A New Year, for a New You

By Martin Brown

It’s the start of another year. With the predictability of flowers blooming in spring, gyms across America are experiencing their busiest month of the year.

Filled with the resolve of New Year’s resolutions, women and men, young and old, are jumping on treadmills, mounting stair masters, and signing up for spinning classes. As a fitness guy it’s always nice to see–

But I also know that, by early February, the crowds will diminish to a trickle and most of these resolutions will be distant memories.

This would change if people woke up to the fact that fitness is more than a resolution:

It’s a lifestyle.

That doesn’t mean saying goodbye forever to your favorite foods or having to live in your workout clothes. It means becoming aware of what your body wants.

Too often resolutions demand of us a certain all-or-nothing fanaticism that we simply cannot sustain. Just like strict diet plans that fail at a rate of over 95%, overly ambitious goals take us down a blind ally. When we can’t stick to them we abandon hope and fall back into old habits.

It’s far better for your health to make small modest changes and stick with them for twelve months than take drastic actions that are abandoned after twelve days.

If you agree with me, you might be wondering: “What modest changes can I make?”
Begin by listening to your body.What do you want to see happen? Do you want to liberate yourself from ten or more extra pounds? Improve your aerobic conditioning? Tone your arms, legs, and tummy?

It’s all very doable if you take small constructive steps:

Weight: begin with an honest assessment of what you eat. Stop playing silly games like “What you eat after midnight doesn’t count.” You’re the gatekeeper of what you put in your mouth. Simply be more aware of what you consume and that alone will make a significant difference. Simple little tricks like putting away bigger plates and using smaller plates so you eat smaller portions really do work.

Aerobics: We’re an all or nothing society and in this area of fitness we see it most obviously. We go from little or no exercise to jumping on a stair master and working our butts off. If you’re past 25, and certainly beyond 30, you’ll be surprised to see that hips, ankles, knees, feet can all start to ache in a week or less. A more modest and successful approach is to begin with a good walk. Add to it in a week, by doing some hills, climbing some steps and slowly increasing your pace.

In toning your arms, tummy, butt, and legs, you use much the same approach. Weight resistance training can yield wonderful results, but more often than not our tendency to do too much weight, and too many repetitions leads to our downfall. Slow and steady wins the race. Ignoring small joint pain leads to chronic discomfort and an abandonment of your regimen with the parting thought, “It’s just not for me.”

If you’ve resolved to get fit just remember three simple things:

1. You didn’t get out of shape in a month and you won’t get into shape in a month.
2. Listen to your body, it knows when you need to back off or slow down.
3. Fitness is not a resolution it’s a habit. Habits take time and patience to develop. Give yourself that time.

Do this and come mid-February you’ll still be dropping into the gym when just about everyone else has long since disappeared.

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Martin Brown is the Heath Channel Editor for SingleMindedWomen.com, and the author ofFit in 50 Days.

His latest book is The Ultimate New Year’s Resolution Diet.