In the New Year, the pressure is on to set goals, adopt healthy habits and make better choices. But the problem with making resolutions is that there are only two possible outcomes: success or failure.
Stats suggest that most of us end up identifying with the latter rather than the former, but the truth is we usually land somewhere in between, which is better than where we started but not quite as good as where we wanted to go.
Given the likelihood of promises made in January being abandoned in March, it’s time to reevaluate the types of resolutions you’re making. With that in mind, here are five mistakes to avoid:
1— Vow to lose weight by exercising more
If weight loss is your goal, exercise absolutely needs to be part of your overall plan. It just can’t be your whole plan. That’s because the calories burned during an average workout won’t make much of a dent in your weight loss goal unless you combine it with other strategies, including taking a long, hard look at your diet and other lifestyle factors like sleep, stress and a sedentary lifestyle.
Still not convinced that exercise isn’t your ticket to a slimmer you? Do the math. A 30-minute run on the treadmill burns around 300 calories. If you’re a walker, cut that number in half. Now get off the treadmill and grab a quick snack. Nothing too big, maybe just a granola bar (100 calories), a handful of nuts (170 calories) or a latte (100 calories — give or take, depending on whether whole, skim or non-dairy milk is used).
Bottom line is, it takes a lot more time, effort and dedication to lose a pound than it does to gain a pound. Multiply that time and effort by the number of pounds you want to lose and you get the picture.
2 — Promise to eat more of this and less of that
The idea that unwanted pounds will fly off if you cut some food out of your diet and replace it with other food is a simplistic approach to weight loss. Green tea isn’t going to melt unwanted fat. And eating less fat isn’t going to result in a trimmer waistline. So while you won’t get any arguments from dieticians if you eat more vegetables and less sugar, there’s still no guarantee that the needle on the scale will move in the right direction.
Anyone with weight loss goals should consult with a dietician who can work one-on-one to make an eating plan that takes into account personal habits, triggers, lifestyle, food preferences, etc. Cookie cutter fad diets taken from the internet or passed along from friends or colleagues at the gym rarely live up to their reputation.
3 — Give yourself a deadline
Healthy living can’t be achieved in three months. Neither can most people’s fitness or weight loss goals. Change happens slowly, so give yourself time to let good habits settle in and become second nature. So if your goal is taking longer to achieve than planned, don’t consider yourself a failure. Rather it’s likely that you didn’t give yourself the time needed to be successful. Adjust your deadline and your attitude, not your goal. And be sure to celebrate all the small wins you earn along the way.
4 — Make the wrong goal for the wrong reason
Whatever changes you want to make in 2019, make sure they reflect what’s important to you, not what’s trendy or important to someone else. Finding motivation from within is one of the key strategies for successful change. That means taking a good, long look at the why behind your resolution and making sure that the result is worth the effort.
Don’t feel pressured to run a marathon or half marathon when you’re happiest running for 60 minutes or less. And don’t struggle through HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts if yoga is more your thing. Resolutions that resonate from within are the ones that you’ll still be pursuing in March, rocking in June and accomplishing in September.
5 — Don’t run before you can walk
Joining the gym may seem like the perfect New Year’s resolution, but before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself why you’ve never joined the gym before. Take a moment to sit down and determine what type of exercise or environment you find the most motivating and enjoyable and go from there.
If you love the outdoors, forgo the gym in favour of a workout where you can feel the sun on your face and breathe the fresh air. And if competition turns your crank, get off the treadmill and find a running group that will push your limits. And while not all workout routines can promise to check all the boxes, they should be motivating and challenging enough to make you want to come back for more.
If not, rest assured that the problem is the exercise, not the exerciser. Keep experimenting until you find something that sticks.
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