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    « New Article Up! | Main | When do I do cardio? When do I lift weights? »

    This Year I Resolve....

    It's coming up on that time of year again, when massess of people will make promises to themselves (and occasionally to others) that they will indeed lose weight this year.  This is the time of year when gym memberships experience tremendous growth, while those of us who work out on a regular basis begin to experience a bit of competition for the otherwise vacant elliptical trainers and treadmills.

    The pattern is very predictable: gung-ho warriors converge on the gym and begin running their guts out.  Some of them even modify their diets - to the point of starving themselves - as a form of demonstrating just how serious they are about this commintment.  It lasts for anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the intestinal fortitude of the individual involved.

    The problem with New Year's Resolutions is that the primary reason we make them is out of a sense of tradition - everyone (it seems) makes some sort of resolution at the turn of the calendar.  There is no visceral reason involved in making the change in lifestyle that will result in trimming the fat, and the result is a failure of commitment within a month of starting.

    The logical question is this: "How do I commit to my resolution to trim the fat?"  Here are a few suggestions that will make success more likely:

    1) Discover Why You Want to Change

    Without a goal, there's no commitment.  A resolution isn't the same as setting a goal since a resolution is only a half-hearted promise to yourself to "lose weight."  In order to be successful, you have to seriously decide why it is important for you to be in better shape.  No one can give you that reason; it has to come from within.  Sit down right now with a piece of blank paper and begin to make a list of all the reasons you want to make a change for better health.  Keep writing reasons until you list one that just makes you want to cry.  Once you've reached that point, you have a reason to change that is visceral, relevant, and unforgettable.  Single that reason out - write it on a piece of paper and post it on your mirror.  Carry another copy in your pocket so that any time you're tempted to stray from your normal eating schedule you can read it and remind yourself why you're making this commitment.  Unless you have a reason (and are constantly reminded of it) the eventuality of quitting is too real.

    2) Partner Up!

    The truth of the matter is that most people who make a new year's resolution to drop fat go about the process alone.  The obvious problem here is a lack of accountability that makes skipping meals, over-eating, or skipping a workout far too easy.  When you know that there's someone who is expecting you to be at the gym for a 6:00 AM workout, you're less likely to sleep-in knowing that apologizing for letting someone down is harder than running for 30 minutes.  With the abundance of people making new year's resolutions, finding a partner shouldn't be too difficult.  If all else fails, just walk up to a friendly looking face at the gym and ask if they're interested in working together with you.  You'll be new friends working on your new selves.

    3) Indulge in Fun

    Workouts have a tendency to be ominous clouds on the horizon some days - especially for a new year's resolution newbie.  I know this personally as this evening I thought to myself, "I really don't want to go for a run."  The easy thing would have been to stay at home, but my wife (my partner in all this - see points 1 and 2 above) suggested I try something different.  At her recommendation, I went with her to her yoga class.  Now, I've never done a single cat pose or swan dive (in the yoga sense) in my entire life, but I thought, "Hey, that's something different - and it's not running."  An hour later, my body was all limbered up and more flexible.  And it was fun.  To make your workouts a little more interesting, try new things.  If you normally run, try riding the bike.  Try swimming, pilates, cardio kick-boxing, or something else that isn't the normal hum-drum trot on the treadmill.

    4) Don't Starve Yourself

    Here's where the rubber really hits the road.  People hate to be hungry - I know I sure do.  The problem with new year's resolution "dieters" is that they haven't the foggiest clue what to do with regard to their food consumption.  Too often, diet advice consists of 'eat less'.  This is a certain path to failure, because it creates cravings that can only be resisted for so long before the diet goes the way of the dinosaur.  I've written an entire article about how to eat for dropping fat, so I won't go into that here.  I'll just say this: if you are hungry at any time during your dietary regimen, you are doing it wrong.

    5) Try Competing as a Motivation

    There are a number of body-change competitions that take off at the beginning of the calendar year that are intended to pick up the new year's resolution makers.  Competing in such a challenge might be just the external motivation to keep you committed to a long-term pattern of better eating and healthy activity levels.  Many of these challenge competitions have online venues in which you can participate for further accountability, advice, and venting (for those inevitable times when we feel frustrated).  Here are a few that you can check out; see if one fits the goals that you have for yourself.

    Body-for-LIFE - one of the more popular fitness challenges and the one that got me started in fitness back in 2000.  This one is hosted by EAS, a supplement company out of Colorado.  Information on the 2009 challenge isn't on the website yet (as of 12/22/08), but the challenge has been held every year for over a decade.  I've no reason to think 2009 will be any different.
    Bill Phillips Transformation Challenge - Bill Phillips (who originally started the Body-for-LIFE challenge) started the Great American Transformation challenge a few years ago.  More recently, it's become simply 'Transformation'.  An entire online community exists with the simple goal of helping as many people as possible change their lives for a healthier future.
    The President's Challenge - if you think competing for cash and prizes isn't a very good reason to lose weight, you can do it for your country and your President.  Participants are awarded Bronze through Gold Stars for reaching certain activity goals.  Activity logs and tips/advice can also be found on the website.
    Pound for Pound Challenge - This is a challenge that we can all participate in. For every pound you lose, the sponsors donate 11¢ to Feeding AmericaTM. Check the website for details on dates and stuff. There are certain limits to the amounts you can lose (for safety reasons), but with thousands of participants nationwide, we can certainly make a difference in the lives of those who need it.

    You can also start a Fitness Challenge in your workplace.  I've seen this done for the last few years - several participants pay a nominal sum of money ($20 or so) to participate.  They choose their own exercise and eating regimens, have weekly weigh-ins (privately with an on-site health manager or in a gym with someone documenting the scale weight), and generally work in pairs as a team (there's that accountability again).  The top two teams split the money with 2/3 going to the team with the biggest percentage of weight lost and 1/3 going to the second place team.

    A Workplace Challenge has the benefit of creating friendly competition, group comraderie, and a huge sense of accountability (there's nothing like having your competing co-workers jibbing you about eating a burger for lunch).

    The resolution to drop fat and gain health doesn't have to be painful, daunting, or overwhelming.  Take a few steps now to ensure success in 2011 and beyond.

    Be well!

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    Reader Comments (1)

    Dr. Tuling attended the University of Waterloo and obtained a Bachelors of Science Degree. Thereafter, he started the doctor chiropractic stratford of chiropractic program in Toronto, at the prestigious Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), in 1993.

    August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchiropractic stratford

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