Friday, January 04, 2008

How to Stay on the Fitness Track

I have a friend who was just telling me the other day that she is putting on weight and she is now in the process of losing a little weight. I told her that losing weight is a long process and she needs to be patient. Like a lot of people, she asked if there is an easier way to lose weight and thought maybe she will go for liposuction.

"Well, you can consider that if you do not mind spending the money. And to be frank, if you do not change your eating and living habits, the extra pounds will come back to you." I said.

Indeed, changing our eating and living habits are promising ways to losing weight and to
healthier living. However, we need perseverance and determination to see us through. And the most important thing is, you must be ready to commit to the change. Are you ready to lose weight and to live a healthier life? Wishing everyone a healthier 2008!

Resolutions are an opportunity for us to create positive goals.

Unfortunately, on average, most health and fitness resolution last only about four weeks, and then it is back to old habits.

Here are some suggestions to help keep you on track this year.

No more excuses. We often justify our behavior with what we want to believe are good reasons. Two of the most commonly heard excuses when it comes to absence of exercise are lack of time and/or money.

Getting into shape does not require a health club membership, expensive equipment or putting aside hours of your time each day.

It boils down to taking a look at your activity level, and if it is not where it should be, making a few simple changes that will get you up and moving.

If you have desk job, for example, make a resolution to use your breaks to take a walk and stretch out. If your building has stairs, use them.

Create a small fitness group with co-workers. Being around others with similar goals is supportive and encouraging, and provides the accountability necessary to succeed.

Every additional step you take during the day burns that many more calories and moves you closer to your goal.

When it comes to diet, there are no excuses for not cutting back on calories. Small changes include leaving a few bites on your plate at each meal and switching to water in place of higher calorie drinks. When ordering a restaurant meal, ask for the lunch portion or box half of the meal for the next day.

Go for fat-free dressing instead of full-fat versions and ask for your dressing on the side so that you can control how much you use.

Although these examples may seem as if they would have little impact on weight loss, the truth is, it was the little things that added up to the extra pounds and inches in the first place.

No time for a work-out? Many simple strengthening exercises can be performed easily at home in just minutes a day, with no equipment or expense. Examples are squats, lunges, crunches and push-ups, which use your own body weight for resistance and are great for burning calories and strengthening major muscle groups.

A morning work-out consisting of two sets of each exercise will take you 15 minutes or less. Other exercises can be included for additional strengthening using inexpensive resistance bands or dumbbells.

These can be performed on alternate days or, if two mini-work-outs are desired, a morning and an evening work-out can be planned.

Stay positive, stay motivated. It is one thing to have a fitness plan, but seeing it through requires motivation and a positive outlook.

It is important to be active most days of the week, but without understanding just how many benefits can be gained, there is no real motivation driving you forward.

Experiencing the payoff, from an active lifestyle provides continual motivation and is the difference between those who look forward to their work-outs and those who do not.

Unfortunately, many look at exercise as a chore or punishment for having gained weight. These people often start out by doing too much too soon in an effort to lose weight quickly, only to find themselves tired, sore and burnt out. Instead of focusing on weight, try thinking of your exercise sessions in terms of a payoff to you. Few people complain that they feel worse after a good work-out or are sorry they did it.

Exercise brings about many changes in the body, releasing chemicals responsible for positive mood. This feeling is extremely motivating and makes you look forward to the next work-out.

The bottom line is that exercise and a healthy diet are gifts that you give yourself and with consistency, weight loss happens anyway without it being your main focus.

About the Author: Marjie Gilliam is an International Sports Sciences Association Master certified personal trainer and fitness consultant. Her website is www.ohtrainer.com

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