By Melissa Givelos, DC
For many people the start of the new year, signals the start of a “New You”. Resolutions are made January 1st with high hopes of maintaining good new habits for the year to come but for the majority of people, those resolutions have been forgotten by the time Groundhog Day rolls around. The easiest way to avoid disappointment with resolutions regarding personal fitness is to keep them realistic and safe. Here are some key steps to help achieve and maintain your fitness goals for the whole year.
- Try new things: Instead of committing to 20 classes of that Ballet Barre class or a year- long membership at a gym, take advantage of the free/discounted offers gyms and studios have this time of year. By doing this, you can try a variety of different workouts in the first few weeks of the year and decide what you enjoy doing the most, and may even look forward to doing. Selecting the activities you enjoy will make it easier to incorporate into your routine, and prevent you from dreading workout time.
- Pencil it in: Once you had decided what type of workout works for you, sit down with your weekly schedule and decide how much time a week you would like to dedicate to getting in shape. Whether you will be working out on your own, with a personal trainer or taking group classes, slot your workout times into your calendar, with alerts if your calendar is electronic and make sure that these times are consistent so that they become a part of your routine.
- Be Realistic: While it is tempting to want to start working out 5 days a week right away, many of our schedules are not conducive for this to happen nor are our bodies ready for it. Starting with 2 times a week is a realistic and manageable goal. Once this has become part of daily life and the initial aches and pains have come and gone, adding an extra day can be considered. Also, when picking a time of day to workout, take your own habits into account. If you find it impossible to get out of bed, signing up for that 6am yoga class before work may not be for you. Conversely if you find you are completely drained after work, then picking a morning or lunchtime workout may suit you better. It is also important to be realistic and clear about your goals. Are you working out to lose weight or feel stronger? Are you trying to become more flexible? While it is safe to lose about 3 pounds a week, it is better to lose 1-2 pounds a week, when combined with proper nutrition making this a healthy goal. With regards to feeling stronger or more flexible, pick activities that you used to find difficult to do and use that as an easy gauge.
- Seek Advice: When embarking on a new workout plan, think of it as a team approach. Firstly, if you have any health concerns or nagging injuries, these should be addressed with your medical provider before beginning a new exercise routine, so that you know your restrictions and can get treated accordingly. Next, always ensure to tell your personal trainer/class instructor about any issues you may have as well so that they give you alternatives. If you plan to start at gym, working out on your own, it is a good idea to do a few things first. Many clinics/gyms offer complimentary functional assessments which can give you a good idea if you are working with any functional imbalances that can lead to injuries and strategies to prevent this. Also if you are new to the gym setting, investing in a few sessions with a personal trainer is a good idea so that they can help set up a program for you, and most importantly show you how to use the machines and do the exercises correctly. Lastly, get any aches and pain examined by a medical profession BEFORE it slows you down. If you have pain, other than delayed onset muscle soreness that lasts more than 2 days, get it checked out right away!
- Treat a new week like a new year: Life often gets busy and interrupts our best intentioned plans. Don’t get discouraged if one week you only make it to the gym once as opposed to your usual 3 times. When Monday rolls around, go back to your workout schedule and don’t worry about the week before. Always look forward!
It is never too late to start! So even if you were tied up at the beginning of January, or are inspired to start working out when dreaming about the warm weather coming up this summer, any time is a good time to start!
MELISSA GIVELOS, DC
Active Release Techniques® Provider
Acupuncture McMaster University
Location: Yonge & Sheppard, King & Yonge