It’s Resolution Season again!
The gym at the hospital where I work is bustling – just like it is every year at this time. In six weeks, it’ll be back to it’s usual operating status.
Everyone looks to the New Year’s Resolution as a sure fire way to change their life, but it’s hard, and few people stick with it. The number one resolution for nearly everyone I talk to?
GET IN SHAPE!
Here are some tips to actually accomplish this this year, now that we’re a week in and your resolve is flagging:
1. Set a goal.
Getting in shape is a lousy goal. There’s no end game. Purists will tell you that fitness has no finish line, and that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but that’s a load of crap. Double fudge brownies taste better than just about anything. I’d suggest a functional goal. Pick a new best time to finish a charity 5k, or for that matter, to complete a charity 5k. Maybe it’s go sliding with the kids and not have to stop and suck wind. Maybe it’s climb Mt. Katahdin (here in Maine) and not limp for a week afterwards. Specific motivation goes a long way.
I can run 3 miles at an easy jog in 30 minutes. No big deal. My own personal goal is to finish a 5k (3.1 miles) in 25 flat. You’ll notice that it has everything a good goal needs: achievable, specific, measurable.
2. Get some stuff.
What better excuse to buy some new equipment. If poundage is your goal, get the Ozeri floor scale. It’s got a sleek design, holds up to 400 pounds, and features a combo- needle dial/large digital readout. It reports in either pounds or kilograms. I got mine before Christmas, and with three kids who want to weigh themselves 4-5 times/day, I can honestly say that it holds up. I’ve never been a big fan of stripping down in public, and this gives me the chance to weigh myself in the privacy of my own bathroom, au naturale. A downside: it takes away the “these must be my 10 pound jeans” excuse. Get yours at amazon.com by clicking this link. **I should mention that I received my scale in exchange for a review, but that my opinion is unbiased. I really like this scale.
3. Get “smart”
Now that I’ve gotten on the smart phone bandwagon, I’ve picked up some apps that are helping me along the way.
a. My Fitness Pal. A free app, this lets you select an age, weight, activity level and goal, and then creates for you a target for calorie intake. You can add foods from their extensive lists, or scan the barcode directly from the package. It’s pretty fantastic.
b. Map My Walk. Another freebie, this uses your phone’s built-in GPS to help you determine how far and how fast you’ve just walked.
c. Pandora. Free internet radio, with customizable stations. They’ve got some excellent workout stations. 80’s cardio is my new favorite.
4. Exercise like a pro.
If you chose weights, which so many of us do, keep in mind that muscles grow faster than tendons and ligaments tighten. Start slowly, and gradually build up your body’s weight resistance over time. If you head out of the gate too quickly, you’ll be sidelined by an injury, which will keep you out of the gym, and quite possibly deter you from going back.
Focus on multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises that mimic real-life work. Don’t barge into the gym and start with seated bicep curls. That’s not real life. It’s certainly not smart exercising, starting with a small muscle group, and isolating it.
My exercise hero, Arnold, says that there are six basic exercises; everything else is fluff: squats, bench press, dead lifts, pull ups, dips, and abs. I prefer planks over crunches – there’s less chance of injury.
While I’m not a big Crossfit fan, there site does have excellent videos on proper form and technique. Crossfit.com
5. Have fun.
I can’t think of many things more boring that running in place on a treadmill, staring at the distance read out. Incorporate some fun into your workout. Join an intramural basketball league, attend a Zumba class, or maybe a spin class. Water aerobics is an excellent way to get fit, with the added bonus of being in the water during the long winter months. Take up ballroom dancing. The point is, if you’re having fun, you’re less likely to think of exercise as work, and if you join a group, the socialization alone can keep you coming back.