I can’t lie. In recent years, I have been more likely to write about why I’m not a fan of New Year’s weight-loss resolutions, or any fitness fads for that matter, and why, statistically, many will not follow through.
While fitness fads are still just wretched as far as I’m concerned, a New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be either of those things.
Although it’s true that only about eight percent of all people who set New Year’s resolutions are successful in achieving them, this year, instead of accepting that, I prefer to take steps to change it. After all, eight percent, especially when it comes to health and fitness, is plainly unacceptable.
Also, according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, apparently those that explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all.
First, I’d like to point out that anyone reading this has the potential to follow through with any reasonable fitness goal. There is nothing superhuman about those that have achieved these things before you — just plain old fashioned dedication and hard work, maybe throw in a bit of knowhow (of which you can gain the knowledge). While I’m not ignoring that fact that it will be more difficult for some than others, it must be acknowledged that one way or another, it is possible.
So the first step in going after your resolution is figuring out what is attainable. For that, I highly recommend you do your research well. Unfortunately, for each person, that will be a bit different. On top of that, you have the confusion of distinguishing between what is possible and what is desirable.
Although this topic is an entire article in and of its own, I will say you are better off with somewhat slower progress than something too fast. Although anyone can put themselves on a starvation diet or exercise too much and with enough willpower lose a good amount of weight quickly, that, unfortunately, will come at the cost of your metabolism (meaning you are highly unlikely to maintain the weight-loss) as well as your immune system, frequently your reproductive system, muscle loss, and your health in general. A good (note: general) rule of thumb is a weight loss of about two to three pounds per week. More if you have more to lose, less if you are lifting weights (because of added muscle).
Next, find out how you can incorporate resistance training into your plan. Although it may make the actual numbers on the scale go down a bit slower, it is going to skyrocket your actual fat-loss as well as produce many other desirable health and fitness benefits.
Which segues nicely to my next useful tip; do not obsess over the scale. The scale only measures your weight, not your muscle, not your fat, your water, or any other part of your body. You do not wear your weight on a T-shirt and the last time I checked fat-loss was the actual goal of weight loss. Often, you will see the scale stay exactly the same despite make some really great progress. Take for example the newcomer to the gym who just started working out. This person may have gained five pounds in muscle and water (which is good) and lost five pounds of fat, meaning a 10-pound change. The scale, unfortunately, will show nothing. This is the point where many get frustrated and give up and don’t even realize how wonderfully they are progressing! Eventually, the scale will go down, but don’t be frustrated when it doesn’t happen right away.
Finally, don’t give up. It takes several weeks or more of serious hard work and dedication to notice even the smallest changes. That doesn’t mean nothing is happening within that time, but that it just hasn’t added up enough for you to see. You need to stick to your plan for at least three to four weeks before you decide it’s not working and at that point, don’t give up, change it and keep going.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to make 2014 your fittest year yet. Remember, you may not succeed right away or do everything perfectly, but what counts is how you recover and what you do next. How would your body change if you set a resolution and didn’t give up on it no matter what? Try it and see.
Amanda May is a Factor X Fitness personal trainer. Reach her at AmandaMayFit@Gmail.com and Instagram.com/AmandaMayFit.