Gooding’s Guide to Fitness
January 6, 2009 · Updated 1:50 PM
Reasonable (Not crazy) Fitness Goals
Twelve hours after a resounding round of “Auld Lang Syne” and a third helping of a mysterious concoction some random guy standing nearby called “New Year’s Punch,” you roll over to push the snooze button, only to remember that you made a resolution to run 5 miles daily ... Starting Jan 1st. Groan. The dread of that official promise, made public, has begun.
I know what you’re thinking: “Great. Another personal trainer, who’s fit already, is going to get on her soap box and tell me how to get in shape.” Well, the good news is you are right. Here’s the honest truth about my mission on the pages of this newspaper: If you hope to improve your health, and you’ve gone as far as to make a New Year’s Resolution to become more active, I want you to succeed … so keep reading.
I, too, several years in a row made New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight. Looking in the mirror on January 1st, I told myself, “I’d like to lose 20 pounds.” Twenty pounds seemed like a good, acceptable amount of weight — a nice, round number. However, this goal had no structure, had no medical basis, and had no reasonable expectation attached to the resolution itself. Most importantly, I had no plan about how to go about achieving this weight loss goal, even if it was a sound and healthy decision to lose it. Unfortunately, I had set myself up for failure.
According to CNN.com, in “one survey of 12,000 people, about 30 percent of those making resolutions say they don’t even keep them into February. And only about 1 in 5 actually stay on track for six months or more” (2004). Statistics don’t appear to be in favor of the good intentions for self care. To succeed in obtaining a healthier and more active lifestyle involves four critical steps that involve careful planning. First, you must establish realistic and obtainable goals, perhaps with the help of your family doctor, nutritionist or personal trainer. Second, you must make yourself accountable to your fitness goal. Third, you must recruit supportive friends and family to support you. Last (whew.), you must think ahead and plan for pitfalls that will arise along the way. For the next four weeks, I will focus on these four critical steps to succeeding with your New Year’s Resolution goals.
This week, I urge you to create, or restructure, a reasonable New Year’s Resolution goal — one that is both obtainable and your success is measurable. When establishing obtainable and reasonable fitness goals, consider your present level of fitness, your allowable time, and consider different types of activities you enjoy.
Designing a Fitness Resolution that is appropriate for your present level of fitness is of paramount importance. Are you currently sedentary? If yes, start slowly and make it a goal to move your body 15-20 minutes a day. If you have heart, respiratory, or other serious health issues, be sure to check with your doctor before engaging in vigorous activity. For those of you who have exercise experience but are looking to increase your level of fitness, consider shaking it up a bit: take a kick-boxing class, yoga class, or set a long-term fitness goal to walk or run a half marathon. You might prefer to have a doctor or trainer help you set a reasonable overall goal.
To maintain your exercise routines, you must commit a reasonable amount of time to this goal. Americans are busy people, and have many responsibilities to juggle. Determining to run five miles a day when you reasonably have 20 minutes to exercise isn’t a resolution that will fit easily into your life. Create a list of all your responsibilities, and plan definite times for exercise. Allow this time to be a priority in your life. Consider it as time to yourself, a chance to unwind and decrease stress, a way to boost your energy and your mood.
If you are going to increase your activity level and your present state of fitness, select activities you enjoy. Running, walking and swimming can be inexpensive ways to get exercise, and if you enjoy doing them, great. If you enjoy dancing, consider taking a dance course through The Marysville or Arlington Parks and Recreation Departments; or if hiking is your interest, search out a local hiking club. In addition to finding an activity you enjoy, try to make your fitness sessions as comfortable as possible. Invest in good shoes, comfortable clothing, and good music to keep you “pumped up.” Studies show that people who listen to music during workouts exercise more often and for longer amounts of time. Try it.
Finally, with regards to setting obtainable fitness goals, expect good things, and be kind to yourself. This week, I challenge you to analyze your New Year’s Resolution fitness goal. Consider if it fits into your lifestyle with regards to your present level of fitness, available time, and interests. If not, reconsider the goal to ensure it is both reasonable and obtainable.
Look for my column next week which will focus on maintaining accountability to your New Year’s Resolution fitness goals. Best of luck … If you have questions, I’d love to help, so shoot me an email. I’m always happy to hear from both fitness novices and enthusiasts. Happy New Year.
Angie Gooding, owner of Inspire Fitness & Training, is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) Certified Personal Trainer and Educator, lives locally, and works in a private facility in Marysville. She can be reached AngieGooding@comcast.net or www.inspirefitnessandtraining.com.