Sunday, January 6, 2008

Lifestyle Changes....Not 2008

It's January. This is the time when people start to think about their goals for the year. What are your health and fitness goals for this year? Do you want to lose weight and lower your body fat? Do you want to get stronger or improve balance? Would you like to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol?

We all start with the best of intentions in January. However, according to a study conducted by CNN in 2004, only 30% of the people that set health and fitness goals continue them into February. Only 1 in 5 will still be working towards these goals in June. That's not good!

Those of us who belong to a gym know that in the next few weeks, our favorite classes are going to be jam packed. We will have to wait for machines and "work in" with people. It's frustrating, but in the back of your mind, you know that in just a few weeks, life will be back to normal.

Why does this phenomenon happen every year? Why don't more people stick to their health related resolutions?

I will tell you why: It's because resolutions don't work! New Years resolutions do not work because most of us state a resolution without making a plan as to how to achieve this resolution. Therefore, when February rolls around and no significant progress has been made, the resolutions get ditched.

How can you make things different this year? How can you make sure that you actually achieve your goals this year? Unfortuneately, there is no fairy godmother (so I've been told)who will come by with her magic wand to help you out. Instead, you just have to change your thinking a little bit in order to be successful:

*Divide your long-term goals into short-term goals. Just say you would like to lose 30 pounds this year. A better way to look at that goal is to say, "I am going to lose 10 pounds by April 1. I will lose another 10 pounds by the end of the summer. Then I will lose the remainder of the weight by the end of the year." Losing 10 pounds seems much more manageable than losing 30 pounds.

*Create a support system. Recruit coworkers, friends, neighbors or family members to help you with your goal. Now, you are not only accountable to yourself, but to your support system as well. Join a boot camp, hire a personal trainer, buy a dog that likes to run. There is no need to do this alone.

*Create realistic goals. You may want to look like Halle Berry or a professional athlete by the end of the year, but chances are, that is not going to happen. Peyton Manning even tells us that in one of his pep talks in his commercial. Another unrealistic goal is to say that you are giving up cookies and ice cream completely. However, you can decrease your body fat by the end of the year. You can lose inches from your waist or lower your cholestoral. You can walk more or eat better and limit yourself to ice cream only on Fridays. Let's focus on goals that are attainable.

*Reward yourself. If you achieve a short term goal, go ahead and treat yourself. For example, promise yourself a new bathing suit if you lose 5 pounds by your birthday. That will give you something to look forward to and will give you a little extra motivation.

What is your lifestyle change for 2008? What have you done in years past to achieve your goals? Do you need help planning your 2008 lifestyle change?

I encourage you to post to this blog and share your questions and stories with us!