With the holiday season finally over, thoughts turn to "getting back on track". That process includes the perennial "going on a diet" and "getting back into shape". The reality is that many resolutions are made and almost just as many are broken within the first three or four weeks of the year.
The purpose of this four part series is to provide a step by step, simple outline by which to approach the process of attaining sensible fitness and an improved appearance.
A positive, reasonable attitude and outlook are primary components for long term successful re-conditioning programs. On that note, there is one distinct advantage that the holidays provide regarding the poor shape in which they leave many of us. Initially, almost ANY tightening of the unbridled holiday dietary habits result in weight and fat loss. In addition, even the most conservative exercise programs are a productive step in the right direction compared to the total abandonment (from physical activity) which the holidays seem to instigate in many of us.
The first step in the "recovery" process is the organization of a simple, feasible and conservative regimen of nutrition and exercise. Most New Year's fitness resolutions fail because they are too severe and impractical. Small commitments of time and subtle changes in diet and exercise habits are all that are required in order to stimulate the body to start to turn the process around. Very few individuals are going to completely stop ALL of their less than stellar nutritional habits immediately and just as few are going to wake up early every morning in January and begin to train like Rocky.
It is much more likely that most people can reduce junk-food, dessert-type snacks (relative to their holiday habits) and incorporate a 3 day per week walking or cycling program. That's a more reasonable plan and it is ALL that is required in order to STOP the weight gain and halt the fitness reconditioning. Once that reversal of conditioning has been halted then movement or progress in the right direction can continue in a steady manner.
In order to maintain some objective measure of the progress of any fitness regimen it is suggested that some basic measurements be established as a baseline for future comparison. Some of the simplest ideas include the following: Take a tape measure and obtain readings on waist and hip measurements (women might want to include their thighs). Be careful to measure these body parts with the same tension and in the exact same spot on the area. Another way to grossly calculate fat reduction is to put on a snug pair of pants or jeans (maybe even a pair that you can't fasten in the beginning). Every week or two, new measurements can be taken and recorded.
Next, prepare the simplest program with which you feel comfortable. For example: Commit to walk for at least 15 minutes, Monday, Wednesday and Friday after you come home from work (or ride your stationary cycle). You can walk around the block, in the Mall or at a fitness center if you belong to one. If you miss a day, make-up the session the NEXT day. If you feel like doing a little more, it's O.K. but DON'T overdue it! In fact, try to keep yourself in check. Leave a little something for the next workout. Keep yourself eager.
With regard to your nutritional adjustments: Write down in general terms what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next week. Don't forget to add a few snacks and some treats but regulate them and keep them isolated to specific times or events. Try to include a few vegetable, salads and fruits into your supplemental eating. If you have social engagements planned, try to cut back slightly on intake the day before and the day of (before) the event. ORGANIZE yourself so that you can start to control your lifestyle.
If a total weekly dietary commitment seems too severe, plan to "cut-back" on Monday, Wednesday and Friday the first week or two. Remember only SMALL adjustments in your lifestyle are necessary to change the direction of your health, fitness and appearance. Be patient, be consistent and remember that everyone slips once in a while. Every day is an opportunity to create some change. Yesterday is PAST. Today is the only thing with which we must concern ourselves!