Resolve to Succeed
By Nicole Clark, R.D.
Year after year January 1st comes and goes. Along with it, thousands of New Years resolutions. For what ever reason, January first, or perhaps the rotation of the calendar, always inspires us to create new habits. Unlike the final three months of the year, there are no holidays in January where food and beverage “treats” are so prevalent! Naturally, this is a good time to start working on a new health goal. January is our first break from all the cookies, candies, pies, and bottomless glasses of eggnog in months! Now that the holiday celebrations are finally over, we are at last coming down from the glorious sugar high that has been carrying us guiltlessly for months! The sweetness of the holidays is soon followed by the bittersweet, inner guilt born from our recent three month binge on any and every treat imaginable. To be honest, mine started kicking in on Christmas day when everyone in my family gave me exercise clothes! What are you trying to say exactly?!?!?!
So here I am, and I bet I am not alone in dreading the thought of trying to get back into an exercise routine, or other such goal. If I thought aerobic exercise was hard before, I can be most certain that after three months of holidays, its going to be even harder now! Perhaps downright miserable would be a more appropriate description. Staring over always is. Despite my fear of that foreign building that now looked more like a torture chamber than a gym, I forced myself back on January 2nd. Technically, January 1st is still a holiday, right? At any rate, I confirmed that I was not alone in fearing the torture chamber. 90% of us were clearly regretting some of the decisions we made over the holidays. The other 10%, well, they must have a good poker face! As I lumbered along on the tread mill, and yes, I was indeed lumbering, I put some real thought into how I was going to possibly follow through with my New Years resolution. If I was even able to move the next day, would I consider coming back? At least I know my legs will be sore enough that getting off the couch to grab a cookie would be out of the question.
In my post holiday, exercise induced delirium, this is what I came up with. First, I have to have a goal. I use that term singularly. While I applaud my ambition to make 15 goals for this year, I feel it would be wise to save something for the next 14 years. So I am going to stick to one goal. I am also going to write this goal down. A dry erase marker and the bathroom mirror will collaborate with me so that every day I am reminded of what my goal is. If I don’t write this goal down, there is a good chance that come February, I’ll look in that mirror and say something along the lines of, “what goal?” or “goal, schmoal, let’s have chocolate and wine for Valentine’s Day!”.
With my goal in front of me every day, I have to find a way to reach it. And, my goal has to be realistic and measurable. Will I really go to the gym 6 out of 7 days of the week for an hour? No how, no way! I may wish to work up to 4-5 days, but I am going to start with 2-3 days for at least 30 minutes. You see, if I start small, it will be easier to get into a new habit. When I am used to my new habit at 2-3 days a week, then moving up to 3-4, and then 4-5 days won’t be so difficult. When we start small, we are less likely to get overwhelmed, and therefore less likely to quit. It takes a strong type A personality to jump into a lofty goal and keep with it. Most of us aren’t like that, so start with something a little more reasonable! Building up to a goal is more likely to be met with success!
Most importantly, what motivates you to make a change in your life? If you do not have a good reason to make a given change, you won’t have much to push you when times get tough. The reality is, going through any change will have tough moments. When you find your self in this moment, take a second to reflect on how far you’ve come in your change so far. It may be small, but it is a start. There is nothing wrong with feeling pride in little actions. Frankly, I had to give myself koodos for even making it to the gym. I contemplated a thousand excuses why I shouldn’t go. I went so far as to consider cleaning the oven before I should exercise. In the end, I decided that if I had gone 8 years without cleaning the oven thus far, I could certainly go another 8. When I weigh out the immediate satisfaction between pushing myself to the gym, and cleaning the oven, I will ultimately feel better after I follow through with my goal. I will however consider testing the batteries in the fire alarm when I get back. Ya know, just to make sure that oven can indeed make it another 8 years without cleaning!
There will be a week when I fail miserably in my goals. I have to accept this as part of the challenge of reaching a goal. It may just happen on that week when I can no longer put off cleaning the oven. Though I truly hope it doesn’t take me a week to clean! Be willing to let the set backs go, and pick up where you left off. It doesn’t matter if a day slipped by, a week, or even a month. Starting again, today, is as good of a day as any day, and easier than tomorrow.
At each stage I deserve a reward. When I transition from 30 minutes of exercise to 45 minutes consistently, I will do something special for myself. A day at the hot springs, a new pair of shoes, a self cleaning oven? You decide what would be special for you! Keep in mind that the ultimate reward is meeting your goal. I know that in 2 months, I will feel rewarded by my goal because I will feel stronger, and for me, that is motivation!
7 Facts You May Not Know About Exercise
1. Exercise Can Curb Your Risk of Cancer - Exercise may indirectly lower your risk by reducing excess weight / body fat and directly by reducing cancer risk. A study by Washington University School of Medicine in
2. Exercise Creates New Brain Cells - Regular exercise seems to improve relational memory, spatial memory, and executive function by increasing blood flow to the brain, improving connections and synapses between cells, and growth of new brain cells.
3. Exercise Boosts Insulin Sensitivity - Insulin hormone transports allows blood sugar to enter the body's cells, where it is used as fuel. As weight increases and age increases, our cells become less sensitive to insulin resulting in less glucose inside the cells to be used as fuel. As a consequence, blood glucose levels begin to rise which is very harmful to the body and may ultimately lead to diabetes. There a lots of studies that show ae
4. Creatine Builds Muscles - For those that want to strengthen muscles and bone, weightlifting and strength training is all you need. But some want to build even more and use the compound creatine for more strength. Actually your kidneys and liver produces about two grams of creatine a day from three amino acids that are in the protein we eat. If you are a vegetarian and want to improve your muscle strength and bone strength, you may want to consider using a pure form of creatine powder or pill. There are some side effects from creatine and creatine makes the liver and kidneys work harder so it is not for those with liver or kidney p
5. Sitting Can Kill You - "People who sit for the majority of their day have much higher mortality rates than people who don't, even if they're physically active during another part of the day" says Peter Katazmarzyk, an epidemiologist at the
6. You're Never to Old To Build Muscle - You might not look like a 20 year old again but strength training two to three times a week will result in increased muscle strength quality especially in women. Women increase muscle mass only half as much as men but women improve their strength as much as men. Why does this happen? Women improve the muscle "quality" - the amount of force they can exert per muscle unit - more than men do when they train. Women, don't be afraid to pick up those weights or add some type of strength training to your exercise program.
7. Exercise Prevents Visceral Fat Gain - We all gain visceral fat, the type of fat that accumulates around the internal organs deep inside the belly, as we age UNLESS we do something about it. That something is a regular ae
Do any of these surprise you?
- Do something you enjoy like riding a bike, walking, swimming, jazzercise. Any exercise that increases your heart rate will benefit your health.
- Link the reason to exercise to a core value (purpose) like being a healthy example to your children, being capable of traveling to see the world, or staying healthy enough to enjoy your grandchildren.
- Find an exercise partner. Knowing someone is counting on you to be there helps on the days you just don’t think you want to exercise.
- Think positive! If you focus on the negative talk about exercise you won’t enjoy it. Focus on how great it makes you feel, how much energy you have afterwards, how much better you breathe, or the great feeling of success that you did it.
- Try interval training mixed with continuous training. For intervals raise your heart rate into your 80-85% zone for 2 to 3 minutes, and then recover for 2 to 3 minutes at our 65% aerobic zone. Don’t exceed your 90% aerobic heart rate and don’t allow it to fall below your 60% aerobic heart rate. Do this for 30 minutes for a great exercise plan.
- Know your aerobic heart rate.
Age – 220 = 100% aerobic capacity
100% capacity x .85 = 85% aerobic heart rate
100% capacity x .65 = 65% aerobic heart rate
- Try out your new plan! Follow your plan for at least 90 days; most say it will take even longer to develop a strong habit with exercise.