By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
For many, the start of a new year is a time for reflection about how to improve their lifestyles and life choices. And that self-reflection often leads to making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get into better physical shape.
About 60 percent of us make resolutions — essentially, creating a goal — but only 8 percent of us successfully achieve them, according to research published in Reader’s Digest.
The report stated that exercise is the top resolution, coming just ahead of pledging to diet or eat healthier.
“Every January, we get a ton of people coming to join the gym,” said Ethan Salo, general manager of Westcoast Fitness in Port Orchard. “Unfortunately, the commitment to get healthy is often difficult to stick with.”
Here are tips from local fitness experts and physical health publications to help you get off the couch and into better shape:
Set small, reasonable goals.
Once you reach those goals, you gain momentum. “Setting short-term goals is a good way to see progress. Some people want to do easier daily activities like walking longer distances and being able to go on hikes,” Salo said.
Your first day in the gym can be the toughest.
“Some people come to a gym and the first thing they see are the weights and get intimidated,” said Kristi McGee, co-owner of Annapolis Fitness and Performance. “Tour the facility and you will see there are many other ways to exercise.”
Try group fitness classes.
“Getting into a class is the way to have a trainer show you how to do the right exercises for you,” McGee said.
If spin (biking) class or yoga is new to you — and you’re intrigued — sign up for a class. A good instructor will show you how to do the activity and encourage you to push your limits during class.
“Once you go to a class once or twice, you get to know others in it. Then a family dynamic develops among participants,” Salo said.
Enlist a friend.
“Others can help you by asking, ‘Are you going to the gym?’ It helps get your mind back on going to the gym,” Salo said.
Make workouts fun.
“We have tons of people who come in and stick to a particular class because they like it. As long as you are enjoying it, you are much more likely to stick with it,” Salo said.
“We have one member who, when she started coming here, she used a walker to get around. She started regularly going to yoga classes. Today she doesn’t need her walker.”
Take progress photos.
It is much easier to stick to an exercise program if you see results. Seeing a better “you” in a picture is quite a motivational tool and one of the best rewards.
“It’s good to see your progress. Seeing a photo is better than focusing on a number on the scale because with exercise your body tones up. A pound of fat looks larger on you than a pound of muscle, “ McGee said.
Sticking to an exercise regimen is an accomplishment, so it’s good to reward yourself when you reach a milestone — such as when you increase your workout by 10 minutes or you drop your first 5 pounds. The reward, however, should not work against your goal. You do not want to eat an entire pie at one sitting after losing a few pounds. Instead, go on a movie date or treat yourself to a new workout outfit.
Watch out for obstacles.
There are reasons some do not stick to their New Year’s resolutions, according to Shape magazine. Keeping these in mind can actually help you stay on track to attain the physical fitness you desire. Tackling a new goal is much tougher if you go it alone. Having the help and support of a friend to help you get through the tough times is a major benefit.
Having limited time to accomplish your goal can also cause you to drift away from your plan. There are times your resolution takes up more time than expected. For example, dealing with traffic when driving to the gym can eat up time you otherwise have allotted for your workout. Making a realistic time-management plan can help prevent this from becoming an issue.
Wanting to join a gym is great until you get the monthly bill. If the expense is too great, look for ways to exercise at home. Walking around the neighborhood costs you nothing. The costs of joining and using a fitness center or gym vary widely. Depending on the facility and services you want, monthly fees can vary from $10 to $500. A one-on-one personal trainer can cost $50 or more an hour.
Not being confident in yourself can be an obstacle. If you didn’t reach the goal you set, don’t view it as a failure. If you start out by wanting to lose five pounds but only lost two, rather than stew about carrying around three extra pounds, recognize the progress you accomplished.
But despite the costs and the effort in going to the gym, the gains are worth it, the experts say. Achieving fitness offers benefits ranging from improved appearance, increased productivity at work to better health.