Never fail a ‘get fit’ resolution again

By on January 1, 2009

by Gwen Allen

            Many Americans will resolve to be healthy and fit in the New Year, some will succeed, but unfortunately more will fail. The problem is this resolution requires many small changes to achieve a much larger goal.

            Erick Dodendorf, who is a personal trainer and co-owner with Brian Monaghan of Fitness Together in Geneva, said the biggest mistake made by those who vow to “lose weight” or “get fit” are, “They jump in the deep end without knowing how to swim.”

            “Another problem is there is a lot of pressure with new year resolutions, people tend to be too hard on themselves and do too much too quick, so they are more likely to fail,” Dodendorf said. “This is a lifestyle change (not a quick fix), so with a little education first, they are more likely to stick with it and see results.”

            Before starting an exercise plan, he said people should consult a professional or at least do some research. Then set a plan that includes many small goals, or benchmarks, to achieve the bigger goal. An example is a small goal to exercise just 10 minutes every other day, eventually leading up to five days a week.

            It is also important to understand that exercise is a part of life that needs to happen every day, in one way or another. Whether it’s in the form of jogging, playing outdoors with the kids, shoveling the driveway or going to the gym.

            Dodendorf recommends alternating three and a half hours of aerobic activity and an hour and half of anaerobic (muscle toning) exercise a week just to maintain fitness.

            “The trick is to keep challenging yourself, while staying within your limits,” Dodendorf said. “If you stay realistic and are accountable for yourself, then you will be successful.”

            Though exercise is a key component in a healthy lifestyle, it alone cannot fulfill a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or become fit. Nutrition is important, too.

            Sandi Hunter, a registered dietitian for Delnor Community Hospital in Geneva, said people fail with diets in much the same way that they fail with a fitness program, because they try to do too much too quickly.

            Hunter said people jump into fad diets, and while they may work temporarily, they do not offer permanent results. So she said it is best to forget the word “diet” altogether and focus on nutrition.

            What does this mean? Good nutrition comes from all five food groups, with just a little tweaking. Instead of their unhealthy alternatives, opt for whole wheat, lean cuts of meat, healthy fats (olive, canola oil or fish oils), low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables. Try to stay away from trans and saturated fats.

            “Don’t think of it as something restrictive, just think of it as being more healthy,” Hunter said. “It’s really about making better choices.”

            And don’t worry about an occasional cookie or brownie; Hunter said a healthy diet allows for a splurge here and there. Once you have achieved your ideal weight, she said a good rule of thumb is to make good choices 80 percent of the time while making moderate choices 20 percent of the time.

            If it is difficult to remember your choices, keep a journal. Record your eating and exercise habits and remember that in the end, it boils down to a simple math problem.

            Eat more than you burn off and you will gain weight, eat less then you burn off and you will lose weight.

            So instead of a resolution that vows to lose weight, set one to get healthy, remain optimistic and unpack those skinny jeans, because you may need them again.