A New Year can mean a new fit, trim or smoke free you
1. Year of the fit body
There are generally two types of people who make a resolution to exercise more and get in shape.
There are those who need to lose weight, and then there are those lucky ones who don’t actually need to lose weight, but want to be fitter and improve their physical condition.
Whichever category, the issues of finding the time, commitment and motivation to begin and stay with an exercise campaign are similar.
New Year’s is a great time to get active. In Australia the weather is fine for months and you can usually get a better deal on a gym membership. Still many gym passes are going idle as soon as February.
So why is this case? Research suggests this type of life change requires more planning than most people give it.
As with weight loss, to get fit you need to set specific goals. Don’t leave it opened ended. Say, ‘I’m going to do 150 minutes of cardio workouts each week’ or ‘I will aim to run five kilometres three times a week.’
Set your goal and then make a specific plan of action to achieve that goal. Set a weekly plan in place.
For the average person a successful fitness program consists of exercises to work the whole body. You will need cardio to improve the function of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Weight-bearing exercises enhances the health of bones, muscles, joints and connective tissues.
To work, exercises need to be done just outside your comfort zone which is where many people’s hopes fall down due to them being out of shape or just inconsistent.
This is where a plan comes in handy. Assess where you are now and then break your fitness objectives into achievable goals.
To choose activities to get you to these goals you need to consider the kind of person you are and what you like to do.
Do you like the gym or are one who loves team sports? If you’re a bit of a loner you might prefer to jog or walk around the neighbourhood or set-up a home gym.
Apparently it doesn’t matter so long as your chosen exercise increases your bodies demand for oxygen.
Weight bearing exercise doesn’t need to be complicated either as it can involve walking, jogging, yoga, martial arts, push-ups and free weights. You will see best benefits if you focus on the larger muscle groups in the trunk, thighs, chest, back and abdomen.
If you are still unsure as to what exercises you should do seek help. Sometimes just a couple of sessions with a personal trainer are all you need to set you on the right track.
Whatever you choose remember to start slow and gradually progress. Many a resolution has been thwarted due to injury when people try to do too much too soon.
2. The weightiest resolution
Counting for almost a quarter of all New Year resolutions is the evergreen, ever difficult, weight loss.
What starts with determination often lasts but a few days, or at most a few weeks, when people fall back into unhealthy eating habits and routines.
With only eight per cent of all people who resolve to lose weight doing so to their satisfaction, there is definitely room for improvement here.
Tip the scales for success
Make measurable goals such as I would like to lose one kilogram a week for 10 weeks until I reach my weight loss goal. Or it can be I want to lose weight until I fit back into my favourite pair of pants which is also measurable. Whatever your goal is make sure it is attainable.
Try an holistic approach by including other goals such as striving for more energy, increased stamina, and better sleep.
Make sure you prepare properly. The cleanse will involve clearing out all unhealthy food from the cupboards and fridge. This is anything you find hard to resist such as bags of chips, biscuits and other high calorie, low nutrient food.
Plan ahead and make sure you know what you will eat for the next week. Shop accordingly for healthy options such as fruit and oats for breakfast and a lean protein with lots of salad and vegetables for lunch and dinner.
Commit yourself 100 per cent by writing it down. Be specific. Write something like ‘I will track my calories each day and eschew unhealthy food on my course to be leaner.’ Believe in your ability to do what needs to be done and have confidence and pride in what you are starting for yourself.
Make sure your new way of eating is sustainable by not making it too harsh. Don’t cut entire food groups, but rather aim for moderation in everything.
Plan rewards for yourself to keep you going. This can be to buy a new dress or outfit or just to go out to a special restaurant. Just make sure it is something you really want.
Small weekly rewards work too. You could promise yourself a trip to the movies, a manicure, pedicure or massage to keep you on track.
Consistency of effort cannot be underrated when it comes to weight loss. It is more sustainable to eat well the majority of the time with a few cheats here and there rather than to try and stick to your plan always.
Remember also that it is not just about the scales, but rather developing healthier habits. Look at your body fat, waist circumference and even stress management and sleeping patterns.
The goal is over time to try and re-frame your approach to eating entirely. Don’t talk about food you should or shouldn’t eat and don’t just eat because you are bored or others around you are eating. Take charge of what you put in your mouth.
3. Break free from smoking
IT’s 2016 and we’ve known for a long time there are no benefits whatsoever from smoking cigarettes. We know it harms your health, is a major contributor to lung cancer as well as making your teeth yellow and your clothes and breath smell bad.
Non-smokers can’t stand it and it is an incredibly expensive habit to boot. Many people realise these drawbacks and desire to quit smoking which they often attempt as a New Year’s resolution.
Statistically only about 10 per cent of those who make the resolution to quit are smoke free six months later.
Just making a resolution to quit is not nearly enough as smoking is a chemical addiction that has smokers craving their next hit of nicotine.
As far as quitting goes, knowledge is power and becoming smarter than your addiction is strong, leads to success.
Quitting cold turkey might sound hard, but it is as good a way as any and the health benefits are immediate.
Dealing with withdrawal
The first 72-hours of nicotine withdrawal are the hardest. Withdrawal peaks by day three and two to three weeks after that the brain re-adjusts to function without it.
Specific times, locations, activities, people or emotions will spark an expectation in the subconscious mind for a new supply of nicotine so be aware of what your vulnerabilities are.
Tips for success
Write down your motivations for quitting so when cravings hit you can reach for this list of excellent reasons.
Carry this with you as a first defence and to keep your dreams alive. Make sure you eat small healthy meals often during quitting to fuel your body properly. Alternatively though, be sure not to use food as a crutch to replace smoking as this can lead to weight gain.
Try instead to spread your normal daily calorie intake evenly throughout the day.
Smokers can feel stressed during withdrawal and readjustment. This is a good time to practice slow, deep breathing or even meditation if you know how.
Don’t think in terms of quitting forever. Instead make it manageable with a mantra such as ‘one day at a time.’
Celebrate each challenge you overcome, each part of life reclaimed and each day of freedom and healing.
Within two weeks you should begin to see that triggers, or things you did in the grip of your nicotine addiction, can be done comfortably without it.
Reward yourself by putting aside the money that you would have spent buying cigarettes and treat yourself to something you really want after a week, month or year.
Finally, never give up. If you relapse regather your resolve and try again until you are successful.