What are you doing today?
Here we are about a week away from the New Year. Often, resolutions are made on these evenings with a beverage in hand, a smile on the lips and not a care in our minds. It is a celebration after all, and all are in high spirits on such a momentous evening as New Year’s Eve.
It is the night we leave behind our troubles and worries from the previous year, and look forward with hope, ambition and desire towards the fresh New Year before us. It is not just the beverage that makes us a little whimsical and unrealistic. It is the moment; this brief period of time, the stillness of the air, the moment between breaths, when we feel all those things we were not able to accomplish or achieve previously, can be accomplished and achieved in the New Year. Hope springs anew on the crisp winter eve. Resolutions are made.
We have all been there, we have all done that. But who has the t-shirt that says “I gave up on my big plans and dreams before the break of dawn, January 1st of every year of my life?” Studies say that by the end of January a third have given up on their resolutions, and by July over half have given up. I’m shocked that the numbers who keep their resolutions are this high. Seeing the crowd in the gym drop off near the end of January makes me think a lot more than half of people give up way before July.
Today is your day
Don’t wait until you’ve had a few cocktails and your belly is full of rich food on New Years Eve to decide it is time to change your life. Grab a slip of paper from your desk and jot down two or three things you would like to change or do more of or less of.
I know it’s tempting to write down really big things that you want to do. Resolution time is the time to be ambitious and go big, right? But let’s look at this another way; rather than having an overly ambitious goal, how about having a more moderate goal, one that you can have a reasonable expectation of achieving.
Why set a course for failure when you are planning what to do. That’s the same thing as planning to fail. You can choose an achievable goal that has meaning in your life. You do not need to impress anyone else with some lofty goal that you have no hope of accomplishing.
This is for you. This is your day. Do it today. Write down your goals now.
Studies have shown that specific goals are more likely to be achieved. A specific goal would be something like, “I want to lose 5lbs by the end of February and 10lbs by December 1st 2013.” Just saying that you want to lose weight is not specific enough.
Modest goals that are achievable are more likely to be achieved. If you want to start running this year, setting your sights on a 5K is more realistic than going for a marathon. If you want to lose weight this year, you are more likely to lose 5lbs than 50lbs over the course of the year.
It’s not that you should not be ambitious, but sticking with a 5K training plan is better than quitting a marathon training plan. Losing 5lbs and then building on that success to lose another 5lbs is better than setting a goal of 50lbs and then quitting because you only lost 5lbs in two months.
Setting achievable goals and then establishing new habits to attain these goals is your path to long-term success. Getting into a jogging or running routine that you can maintain for life is a worthy goal, as is learning how to deal with your cravings or changing your eating habits.
Now that you have specific and achievable goals it is time to think about how you are going to accomplish your goals. I won’t list all of the web sites where you can find help quitting smoking or losing weight or finding ways to gain control of your anger or fear. Google can help you find those.
I want you to write down one or two things that you can do to help you accomplish your goals. They do not need to be dramatic and grand. Small steps taken consistently will get you to where you want to go. You have your destination set, now plan how you are going to get there.
Changing Your Diet
Making small changes that you can live with are best. If your goal is to lose weight then the best way to start is with a food journal. All that you need to do is take a small note-book and stick it in your pocket. Write down everything that you eat for a week and then look at it. There will probably be some obvious problem areas that you can work on and achieve your weight loss goals. Do you drink a lot of soda or go out for lunch every day? Do you use cream in your coffee every day, several times a day?
You may find that by changing just one or two of your eating habits that you can lose 5lbs in a year. If you maintain the new eating habit you will probably keep the weight off and may continue to lose.
I know 5lbs in a year doesn’t sound like much. But how much did you lose last year? How much did you gain last year? If you can take control of your diet this year through small changes you can stop and even reverse the annual weight gain most of us experience.
Here is a good web site to find the calories in the foods that you eat. caloriecount.about.com. If you scroll down on the home page you will find their listing to look up calories. It may surprise you how many calories are in some foods you eat and how making one or two small changes in your diet could add up to real and sustainable weight loss. This is not about crash or fad diets. It’s about making small changes that you can live with and that will add up to better health over time. They also list activities that you can use to burn additional calories.
Here is another good web site that I found recently. caloriesperhour.com. They have the same philosophy as I do, as stated on their “Tutorial” page:
Our concept of a “diet” is a change in lifestyle: Learning to eat well and exercise in a healthy way that you can enjoy for the rest of your life. The concept is not unique. It is one you will likely hear about from a health professional. Our purpose is not to help you with your next diet, but to help you put an end to the dieting cycle. Temporary weight loss is of little benefit.
Their tutorial has a lot of good information and is an easy read. They have a lot of good tools and information on the site, and I think you will find it very interesting.
Both of these web sites have ads, are looking to sell books and have premium services. But I think they have fewer ads than sites like coolrunning.com. Caloriesperhour.com is now part of livestring.com. I’m not sure how you feel about Lance Armstrong, but livestrong.com has a lot of great information and tools for you also.
Increasing Physical Activity
Increasing your physical activity in the New Year is a great way to lose weight and/or increase your fitness. If you burn a few more calories through increased activities and reduce your caloric intake you can accelerate your weight loss, but in a healthy and sustainable way.
Both of the web sites I mentioned have good information on burning additional calories. You do not need to start training for a triathlon. It can be as simple as walking the dog or you can find a “Couch to 5K” program at coolrunning.com, active.com and other web sites.
You will be pleased to note that caloriecount.about.com tells you how many calories you can burn through sexual activity. There is truly something for everyone when it comes to increasing physical activity and caloriecount has a fairly extensive listing for you.
New Years Resolutions
I know that not all New Year’s resolutions are about getting healthy or losing weight. But this blog is about running and providing advice to people who want to start running. My passion is running and staying healthy. If you are reading my blog and have gotten this far, then you must have a passion for health and exercise as well.
I hope you will take a few minutes to write down your health and fitness goals for 2013. Then, I hope you will visit some web sites or read some books to see how you can make big changes in your life with small changes in your diet and activities.
Live well my friends