Wellness & Fitness: Resolving New Year's Resolutions

Aah. It’s Jan. 1, and, after one last hoorah of goodies, a few too many glasses of bubbly and a couple weeks’ worth of packing on the holiday weight, it’s time to focus. New year; new you. Right? You’ve got big plans to eat healthier and exercise more, especially since you picked up that shiny new gym membership on Cyber Monday. Now you’re heading to the closest health food store to buy up all the organic, unprocessed food you can afford – and you’re feeling extra smart because you read to only buy food from the outer aisles of the store – it’s healthier. If you just follow your new diet and hit the treadmill every day – no cheat days, of course – you’ll be ready for beach season by March!

Inevitably, February rolls around and you find yourself delving with wild abandon into a pile of chocolate and wine, calories be damned. You also haven’t seen the inside of the gym since mid-January. Oh well, there’s always next year. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. But you’re also not doomed to suffer through the same dog and pony show of healthy resolutions year after year.

Janis Newton, director of the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center, said that the first step toward keeping your resolution for a healthier lifestyle is to improve your health and have a “healthy brain.”

“Eat and drink healthier, move more, increase your muscle mass and reduce your body fat. Doing those things lead to increased energy, healthy aging, decreased chance of chronic disease and more,” she said. “It all sounds easy, but many people get off track by obsessing with a ‘diet’ and unrealistic exercise goals. Some people aren’t ready to make the necessary changes. It is critical to manage the process of change so there is clarity in how to successfully reach goals.”

Newton suggested starting with small changes in each area that you would like to improve – something fun that you enjoy. Realistic goals can help you stay motivated, and even losing just 5 percent of your body weight can make an incredible difference in your overall health.

“The changes you make have to be sustainable. Have fun and redefine yourself to be empowered by these changes. You have the freedom and power to change your life. Choose how you want to live it and not how many pounds you want to lose in a few weeks,” she said.

Newton suggested six ways to help yourself manage the process of living a healthy lifestyle: make health a priority; commit with an all-in mentality; hold yourself accountable; be consistent; make choices that support your lifestyle; and have a mind-set of redefining yourself.

In addition to healthy eating and activity, Newton said how you respond to stress is an important factor. There are stressors in everyone’s life, but stress can become chronic if it is not managed well.

Newton suggested six ways to help yourself manage the process of living a healthy lifestyle: make health a priority; commit with an all-in mentality; hold yourself accountable; be consistent; make choices that support your lifestyle; and have a mind-set of redefining yourself.

Newton recommended first consulting with your doctor to make sure there are no underlying health issues, and then seek help from someone who can keep you on track, such as a personal trainer, health or life coach, registered dietitian or someone in the health industry.

Travis Lance, owner and certified athletic trainer at Fitness Now, agreed and said that establishing a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated.

“It’s simple, and no one workout or nutrition program works for everyone. It’s about having the mind-set to make it a lifestyle. Eat moderately – consider portion sizes, because everything is supersized these days. Stay away from complex carbs, eat more vegetables and less meat,” he said. “In terms of exercise, break a sweat for 20 to 30 minutes a day if you’re medically able. You don’t have to go to a trainer every day; we live in a great city. Get out there and walk the bridge or the Battery or the park, or ride your bike.”

Every January, new clients come to Lance with lofty New Year’s resolutions and the idea that immediate results are possible. Typically, however, their enthusiasm lasts only a few months if they don’t keep up their end of the bargain to live a healthy lifestyle.

“You have to make time for it. You find time to do the things that are fun and to eat unhealthy food. Working out and eating healthy can be fun, but, for most people, it takes effort. It gets easier once it’s part of your lifestyle. Make small changes and work your way up,” he said.

This New Year or any time of year – Lance and Newton agree there is no magic start time and no better time than the present – rather than making another healthy resolution that is doomed to fail, commit yourself to a new, healthier lifestyle.

“Ultimately, the battle is not eating healthy, moving more or your mind-set,” Newton said. “The real battle is chronic disease, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes. You’ll get one of those if you don’t take care of yourself. There is no more important thing than living a healthy lifestyle. If you can’t do it yourself, get professional help and get a game plan.”

INFOGRAPHIC: New Year's Resolutions by the Numbers
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