The New Year is upon us, and when the New Year approaches, it is not uncommon to make heartfelt declarations about what changes we plan to make in order to improve our finances, health, relationships or our lives in general. Unfortunately, when we make the decision to make major transformations (even positive ones) simply because of a prescribed date, we might be setting ourselves up for failure. If you want your New Year’s resolutions to stick, it is important to know why those resolutions are important to you, and devise a plan to modify your life in such a way that you can make the appropriate accommodations with a minimum of discomfort and frustration. Here are a few tips that will hopefully make the classic New Year’s resolution—weight loss—a little easier.
The most common New Year’s resolution is the decision to lose weight and lead a healthy lifestyle. However, by the end of February, we often begin to get disappointed with our progress, start missing workout sessions and slip back into our old habits. So, how can we maintain the same level of enthusiasm and dedication throughout the year? The answer is: start slowly.
Exercise and Fitness Routines
We all want to begin our fitness routine with guns blazing—waking up at 5am and running five miles, going on a strict diet regimen and eliminating all dangerous, nutritionally void foods. However, going from zero to 100 (figuratively speaking) is exhausting, and beginning a rigorous new routine can be taxing on the joints and muscles. The inability to complete a vigorous workout can cause us to become disappointed in ourselves and more likely to quit altogether. If you’ve allowed your physical conditioning to slip, begin with an activity you can manage. Start with a brisk walk a couple of days a week, and build up to weight training. If you cannot stand the idea of repetitive exercises, try a beginning yoga or dance class; being in a social situation while learning a fun new skill will help diminish the monotony of regular exercise. After a few weeks of working out, you will find that your energy levels have risen, your mood has elevated and you’ve become stronger, so you’ll want to begin challenging yourself physically and start harder and longer workout sessions.
What about dieting? Isn’t it a good idea to eat cleanly, and cut out sugary, fatty and overly salty foods? Of course it is—if you are able to stick to it. Once again, start slowly. Rather than completely removing all greasy temptations, try supplementing your existing diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables without deliberately purging all comfort foods. If two of your three meals consist of lean proteins, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains, you can slowly build your tolerance for clean eating without feeling as though you are being deprived.
Setting Goals and Keeping to Them
Believe it or not, beginning a successful weight loss journey doesn’t necessarily mean focusing solely on the number of pounds you need to lose. Of course, the most convenient way to assess weight loss success is by keeping track of pounds lost, but weight loss can (and will) eventually plateau, and the week or two weeks when the numbers on the scale don’t budge can be disheartening. Rather than having a goal weight, try setting other fitness goals for yourself, such as walking a certain number of miles by a certain date, or jogging a certain number of miles without stopping. Eventually, you’ll find yourself stronger, healthier and feeling great!