Resolve to set healthy goals
Most everybody has probably done it at some point in their lifetime.
The holidays have come around and the time has come where you look at yourself in the mirror and vow a New Year’s resolution to get in shape.
It seems a cultural norm to fall into this yearly promise to better one’s self.
However, resolutions can sometimes be difficult for whatever the reason to maintain. Many of us get halfway into January before falling off that betterment wagon into old habits, but that’s not to say that the New Year’s resolution isn’t the place to kick off a healthier trend in your life.
“I think resolutions are a great kick off point, just because they feed into the initial motivation,” said the YMCA’s Director of Healthy Living Katie Bielefeld. “It’s just about finding something that continues to motivate that person past that jumpoff. I think there’s a place for resolutions, but I don’t think resolutions are the answer to somebody getting healthy.”
Getting healthy requires work and planning and it’s the planning that should be one of the first places you start.
“I would say get with somebody that’s got a plan and find an accountability to that plan,” Bielefeld said. “I guess my feelings are — jump in, start doing something. Sometimes people over-think things too much and so that causes them to just stop instead of doing something, even if it’s not 100 percent correct or to the plan. As long as it’s something, I feel that’s better than just waiting to figure it out.”
Using a resolution as a jumpoff point is a good start to launch of a plan of action, but that action requires a plan. On the food front, Hy-Vee dietitian Megan Groh also suggests the resolution is an ideal starting line, but with moderation.
“I think if you ease into it you kind of set yourself up,” Groh said. “When you don’t ease into it and you fall off the bandwagon, I think you tend to feel more guilty and you’re more likely to fall back into old habits more easily.”
Like Bielefeld, Groh finds the idea of a plan can set a person on the right path.
“I think it’s a great idea to write down a plan, because you need to think about what’s going to happen if I don’t stick to my plan,” she said. “How am I going to get back on track?’”
The key then is to use resolutions as a jumping off point and moving ahead with the expectations that maybe things won’t go according to plan — and according to the experts, that’s okay.
So long as you keep moving forward.
“What I think is important to understand is that you don’t necessarily have to stay on track 100 percent,” Groh said. “Take food specifically. Anticipate that you will fail and that’s okay. Knowing that is going to help you sustain your goal.”
The same goes with exercise. Even if you don’t make a set goal, continue pushing forward.
“Progress is progress,” Bielefeld said. “It maybe wasn’t in the same time frame, but it’s another jumping off point. We’ve got to this point, let’s move forward again. Eventually they are going to hit that goal.”
The YMCA’s Katie Bielefeld and Hy-Vee’s Megan Groh, each took three common resolutions from the vantage point of their professions to come up with ways to meet goals set in the pursuit of making those resolutions a reality.
•Healthy snacking is actually good for you. Snacking is a great pick-me-up, and it provides an opportunity to include all the important food groups in your diet. Snacking also can keep you from overeating at your next meal. Think protein and fiber to help with satiety. Winning snack combination: Greek yogurt plus blueberries.
•Make strength training a priority in your workouts. Your body requires more calories to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat. Building muscle naturally increases the amount of calories your body will burn each day. Try incorporating some compound lifts into your weekly workout routine like pull-ups, bench press, squats, overhead press, dips and dead lifts. Keep in mind, lifting requires knowledge and practice of correct form to not only protect yourself, but to maximize the potential benefits of the lift. Never be afraid to ask for a spot, self-check form in mirrors, or schedule a workout or two with a Certified Trainer to learn the moves with correct form and cueing.
Enjoy life to the fullest
•Many forms of social gatherings are organized around food, as food is a way people are often able to connect. Eating can be both nutritious and enjoyable. Guacamole is an excellent choice for social gatherings. Made from avocados, guacamole is high in monounsaturated fats which may help to lower blood cholesterol. You can dip the guacamole with tortilla chips, baked chips or even vegetables like carrots, jicama and peppers.
•Group workouts are an excellent way to make new friends, find accountability and camaraderie among others with similar fitness goals and preferences. Try a new class! You’ll probably be surprised to find out just how excited people are to see new faces join their workout circles. Group exercise instructors are well prepared to make your experience one that is enjoyable. Show up and they’ll make sure you’re we’ll taken care of. If you’re unsure what to expect, call the facility and plan to meet the instructor before class to educate you on the equipment, and moves you’ll see during their workout.
Stay fit and healthy
•In the world of human health, magnesium is a key nutrient for many vital functions in the body. Deficiency of this mineral is thought to be linked to more than 20 disease conditions. Despite this importance, it’s estimated that more than 80 percent of Americans do not get enough in their daily diet. Sprinkling wheat germ, sunflower seeds and your favorite fruit on yogurt or hot cereal is a great way to start the day with a magnesium boost.
•Plan for progress. As tempting as it may be to jump into a new workout routine, work to complete fatigue and leave the gym dripping in sweat and walking on Jell-O legs to your car, err on the side of moderation. Track the work you do, and label it from 1-10 based on how hard you feel you’re working. We call this the Rate of Perceived Exertion. To begin, work to maintain an RPE of 5-7 for your first weeks. Slowly begin to increase that to 6-8,9 or even 10 for some exercises as your body acclimates to the new stress. By planning for progress, working to progressively increase the intensity, you’ll reduce the chances of muscle soreness, illness or injury that could ultimately set you back if you are stuck recovering longer than intended. My motto: Go for habit, then go hard!