Well it's that time again, time for the dreaded news year’s resolution. The one where you say “I am really going to get into shape this year.” It’s the one that allowed you to put on an extra 10 pounds over the holidays because you knew this year was the year. Well, you may or may not know, but I hate talking about quick fix diets or the short cut to getting great abs or how to get the body you have always wanted in ten easy steps. Partly, because there are so many publications that give this kind of information month after month, but mostly because I don’t believe there is really any quick fixes, great abs take dedication and the body you’ve always wanted is probably not going to be easy, because if it were, you would already have it.

Now, I am not trying to discourage you from attempting to make the changes that you want in yourself, because I whole heartily believe anyone can make the changes needed to achieve the look they want. However, with this comes the reality of knowing that whatever your goal is that it will take commitment.

What I have done is put together a list of hints I hope will help get you motivated and stay motivated.

1. First up is commitment. I know you are probably thinking to yourself that it goes with out saying. But truthfully, many have the desire to make a change in their body, but do not make the commitment. It is the number one reason why many who try, very shortly after return to their old habits. Sometimes it is because they become discouraged after a few weeks, because the change is not as fast as hoped for. Another problem is the yoyo effect. This happens when someone achieves a small gain then blows it by indulging in a weekend of great food and no exercise. This can make many feel as though it is hopeless. So, if you decide to make a change, make a true commitment to it. You can even write down your goal and sign it and every time you think of going back to your usual ways, read the commitment you made to yourself.

2. Set a goal. I know I put set a goal second, most would think it should be first, but to me, if you are not going to have sincere commitment, then setting a goal is not really going to do any good. Make your goal a reasonable one. First, don’t compare yourself to anyone. Set your goal by taking in to consideration your lifestyle and body type. You could even try making smaller goals than the big picture goal. This way you can achieve each goal more easily and with each achievement will be more motivated to continue on.

3. Don’t diet! That’s right you heard me. If you go on a diet at some point you will come off and usually this kind of behavior is far worse for you metabolism. You will probably find that you have gained more than you lost when you finally go off the “diet.” What you will need to do is change your choices of foods. There are many different approaches out there that work. It would be good to explore a couple of different ones to find what is right for you. I find in general, a balance of food groups work best. However, I also recommend that before you make dietary changes go to step four. Begin an exercise program for a week or two weeks before you make any major changes in your diet. This helps your metabolism to increase and also, once you begin exercising your body will want to eat a little healthier, which will make the diet changes easier.

4. Make a lifestyle change. Part of your commitment will involve making some lifestyle changes. It is up to you to pick the ones you think you can live with, because it is you that will have to live with them. Another reason many fail to make changes is because they try to make changes that are not right for them or are too much of a change too quickly. For instances, if you are someone who doesn’t exercise at all and haven’t’ for years - joining a gym and beginning a very time consuming work out plan might be a little too much for you to keep up. You might start to find excuses why you can’t make it to one of the sessions then another and so on. I suggest that if this sounds like you, instead of going with the time consuming rigorous workout. Start with something more like 20 minutes three times a week of an activity that you like to do. Chances are you will enjoy yourself so much that you will be motivated to make the workouts longer and more often, as time passes. For instance a walk in your favorite park or neighborhood. Or put on your favorite music and dance. Even if you are not a great dancer, you will have fun moving to music you love.

5. Now, make some realistic changes in the food you eat. Sometimes the simplest of changes can make a big difference. If you eat lunch out everyday, fast food, fried food etc. Make the commitment that of at least three of those days you will have a lighter more balance lunch. That doesn’t have to mean flavor loss there are many great dishes that are balance and tasty, if the restaurants you eat at don’t offer them, then make a lunch for yourself at least 3 times a week. If you are someone who always makes a lunch, take a look at what you are eating, do a little research, check to see if your lunch is well balanced. Many people, with out realizing it, eat 2 to 3 times the amount of bread and starchy foods per day than their body can process.

6. Don’t measure yourself against anyone else. You should never do this with any aspect of your life. Measure yourself against what you have accomplished and what you are trying to accomplish. Every one is different, so therefore the rate of change is different for everyone. I hate scales, to me it is not about how many pounds you lose, but the way the weight shifts and moves. I.e., how your clothes are fitting. Nothing makes me feel better than putting on a pair of pants I haven’t been able to wear comfortably for a while and have them fit well.

7. Drink lots of water. If you are someone who drinks soda, coffee or even a lot of juice in day you should try to substitute a couple of those drinks with a glass of water. Not only is it calorie free, but it is also an important element in your body’s ability to process its nutrients and if you are trying to make changes this is even more critical.

8. Read about the nutritional value of different foods. Increasing your knowledge of what is healthy will really help to motivate you into striving for a more balanced diet. Also, be careful of fat free products, they often contain high levels of sugar and salt. If you body cannot process the sugar it takes in it will turn the excess into fat. Too much salt makes the body retain water.

9. Don’t let a relapse discourage you. If you fall back into your old habits, try not to get discouraged. You should be proud of each step you take and remember it is easy to return to your old habits, staying on track is what takes courage and discipline. If you miss a scheduled day of exercise or eat a bunch a junk food one day, just think of it as a vacation day from your commitment and that tomorrow you will be back on track.

10. Reward yourself every once in a while. That’s right; give yourself your favorite foods everyone so often. Life is too short and giving up your favorite foods forever just doesn’t seem fair, besides knowing that these foods are still a part of your life will make it easier for you stick to the changes you make. Try picking one day in the month that is your day for your favorite foods.

Remember, any attempt is a good attempt. Be proud of yourself for giving your goals a try. And good luck!


© Melt Magazine 2004