We don’t like to let go. But going back to our mundane lives now has to happen and here we go again! The holiday season has passed and all of us have been mostly sedentary and we certainly have overeaten. So what are we going to do about it this time—go on a diet? Commit to the gym? Take a personal trainer or go to a weight loss group? These are all great options, but what can we do different this time to really make a difference that can be maintained and bring the results that we all are looking for? The statistics for people “finally deciding to really do something” aren’t very good. In the secular world, every January 1st, we hear about the New Year’s resolutions. And taking care of our health is usually one of them. Gym memberships soar at the beginning of the New Year, yet by March, the drop-out rate at gyms is astonishing. People who have purchased half-year and full-year memberships are no longer attending. The initial excitement slowly evaporates and we are all back into our mundane rut and bad habits. So how do we get out of the rut and really make the necessary changes? Here are a few rules to help you succeed this time around. And a reminder, we have just finished the time of repentance and change so keep that in mind and this time, we really want to make it stick.
- The very first good idea for success for you in weight loss and health gain is to drop the grand plan. Slow and steady certainly is the winner here. Most of us put on weight over years and years, so don’t expect to drop an unreasonable amount of weight in a short time. Keep your weight loss goals reasonable. Two pounds or one kilo a week is really the maximum average weight loss you should expect for healthful and sustainable weight loss. It is true that for people who have a lot of weight to lose, you might see a much larger drop the first few weeks, but a lot of that is water and built up glycogen in your muscles. Once you start to become active, that begins to melt away and you see a larger drop than you would see from just fat weight. But think about how many years it took to gain weight, and be reasonable about how long it can take to lose the same weight. If you are on the right type of weight loss program, you will lose slowly but surely, but it will take less time to lose than what it took to put in on.
- Second, consistency is the key to success. Like anything else in life, the only way to get the results you want to see is to put it into your schedule and plan carefully. If there is some necessity to cancel your exercise time, then make it up by moving it to another time or a different day. The benefits of exercise are much more pronounced when they are consistent. And remember that we should be walking 4-5 days a week briskly for at least 30 minutes for our cardiovascular health and dong 2-3 days a week of muscle building exercises.
- The third thing to remember is that if this isn’t a top priority, it will just fall by the wayside like other things you might get excited about but have no staying power. You don’t have to make it THE most important thing and you don’t have to obsess over it, but usually it has to be a top 5 priority in your life if you want this to work. Learn how to say no to other things that might come along and interfere and also learn how to say no, politely, to others. Put the word “I” back in your vocabulary and remember you don’t have to take a back seat to others. You don’t have to make yourself more important all the time, but your health is at least as important and anything else.
- Four—don’t overlook the benefits of activity. We all have days where we just can’t do our formal exercise program. Perhaps there are busy seasons in the workplace, family obligations, Simchas to organize. But even in those times, and really all the time, it is of great importance to stay active. Parking your car a few blocks away from your destination, getting off the bus a stop or two early, and using steps instead of elevators can help you lose another 4-5 kilos a year, or at least prevent that much weight gain if made into a habit that becomes part of your life. Leave that car at home when you can and just walk to your destination. This can all make a huge difference in your life in terms of staying healthy and aging well.
- And finally number 5—DON’T GO ON A DIET. So you want to lose weight and automatically, your brain is telling you “go on a diet.” DON’T! Diets have never worked well for keeping weight off and why go through that whole losing battle anyway. The failure rate on diets is more that 95% in the long term. So don’t bother. Instead, get a food program that includes foods from all the necessary food groups. Diets or food plans that exclude entire food groups, or make them very minimal. Everyone is different and the ratio of proteins, unrefined carbohydrates and healthful, monounsaturated fats might be slightly different in each person—but YOUR BODY NEEDS ALL OF THEM. In other words, other than cases of food allergies or certain digestive diseases don’t eliminate nutrients that you definitely need for your health and your energy. And remember, we have to allow ourselves a treat every now and then. Plan it, keep it reasonable and enjoy it. Just make sure it fits in to your daily caloric allowance.
The end result? You will function better throughout the day, you will accomplish more and you will FEEL GREAT! Dropping the grand plan, being consistent, prioritizing, staying active with your exercise, and not dieting will, “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”