by: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
No matter how many magazine articles and internet sites you read or TV and radio interviews you listen to, getting into shape for the new year always comes down to the same pointers. It makes me wonder why there are literally thousands of self-help books, hundreds of thousands of magazine articles and tens of millions of Internet sites that say the same thing over and over again. Do we really need to read the same thoughts year after year, be told the same tips every December, continuously be reminded of the value of a commitment to a healthy lifestyle? Seems so.
Therefore, not to be left behind in this silly redundancy, here are six tips I’ve boiled it all down to:
1. Be clear about your fitness/health goals, visualize them, write them down and share them with others. Be sure your goals are very small and specific, clearly measurable, easily attainable, very realistic for you and then put a time frame around your goals.
2. Find a personal or group fitness trainer who is certified to help you get your new year off on the right path. I suggest the ACE (American Council on Exercise) certification, but there are others that are also considered highly professional.
3. Re-start your nutrition and eating style if need be. This includes using the Harvard School of Public Health’s “Nutrition Source” (www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource) guidelines. Ask a friend to help you scour your home for food that’s not on the Harvard diagram and toss it. After all, it’s a new year!
4. Think of “activity and movement” more than “exercise” if you are just getting going. Whatever you do, as long as you enjoy it and are active and moving at least 30 minutes steadily five days a week, that’s a great start! Scheduling it together with friends, having fun, crank up your iPod with your favorite tunes, working with a trainer, are all ways you will insure you’ll still be at it long after Valentine’s Day.
5. Be sure you relish your results with real rewards. From a great dinner now and then, to sharp new workout clothes you feel good in, to bragging rights at work about your latest walk, hike, swim, bike-ride, cardio routine, Les Mills or Zumba class, weight training or new friends you’ve met through fitness, you deserve it!
6. Keep thinking accurately about your health, fitness and wellbeing. The link is always what you think. When you begin hearing yourself go negative, “why bother?” or hear words that sound like you are starting to convince yourself to skip an activity, it’s time to counter those irrational thoughts with the following:
A. What evidence do I have that what I’m thinking is accurate?
B. What’s a more accurate and positive way to think about it?
C. What would I tell a friend who shared the same thoughts with me and was starting to avoid healthy activity she/he committed to?
D. Why aren’t I as compassionate with myself?
So there you have it. My boiled down version of what millions of pages of Internet sites, newspapers, magazines, and media interviews will tell you. I’ve saved you hours and hours of reading and gathering information. Use that time for yourself in healthier ways.
It’s your life, a new year, so why not start it off the best way you can? But remember, it’s not where you begin that matters, it’s how you finish. Next year at this time, as we face 2013 in twelve months, imagine being in the best shape you’ve ever been in regardless of your age! You can do it. After all, you are only six steps away.
Happy New Year!