Happy New Year! Cheers to a healthy, safe, and prosperous 2009! This year’s first post is the same one I always post on January 1. I update a few points to adjust for current trends, but the underlying message remains the same.
How long have you been trying to lose weight? Has it been effective? How much have you lost? Seriously, reread those questions and think about your answers. That should put things into perspective. Now consider the following three questions:
1. Do you want to lose weight?
2. Are you honest with yourself? (Do you really want to lose weight?)
3. Do you have enough personal discipline to do it?
#1. Chances are you want to lose weight. You wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t interested.
#2. This is the most subjective question on the list. As you know, the mind can be deceitful. We are pre-wired to take the path of least resistance. If you’ve acquired a few extra pounds, you’re familiar with that path. If you cheated on your diets in the past, then you weren’t honest with yourself. If you aren’t honest with yourself, who will you be honest with? Question #2 is basically a quality control check on the first question. Do you really want to lose weight?
#3. This is the deal-breaker for most people. This is why over 26% of Americans are obese (CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System). “It’s true. I just got back from Costco, and saw at least eight 400-500lb’ers there. They love it because you can get 10lb palettes of toast chee and potato chips for about 8 bucks. And some for their kids, too,” says WhiteLightnin at Sherdog.net.
I’m not talking military discipline here. Most “diet” options on the market trick consumers into paying for something to supplant their own discipline. Think about it. Diet pills: “Just swallow this magic chemical and you will lose weight while sitting on your ass.” Ab machines: “Simply rock back and forth in the lounge chair for a few minutes each day and you will have stunning, sculpted abs.” Check out what the Federal Trade Commission had to say in their “Operation: Big Fat Lie.” What you need here is the will to resist the ridiculous.
If you weren’t happy with your answers to the questions in the first sentence, you will need to work on at least one the three items above. The good news is that you already have all the resources to get started. Below is a guide to keep you focused on your fitness, health, and well-being in the New Year.
* First and foremost, don’t “diet”. Remove that word from your vocabulary. The word is laced with so much commercialism, gossip, failure, and negative emotion, that it is absolutely useless. Start the New Year by resolving to never “diet” again.
* Don’t weigh yourself. The scale is evil. You don’t want to ride that emotional roller coaster all your life. Get it out of your house immediately. Don’t turn your plan to get in shape into a numbers game. Instead, work on improving the way you feel. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat. As you improve your fitness level, you will lose fat weight and gain muscle weight.
* Don’t reward yourself with food. Think of food as fuel. Good food makes you feel and perform your best. Bad food drags you down. Beware of your sense of taste guiding your food selection. Begin thinking of food as fuel and your tastes will begin to guide you along a more healthy path.
* Turn off your television. CBS, NBC, and FOX can do without another spaced-out mug staring at them. Don’t use “your shows” as an excuse to lay on the couch for hours every night of the week. Your life is not being culturally enhanced by tuning in. Trust me.
* Don’t buy an elliptical machine. If you don’t regularly exercise now, why in the world would you want to spend time on a machine in your basement staring at the wall? You won’t. Trying to get in shape in that manner does nothing to improve your attitude towards exercise. If you already have an exercise machine in your house, go look at it now. Is it being used to dry clothes or keep that cardboard box collection from touching the floor?
* Don’t buy a treadmill. See above.
* Please don’t buy any type of abdominal machine you see on television. First of all, your television should be turned off. Second, go back to question #3 above. Learn to recognize when you are spending money as a replacement for your lack of discipline.
* Be extremely skeptical of any bald dude in a pinstripe suit with a turned up collar and a gold watch stating that he can make you thin. Tell me how Paul McKenna is any different than any other diet “guru” that has come and gone with your money in the past. Getting fit doesn’t come on five CDs and cost $95. Think about it. No one is in control of your health but yourself.
Everyone knows how to lose weight, but we need help. We fall for the diet pills, the diet programs, and other miracle products that will melt fat away. The fact is, losing weight and getting in shape are difficult tasks. Consider how long it took to gain the weight. The weight that we gained since graduating high school took 5, 10, maybe 20 years to put on, right? We shouldn’t expect it to come off easily in six months unless we get very serious and work very hard. Rather, we should think in longer terms.
Start by walking. Get outside because it’s nice to breathe the fresh air. If it’s cold, wear warm clothes. If it’s hot, walk in the mornings or evenings. Work your way up to 6 or 8 miles a week. If walking isn’t convenient for one reason or another – too bad. It’s not supposed to be. No form of exercise will be convenient without a little bit of discipline. Convenience is a term used by stores that sell over-priced donuts.
Work your way into biking or running. For the wiser generation, cycling is a wonderfully low-impact activity. If not biking or running, get into cardio aerobics. If not aerobics, get into Pilates. If not Pilates, get into yoga. If not yoga get into calisthenics – push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, back arches, etc.
Take deep breaths and cool down afterwards. Always stretch. Relax and clear your mind when you stretch. This is when you should feel good about yourself for making it through a workout. This is the refreshing moment you will begin to crave. What you feel here is what will mentally prevent you from being lazy. The real reward is a sense of accomplishment and that slight “high” that comes after pushing yourself.
Time? You say you don’t have time to exercise? You say that you are too busy? Okay, stop reading and have a nice life. You are obviously not interested in improving your physical health. If you don’t like that answer, try this one: Fat chance! You’re not too busy. You’re presenting the weakest excuse in the book. Are you still watching television? Turn it off. You say you have to run your kids to soccer practice? What do you do while they’re at practice? Consider going for a walk/run around the park. There is your extra time. You say you need to wind down or relax after work? I’ll buy that. But not for three hours! Chill for a ½ hour. Collect your thoughts. Open your mail. Then get up and get outside!
Everyone has a day or two or three in which they cannot fit in an ounce of exercise due to various reasons. Bravo! You are leading a productive life. You don’t have to exercise every day. Get out when you can. Exercise doubles as a time to help you reach your weight loss goals as well as collect your thoughts, de-stress, and get in a better mood. It really works wonders.
Before you know it, you will be building energy so that even with the added workout regimen in your schedule, you will have more energy during work, school, and other activities you are involved in. Don’t forget to tune out gimmicky dieting ads. And, most of all, resolve to not “diet” in this New Year!