“Just one more, it’s the holidays,” is what we tell ourselves while devouring Mom’s home cooked meal or out with friends when the dessert tray is passed around for the second time. Each year, nearly half the nation makes New Year’s resolutions, and research shows close to 38% of these resolutions are weight-loss related. This is not surprising when considering research from the National Center for Health Statistics (Health, United States, 2011), showed that for (2009-2010) 35.9% of adults twenty years of age and older were obese. Gyms use these types of statistics to market their facilities and to entice people into memberships. However, it should be mentioned that nearly 60% of gym memberships opened during the New Year season end up going unused, and only 8% of those who make New Year’s resolutions fully follow through with their yearly goals.
As discouraging as those numbers may seem, many of us still put “getting in shape” at the top of our list of New Year’s resolutions. Most experts will agree the best way to a healthier life can only be achieved through a proper change in one’s lifestyle. This is a crucial, and probably the most difficult part of the transitional process. Finding the time and energy to fit exercise into our daily routines and having the will power to say no to our favorite comfort foods are more times than not the hardest part of making the transition. Although diet and exercise may not be the fastest way to reach one’s weight-loss goals, it is the safest and easiest to maintain once these goals are met. Quick fix diets mostly shock the body, depleting proper nutrients, and often times result in rapid weight-gain once the diet is over.
So, what are the first steps to take in making commitments to health and fitness goals? The most important is understanding the idea that good health is structured around proper exercise, nutrition, and a consistency of both. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “For substantial health benefits, adults perform at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, should be spread throughout the week.” The 2008 Guidelines also recommend that adults perform muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, because these activities provide additional health benefits.
Clearly, exercise can be accomplished in or out of the gym. Resistance bands have gained popularity over the years with people of all levels because of their versatility, mobility, and price. They are also useful for those just getting back into exercising – when used correctly, the bands help guide proper form, along with being a great tool to use for stretching. TRX suspension training (designed by the NAVY Seals) has become a recent favorite of those who like to bring their workouts anywhere, allowing those of all skill levels the option to work all the body’s major muscle groups, followed by the ability to engage stabilizer muscles, (a muscle that contracts with no significant movement to maintain a posture or fixate a joint). Demonstrations on how to use these pieces of equipment are listed below.
- Beginner Resistance Band
- TRX Basics
- Most Fit-Fitness Strap
Many would say their biggest obstacle in achieving their weight loss goals is nutrition. Bad habits have become routine, which can be difficult to curb, possibly because they are a mental obstacle rather than a physical one. Health professionals recommend it is best to overcome most of these habits with a slow and steady approach, which then allows the body to healthily transcend away from them. Key concepts to practice in regards to nutrition, especially when utilizing a new exercise regimen, are as follows:
- Proper Nutrients (CDC’s Nutrition Basics)
- Portion Control
- Monitoring Ingredients (FDA’s detailed description of food ingredients and coloring)
- What to eat or drink before and after workouts
-Mark Twain. “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.”