Make Fitness a Must Instead of a Should in 2013
One of the first things you’ll do in 2013 is make a New Year’s fitness resolution and solemnly promise to make it stick. But lurking somewhere in the back of your mind will be the ghosts of resolutions past — the ones that never saw the light of Valentine’s Day. Why are many of those well-intentioned resolutions so ill-fated, even when research shows that almost one million people in North America die each year from cardiovascular disease – 75% of these cases directly related to lifestyle factors like overeating, smoking, stress, and poor fitness levels?
One problem in our fast-paced society is that everyone wants results immediately – quick fix workouts and fat loss potions rake in millions of dollars each year; yet we are bigger and unhealthier than ever! Another factor is that resolutions are often structured as “all or nothing” propositions, making you feel like a failure the first time you fall off the wagon and reach for a cigarette or indulge in that second helping of dessert. Add this to the fact that most of these promises are made in the after-glow of New Year’s lights and drinks – far removed from day to day reality!
So, how do you strengthen your conviction and continually cultivate motivation to really make that new lifestyle habit stick? Notice how we said “CONTINUALLY”! It is like brushing your teeth – you can’t just do it once and be good for the month… Here is your guide to resolution success for 2013:
Write them down in a visible location – The written word has binding and lasting power. Make a contract with yourself and keep it in a highly visible location where you can read it each day. The bathroom mirror is an excellent location in the beginning. Performance experts say that you should ideally read your goals at least twice per day. Many successful people carry a copy in their wallet or purse to remind them of their intentions as they go about their day.
Share your resolutions with family and friends – The support of your loved ones will help fuel the fire when temptation rears its evil head. Of course you have to make sure to only share with people who are supportive of your endeavors. There’s nothing worse than that know-it-all brother-in-law who reminds you of all your other failed attempts the minute you share your new plan!
Celebrate the small victories – set mini-goals and weekly check-ins with a trainer or nutritionist. The scale or tape measure can help you document your own progress if weight loss is a goal. Give yourself small, meaningful rewards that do not sway you from your resolve. A chocolate fudge sundae is not a great reward if you are worried about your weight or blood pressure!
Schedule a physical – Have your MD measure cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, blood pressure, resting pulse and body weight. Baseline information can often be quite an eye-opener. Ask your practitioner how your numbers look – it is all too easy to ignore the early warning signs of illness as they tend to sneak up on you. That occasional ache in your chest or discomfort in your stomach needs to be examined. Even former U.S. President Bill Clinton had chest pains for several months before he sought medical attention.
Consult with a personal trainer – Start resistance training in addition to aerobic conditioning. Weight training is fitness fundamental. Muscle tissue keeps you independent as you age and new research shows that resistance training is also good for the brain! People who exercise regularly with moderate to high intensity are 50 – 60% less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Being completely hydrated each day is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Most people know that water is important for digestion and the efficient management of waste products. However, did you also know lower back pain has been related to dehydration? Water is a lubricating agent for all the body’s joints. If you are not drinking enough water on a regular basis, spinal disc components can become water depleted making you susceptible to spinal instability. Degenerative changes and osteoarthritis can then occur. Dehydration also has negative effects on cognition and on muscle strength – just ask any athlete! How much water should you drink? One general method is to take your bodyweight in pounds and divide it by two. This number is the amount of water in ounces you need to drink for optimum health.
Use the 80/20 rule when making your food choices. Pareto’s 80/20 Principle can be applied to nutrition. Many people have an “all or nothing” attitude when it comes to sound nutrition. On January 1st they declare they will never eat fast food again. However, after a week of 100% abstinence, they can be seen circling the drive-thru at midnight in disguise. The 80/20 rule is a far more balanced approach. It refers to a general principle we use in our family: Make healthy food choices 80% of the time and enjoy the occasional indulgence the other 20%.
Create fitness friendships. Exercise researchers report that peer groups influence one’s ability to maintain a regular exercise program. Spending time with people who enjoy exercise can inspire even the most reluctant couch potato! Therefore, take the time to nurture relationships with people who enjoy physical activity.
Schedule a follow-up physical after six months. The follow-up allows you to see tangible improvements of the new lifestyle habits you have implemented. So, if you are not experiencing the mysterious “after glow” of exercise that your fanatic friends rave about – perhaps knowing that you have improved blood sugar levels, triglycerides, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and resting pulse will help maintain your motivation. A dictum from the world of psychology and executive life coaching: “what gets measured gets improved upon.”
William James, often referred to as the Father of American Psychology, said that if a person wants to create change in any area of their lives, they need to take immediate and massive action. Right now, you can make an appointment with your doctor for a physical, drink an additional glass of water, and invite one of your active friends for an evening walk. Jim Rohn once said: “There are only two pains in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. The pain of discipline weighs ounces; the pain of regret weighs tons.” What better time to kick-start your newfound discipline than the start of a New Year!
Uche (International wellness lecturer, dentist and certified trainer) and wife Kary (a former physical education teacher and a professional athlete) are the authors of The Miracle of Health. Their upbeat approach to health and fitness has been enjoyed on Canada AM and City TV Breakfast Television. The dynamic duo love to share their energy and enthusiasm during their lecturers at corporate conferences throughout the US and Canada. www.FitSpeakers.com
Uche Odiatu and my guest host, Deri Latimer had a very informative conversation on my Your Life, Unlimited radio show in while I was out of town. You can listen to the January 25, 2013 show here and pick up even more great ideas…
Stephanie Staples is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success and an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. She empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at http://www.YourLifeUnlimited.ca.