If you’re like over two-thirds of Americans, you’re overweight (with over a third being obese).
2018 can be the year all of this changes for you, but the hardest part for many of us is the first step – deciding that you want a change, a real change for yourself when it comes to your health and fitness.
Although the methods are many (just count how many weight loss and workout TV advertisements you’ve seen in the past week) how can you best ensure your success?
Here are 5 tips to help you make sure this year is different.
1. Write down a specific realistic goal. Is it your weight? If you have a difficult time exerting much effort without breathing hard, maybe it’s to increase your aerobic capacity. If you can’t lift things like you used to be able to, sounds like you have some strength issues. It could be that you want to get into the clothes you could several years ago.
The point is, you need a specific target or targets and these need to be written down. The old adage is true, “If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there.
Tied into your goal is knowing your starting point, including your weight, measurements, aerobic capacity (e.g., how long can you walk at a 15 minutes per mile pace?).
So, now you know where you are and where you want to get in 12 months.
2. Can you do it by yourself or do you need outside help?
The truth is that most of us know what to do in terms of our weight and overall fitness…we just don’t do what we know we should do. Let me take a little pressure off – a good friend of mine once told me, “To know and not to do is not to know.”
What’s that mean? We intellectually may know that we need to reduce caloric intake to lose weight, but it’s not yet ingrained into us.
Many people with whom I speak need outside assistance to help them reach their health and fitness goals, at least initially. And, if you join with a group of others who are facing the same challenges, the encouragement in a group or team effort can help you modify your thinking and begin to see progress. And, you have others pursuing similar goals to whom you can be accountable.
3. How much are you putting in? That is, what’s your intake of food, drink, etc. And no cheating.
You may be familiar with the “11th Commandment;” “Thou shalt not fool thyself.”
In this case, it’s almost basic arithmetic. With the assumption that you know you need to eat a balanced diet, one suggestion I’ve seen is to write down everything you put into your mouth for three weeks. And if you miss a day, just keep going on. Unless you’re on some kind of special program, you may be surprised.
The point is that you have to know exactly what you’re eating so that you can begin to make adjustments.
4. When will you, on a calendar, schedule your physical activity? Health and Fitness experts agree that you need a certain amount of sustained physical activity a minimum of four to five times a week.
Whether it’s walking, running, working out at a gym or fitness facility, etc., you just have to get it done. This might be another reason for you to be part of a group effort; peer pressure can be a wonderful thing.
I learned years ago that if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. Our schedules get busy, life happens, and if it’s not on a calendar (like other important areas of our lives – work, church, etc.). Writing down on your weekly calendar when you’re going to do this is a key to success…and your changed life this year.
5. Make your eating and exercise changes a habit. It’s not about a diet, but a lifestyle change. Do things consistently for three to four weeks, with the encouragement from and accountability to others, and you’ll create a habit.
Your short-term goal is to create the eating and exercise habits you need to make so that, after a while, you don’t need to consciously think about it. Just like you do in so many other areas in your life.
One of the keys to one’s success is doing the things now that aren’t necessarily easy or convenient for the long-term payoff, in this case, a healthy and fit body.