down into short range goals. The sense of accomplishment at reaching those short goals along the way fuels motivation to stay on track towards the big one. 

A measurable goal is one that is specific. If the long term goal is to lose 100lbs., the short term goal might be 10lbs. a month. This can easily be measured on a scale. An unspecific goal to "lose weight" is unmeasurable.

Diet and fitness plans should be realistic and lifelong. Make it a priority. Would you let things come up that keep you from going to work or taking care of your children? Your commitment to yourself should be no different.

Find activities you like. If you hate what you are doing for exercise or find it boring, you won't do it for long.

Don't underestimate the value of weight training. Increasing the amount of lean muscle mass on your body boosts your metabolism. Personally, I would rather lift weight than wear it.

In case the prospect of a healthier, fitter you is not motivation enough to keep that resolution, perhaps the idea of lower insurance rates and health care costs can help. Obesity is now the second most preventable cause of death, after tobacco use. To that end, many insurers offer lower premiums to those with gym memberships. It is, of course, no secret, that healthier people have fewer medical bills. And to that end, many employers offer incentives for employees to stay healthy. Many larger corporations even have in house fitness facilities and/or trainers. If yours does not, ask why?

If you are not sure where to begin or you start to lose that motivation that got you going on January 1st, I would suggest hiring a personal trainer and/or a registered dietician to help guide, motivate and focus your efforts.

In short, don't be a January. 

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