It’s creeping up on us again, isn’t it? There are just a few little squares left on the calendar, counting down to that morning when we toss out that calendar marked with the birthdays, doctor’s appointments, dance recitals, and baseball games from the past twelve months, and move on to one containing fresh, blank pages. Unadulterated squares, holding the promise of busy and overwhelming, memory-making days to come.
This is generally the time when we look over those calendar pages and figure out when we’re going to fit in those things that are important to us. Will we travel to visit family over the summer? Can we make it to the high school reunion? When should we have Matthew’s birthday party? We try to fill in the commitments we know about.
This is also the time when we feel obligated to come up with “New Year’s Resolutions.” It’ll be the buzz word beginning December 27th, after we’ve exhausted the discussion about post-Christmas gifts being returned to stores. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Does anyone keep their resolutions? Typically, I’ve resolved to not make any New Year’s Resolutions. And for the most part, I’ve done pretty well and keep that one.
Most popular among the wishes folks make for themselves as they turn the calendar page, are fitness-related ambitions. They might be as simple as wanting to lose weight, run a 5k or half-marathon, or to eat better. The gym industry rakes in the one-year contracted memberships in January. Those of us who go the gym regularly know that treadmills are in high demand in January, through about the middle of February. Then it tapers off, and many of the newbies become strangers again for the next 10 months. You see, most people have great intentions when they create their lists of resolutions. However, most don’t take the next step: creating a plan.
This year, if you want to improve your fitness, skip the resolution, and construct a plan.
Make it Reasonable
Losing weight is a great goal. But how much weight? Over what amount of time?
A good rule of thumb is to start with 10% of your current weight. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, your initial weight loss goal will be 18 pounds. That goal will help you realistically determine how quickly you can expect that weight to come off. Unless you’re a Biggest Loser contestant, you should plan to safely lose 2 pounds a week. Knowing you’re going to have a few off weeks, give yourself at least 2 extra weeks. Losing 18 pounds should take at least 10 weeks– if you want to keep it off, that is. You can starve yourself and do otherwise unhealthy things to get it off more quickly, but chances are it’ll come right back. There’s no point torturing yourself.
Once you lose that initial 10%, give yourself a couple of weeks to sustain it. You may still lose during that time, but you’re not pushing for it. Then create another 10% goal. Using the same initial start weight, if you start out at 180 pounds and lose 18, you’re down to 162. Another 10% would have you losing 16 pounds, getting down to 146. That might be your final goal. You can get there!
Make it Thorough
It’s not enough to just establish a weight loss goal. You need to map out a strategy to get there. Are you going to exercise? How often? Where? When? I always print out the group fitness schedule for my local YMCA. I highlight the classes I can fit into my schedule, and I schedule them into my day. Gym two days a week, running in the neighborhood two days a week.
Losing weight isn’t just about fitness. Diet is a huge part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Figure out what will be your weight loss strategy. Are you going to count points? Calories? Are you going to adopt a no-carb diet? Go vegetarian? Do smoothies? Research some difference diet plans and pick the one you think you can stick with. I love the idea of a smoothie diet, but I like to actually chew food, so I can’t sustain that. Maybe you love bread, but you do some research and decide that you could benefit from eliminating it from your diet. My mom is full-on doing the Paleo thing. Full. On. She listens to Paleo podcasts, reads blogs, mulls over cookbooks, and regularly reminds me that eggs are awesome. She loves bread, but she jumped in with both feet, and is loving the results. Do the research, map out a strategy, and start your diet fully equipped for success.
Make it Fit
Busy mamas — I know how hard it can be to work fitness into a busy day. It’s great that gyms have child care, but that’s a lot of times where my tweedles would get sick. (Can I just rant for a minute? If you’re little one has sniffles, a fever, or has thrown up in the past 24 hours, please skip your workout and save me from having to skip mine for a week while I take care of a sick tweedle. It’s just common sense.)
One of my favorite things to do when my kids were little was to take them to a playground and let them play on the play structure. I wore my workout clothes and running shoes, and would walk laps around the play structure. Everyone once in a while my middle son would want to race me, and so we would run a couple of laps around the play structure. In fitness speak we call these intervals. He just thought he was beating mom in a race, but he was actually challenging my workout.
I love playing catch with my boys. If you’re doing it right, you’ll work out your upper thighs and your glutes. True story. Even doing simple things like laying on your back and lifting them up on your feet so they get that airplane effect. These are things my boys love doing, and they really do work as resistance exercises. Plus, they double as memory-makers for your kids.
Make it Fun
Barbara had spent years plodding along on a treadmill. She was bored to death, but this was what you do to lose weight, right? Walk and run on a treadmill? And yet, she wasn’t losing weight. Then a friend dragged her along to a spinning class. Spinning is a group stationary bike class. Barbara was not a bike rider, had no interest in riding bikes, and couldn’t imagine what benefit she could gain from spinning. Until she tried it. She loved it. Couldn’t get enough. The more she spinned, the stronger she became. And the weight almost literally melted off of her body.
Misty loved running. She even got her kids running with her. One day while her son was at soccer practice, an instructor from a local Tae Kwon Do school grabbed a bunch of moms and gave them a free lesson right there on the sidelines. She was hooked. That was about 1 year ago. She’s now a purple belt. I don’t know what that means, but I’m impressed.
Tara was never much of one for exercise. She had never really had issues with her weight, but she did think it would be nice to have a little muscle tone. One day she took a hot yoga class, having never done yoga before. She so loved the way it made her feel, that within a year she was a certified yoga instructor, teaching Christ-centered yoga classes at a local studio.
Don’t do the things you think you’re supposed to do for fitness. Find something you enjoy. Exercise will seem a lot less like work, and lot more like fun. If it’s something your family can do together (and many, many fitness activities can be enjoyed by a range of ages), get the whole family involved.
Let’s make it happen!
What are your health and fitness goals for 2014? Share your ideas and how you’ve worked fitness into your busy lifestyle.