Healthy New Year

Published 10:56 pm Saturday, January 7, 2012

A group of people at the East Suffolk Recreation Center work out on the treadmills.

Sticking to the resolution and getting in shape

Each time New Year’s rolls around, many people make a resolution to better themselves. For many people, that vow is to get in better physical shape.

Whether they want to lose weight, eat healthier or just start exercising more, keeping the resolution can be tough. However, there are many steps to take to ensure the goal isn’t abandoned before the first month of the new year is over.

Jean Maxwell, a clinical dietitian, said she thinks the biggest reason people don’t keep their resolution to get fit is because they think too big.

Email newsletter signup

“The main thing is that when you are setting goals for yourself as far as weight loss or changing habits, you have to set a realistic goal,” she said. “If you want to lose 50 pounds, you might want to start off saying you are going to lose 10 pounds, and when you’ve lost 10, you say you’ll lose another 10.”

Maxwell said realistic goals make it easier to stick to the task because they are more attainable.

The rule also applies to people who are looking to go to the gym and start exercising.

When you first commit to the resolution, Maxwell said, going to the gym every day and exercising for several hours can wear you down quickly and discourage you from going back.

“If you have been sedentary, you don’t want to start out too much because you can hurt yourself,” she said.

Instead, Maxwell said, just start to be more active any way you can, like by playing sports on the Wii game console or walking the dog farther than usual.

“A small change can make a big difference,” she said. “Once you accomplish that, you can go even further.”

Additionally, Maxwell said, a gym membership might not be the best option for everyone.

If you are worried about working out in public, she said, playing active video games or following a DVD might be a better option.

However, no matter what you chose to do as exercise, she said, having people to do it with is always helps.

“With people with families, make a family event out of a bike ride,” Maxwell said. “It is a good motivator.”

If you are joining a gym, she said, she recommends getting a “gym buddy,” so you can encourage and support each other to do well.

In addition to changing exercise habits, many people also use the New Year as a motivator to change their diets as well.

Maxwell said making small changes in a diet can make the process less abrupt and easier to adapt to.

“Make one change at a time,” she said.

She said a good first step is learning portion control, and from there, more steps can be taken, such as cutting out fast food.

Maxwell said a lot of people have trouble cutting out fast food because it’s convenient, comforting and addictive.

Instead of cutting off fast food all at once, she said, it is better to wean yourself off slowly.

“Start by just going less often,” Maxwell said. “You can make it as a reward rather than a once a day thing.”

For people who work, packing your lunch and keeping snacks in your car or purse can be a good way to resist the temptation of fast food as well.

“All you need to do is get a lunch box or a cooler and take it with you,” Maxwell said. “Anyone can make a sandwich.”

She said she also thinks it’s critical people stay educated about dieting by learning how to read nutritional labels and understanding the healthier food choices, whether it’s at the grocery store or a restaurant.

Above all, Maxwell said, people looking to get in shape this year should be patient and do it the right way by dieting and exercising to maximize their results rather than depending on trendy, quick diets.

“Those can be dangerous, and they can cause you a lot more grief in the long run.”