At the end of each year, many people start thinking about things they wish to change or do differently during the next year of their life. Some people wish to save more money. Some wish to travel more. In my experience though, the majority of people look to make positive changes to their health and well-being. It has also been my experience that these goals are often short-lived until either the novelty of the idea wears off or immediate success is not achieved.
The choice to be a healthier, more active you is an excellent goal to have, but many people do not have the skills to set themselves up for success when making this goal. Trying to take a New Year’s resolution and make it a permanent lifestyle change is not always the easiest thing to do. As a Kinesiologist and experienced staff member at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) in the areas of Bariatric, Cancer, and Prevention & Screening, my goal for this article is to shed some light on how to set yourself up for success and be the best you that you can be in 2015 and beyond.
First, you need to start with the overall goal itself. When it comes to health and fitness, the first thing people always say is, “I want to lose ‘X’ number of pounds”. I can’t stress enough that setting a weight loss goal is the single worst thing one can start with, and here’s why. First of all, a person’s weight is rarely the primary problem. Second, once you reach your goal weight, then what? Poor lifestyle choices are usually the primary problem and weight gain is often the consequence. Therefore, one needs to really think about the lifestyle choices that they make (or don’t make) that attribute to the weight they gain and start working on those lifestyle choices instead.
Use reliable sources on the internet or health books to find healthy alternatives to the things you love. Registered Dietitians recommend using www.eatrightontario.ca and www.eattracker.ca. You will be surprised how quickly you begin to feel more energized. Not to mention, you may lose a couple pounds in the process!
Another example of how some people may get off to the wrong start is diving in and buying that illustrious gym membership in the first week of January. My issue isn’t with the gym membership itself, it’s the lack of thought that some put into the membership. You need to do some research and make sure the gym you are choosing is right for you. Unfortunately, it’s not a “one size fits all” type of thing. My recommendation is to look at a few gyms that are close in proximity to either work or home or both. If it is too far from either, you likely won’t go. From that short-list, personally visit each one and scope the place out. Choose the one that best suits what you’re looking for or again you will find every reason not to go. Most fitness places will offer you a free week upon request.
There are a ton of home exercise programs that require little to no equipment that may cost less than a gym membership. The main point about exercise is that movement is integral to energy expenditure. Energy expenditure mean calories are burned instead of being stored as fat. Balance your calories in and out every day. Think about the calories you put in and the exercise you do each day to use them up.
Just as important as nutrition and exercise are to achieving success, so is the way that you think about the goals you make. We tend to think very black and white; either you succeed or you fail. This is the wrong way to go about it. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Behaviours are one of the hardest things to change and often it’s a series of trial and error before any noticeable differences are seen. For that reason, I suggest setting one large goal and breaking it down into smaller goals that are easier and require less time to accomplish. This also motivates you along your path to achieving your larger goal. Failure doesn’t occur when you don’t achieve your goal, failure is when you stop trying! Adjust your goals if necessary, be realistic with yourself, give yourself enough time to achieve it, make your goal measurable so you know that you are getting closer to success, and make your goal specific enough that you know what you want and can go out and get it!
Contrary to popular belief, setting goals related to health and wellness is easy. Sticking to them is where things get difficult. Don’t choose to do it because of the ‘trip’ you have coming up, don’t choose to do it because of that event you will be attending. Do it for YOU! Do it because you want to be the healthiest you that you can be.
Visit your healthcare provider regularly and be involved in your own healthcare so that you can take pride in your healthy choices. So instead of making a New Year’s resolution this year, make it a New Year’s REVOLUTION and set goals that will change your life forever, not just for the first few weeks in January!
I wish you the happiest and healthiest in 2015. Now get up, get out and make some long-lasting healthy changes!