Tips for helping you sticking to your New Year‘s Resolution
Regardless if you are looking to lose 10 pounds, add muscle mass, or tone your butt; sticking to a New Year’s Resolution that is fitness related is a challenge. It seems that the first of the year the RPAC is full to the brim with students working on sticking to their resolution, but time weeds out the weak and when March rolls around, the RPAC transforms back to a safe haven for the dedicated.
And dedication is the key. If you want to stick to your resolution, you need to plan, execute, and stay committed. But what if your resolution is impossible? If your resolution is unattainable, it’s likely you will just give up. I mean, what’s the point of chasing a goal that can’t be reached?
That’s where we come in.
We had the chance to chat with Becca Moorhead, a fourth-year in exercise science and an instructor of numerous fitness classes around Columbus, to shine a light on New Year’s Resolutions and suggestions for achieving that bod you so long for.
“I want to lose 25 pounds by the start of next year.” Long-term weight loss is always a battle, but this goal is definitely attainable. A projected weight loss of about a pound a week is a reasonable goal. Since a year has 52 weeks in it, you should be able to reach this goal in a year. Focusing on an overall lifestyle change and creating balanced and sustainable fitness goals is a great place to start. Be sure to include both resistance and cardio training in any sort of weight loss or workout regimen. In addition, it is important to note that the number on the scale is not always indicative of fat loss. Water weight can cause weight to fluctuate, and sometimes weight loss is not due to fat loss. Instead of focusing on just weight, you may want to consider how your clothes fit and how you feel.
“I found a new workout routine online and it says I can make my butt look more firm after just six weeks.” Most programs such as that described above typically claim to spot-reduce. The issue with this claim is that spot-reduction of fat is not truly possible. Overall fat-loss is possible through a caloric deficit. If this program accelerates your heart rate enough to increase calorie burn, then fat loss is possible. In addition, focusing on just one muscle group will not help with overall health and strength. A resistance training program ideally would focus on all muscle groups in order to have total-body strength.
“I need to lose 10 pounds by Spring Break so I can have an awesome beach bod.” Losing weight can definitely be possible for many people, but I tend to encourage a focus not on losing weight, but instead on gaining something. To me, it is all about the mindset. Instead of saying “I’d like to lose ____ pounds”, I would say “I’d like to gain confidence” or “I’d like to gain strength and empowerment”. The shift here is that you are not bashing where you are now, but looking towards where you can be. With that being said, weight loss programs need to be slow and steady for health to remain a priority. A focus on eating whole foods and exercising 3 or more times per week can often help with sustainable weight loss.
“I want to add muscle mass so I’m going to start lifting more often.” Weight training is a great way to add on muscle mass. When building a weight-training program it is important that the full body is worked. Muscles take 24-48 hours to repair, so rotating worked body parts is ideal for recovery. To ensure you are getting the results from the hard work you put in, you should watch your nutrition, as well. After anaerobic (think: resistance) training, you need to replenish both muscle glycogen and protein. Glycogen is a fancy word for the carbohydrates your body stores in your muscles. This must be replenished in order for your body to maintain peak performance. Proteins are the building blocks of muscles, so consuming protein post-workout is also important for repairs.
“If I concentrate on lifting and cardio, I can eat whatever I want and still lose weight.” Generally speaking, weight loss is only about caloric deficit. This means, to lose weight you must consume less calories than you use. Your body uses calories to survive (basal metabolic rate), and you also use calories for any sort of movement you do (walking, running, exercising, etc). Working out adds to calories exerted, but nutrition is key for helping your body run optimally. Because of this, exercise and nutrition are both equally important for weight loss. To repair after workouts, the body needs carbohydrates and proteins. To maintain energy levels, balanced meals are also important. Nobody wants to hear it, but vegetables are good for you!
“I’ll simply just work out more.” Working out is always wonderful to prioritize. However, a very general goal is not one that is often kept. When goal-setting, it is a good idea to set a goal using the acronym SMART. This stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Oriented. Using this acronym you address not only where you are right now, but where you would like to be. For example, if you have not worked out in about 6 months, a realistic and measurable goal would be to work out about 3 times a week at a moderate intensity. To make this more specific, you could say you will attend 3 group fitness classes. If this seems attainable for you, set this goal to be more time-oriented. For example, “This month I will attend 3 group fitness classes a week.” The more specific you are, the more likely it is you can meet your goals. Another important note is that you never want to over-train. Most people do not reach this point, however some people are very driven to push their bodies to the edge.
“If I go vegan, I don’t have to workout in order to lose weight.” While there are many benefits to starting a plant-based diet such as weight-loss and reduction in carbon footprint, nutrition is just one component of overall health and fitness. If veganism is something you want to prioritize, focus on changing this habit first. Lifestyle changes should be step-by-step for longevity. Once you have a handle on that, exercising a minimum of 30 minutes a day will help you reach your weight loss goals. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week for adults.
“I’m going to do a full body cleanse to clean out all the toxins in my body that are causing me to be lethargic.” Generally speaking, cleanses are a waste of time and money. If you have a functioning liver and kidneys, there is no technical need for a cleanse. Instead, focus on adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. The vitamins and minerals will help your body function optimally, and you will feel better in no time!
“If I only eat one meal a day, I’ll lose weight even quicker.” Eating one meal a day will drastically cut your calories, yes, but it will also drastically cut your energy. A huge drop in calories signals to your body that something is wrong. There is a lowering in your metabolism in response to this signal. Over a long period of time, drastic reduction in calories can put your body in starvation mode. Once this occurs, calories consumed are much more easily stored as fat, since your body thinks you won’t be feeding it any time soon. In addition, losing weight quickly is not sustainable, nor optimal for health.
“I think if I cut out carbs I can lose weight quicker.” This black-and-white villainization of carbohydrates is harmful for two reasons. First, carbs are your body’s preferred energy source, plain and simple. While the body can also utilize fat stores for energy, carbs are the easiest way for your body to operate optimally. Second, cutting out any one macronutrient (carbs, fats, proteins) is not sustainable. A balanced diet has all three of these macronutrients. If you are looking to improve your sources of carbohydrates, remember that fruits and vegetables are carb sources. These, as well as whole grains, beans, legumes, and tubers (potatoes), are wonderful energy sources that also provide you with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
“The main reason I don’t work out is because I don’t have time in my busy schedule.” When it comes down to it, time management is all about priorities. If you want to make your health a priority, you should be able to carve out a little bit of time each day. Most people don’t realize that you can accumulate exercise over time throughout the day and still reap benefits. Ten minutes is the minimum to achieve the health benefits associated with fitness and cardio. A short burst of 10 minutes 3 times a day adds up to the 30 minutes recommended for adults. Doing so 5 times a week adds up to the 150 minutes recommended by ACSM. Exercise can also be a social event. If you are interested in starting an exercise program, something such as a group fitness class can be a way to have fun with friends and also gain some health benefits.
Becca Moorhead is not a certified dietitian and these general suggestions are just that; suggestions. While no one has the perfect answer to helping you with your New Year’s Resolution and no fitness regime is perfect for everybody, Becca is an outstanding source for tips, tricks, and recommendations. If you are searching for more dietary advice, Becca recommends speaking with a nutrition professional.