Late last month, I hinted at the fact that I was about to be published again in the local paper.
I don't think that the article has officially hit the presses yet, but since this topic is well timed due to New Years Resolution Season and many of you won't see the actual paper itself anyway (since it's a small publication), I thought I might just go ahead and share.
Three Steps to Resolution Success
Happy 2016! Now that we’re a few days into the New Year, how are your resolutions coming along? Are you making progress towards your “new you”? If you are like many Americans resolving to improve your health in 2016, you are not alone. Every year, almost anyone you talk to has resolved to do something along the lines of lose weight, eat healthier or be more fit. And yet, statistics show that less than 10% of people actually achieve these types of goals by year end.
What can we do to improve these statistics? By following a few simple guidelines, anyone can improve their odds of resolution success. Let these three steps show you how.
Step One – Start Small
Sometimes we sabotage ourselves on our resolution goals before we have even started. Though your goal may be to lose 20 pounds, or run 5 miles, or change to a more plant based diet … it is important to remember you do not need to hit that goal overnight. In fact, trying to achieving these types of goals too quickly will have the opposite effect, since major changes in your existing routine end up feeling overwhelming and unmanageable. As a result, you may not stick to them at all.
Developing small, manageable stepping stones towards your end goal is key in ensuring success. For example: instead of that 20 pound goal, start out by focusing on losing a half a pound a week; rather than go all out on a 5 mile run, just aim to run 20-30 minutes a day / 2-3 times per week; and don’t try to go vegan overnight, instead work to incorporate an additional produce item into each meal. After a few weeks of incorporating small changes into your daily life, minor adjustments like these will slowly become part of your regular routine. Then, with the changes mastered, you will open the opportunity to introduce additional small, maintainable changes – and those too, eventually will become habit as well.
Step Two – Move More
For any resolution goal directed towards improving health – weight loss, increased fitness, etc – moving more is a vital component to that success. But as stated in number one above, taking an all in approach towards getting more activity is a guaranteed fail. Not only will your body feel sore or stiff following a new or intense workout regime, but a quick switch into a high volume workout plan will begin to feel impossible to maintain on week two … or three or four, if you even make it that far.
Using the inspiration above, and considering your current level of activity, start with a slow build into a routine. If you’re currently not active at all, start by going for a brisk 20 minute walk 2-3 times per week. If you’re already walking, try adding some short running intervals to your routine, or join a group fitness class once a week. And if you’re already doing a class once a week, consider adding a second class or an additional new activity to your schedule. The key here is to build gradually, letting your body adjust to an increased volume of movement each week. Even adding 20 minutes of additional activity once a week – and maintaining that long term – will take you to your end goal.
Step Three – Examine Your Eating
Just like moving more, examining your eating is another vital component to healthy resolution success. And as stated in point one above, changing your existing diet overnight is not the solution – instead, incorporating small changes here or there is the ticket.
Take some time to examine what you eat at every sitting (yes, even those daily snacks and late night freezer runs), and see what small changes you can make each day that still fulfill your appetite or craving, but with a slightly healthier twist. What may seem like an inconsequential omission from your meal, such as the cheese on your daily sandwich at lunch, actually makes a big difference long term: leaving off that cheese could save you around 150 calories a day – over the course of 365 days, that’s 54,750 calories, or the equivalent of what it takes to create approximately 15 pounds of body fat. Even if your goal isn’t weight loss, those spare calories open up the opportunity for you to add something with higher nutritional value into your daily eating instead, improving your health even more.
**Natalie Cobb is a Group Fitness Instructor at the Chaska Community Center. She invites you to join her for a work out every Tuesday/Thursday at 5:30pm. Drop in class is $5.25 / $4.25 (members).**