STICK WITH IT: Fitness — a popular New Year’s resolution

Published 12:10 pm Monday, December 29, 2014


For the Daily News


Every turn of the calendar year is met with a sense of excitement and anticipation by our staff at Vidant Wellness Center.  Our facility becomes much busier than usual with new members and the return of current members who have “fallen off the wagon” with their exercise regimen. It stands to reason. CNN ranked “losing weight” as the number one New Year’s Resolution for folks in the US.

What’s equally predictable and also extremely puzzling is that folks will begin this process of self-improvement, see positive results, but then stop exercising altogether. By mid-March, the number of members who actually use the gym goes back to the pre-January  levels and remain that way until the beginning of the next year.

If this cycle of behavior mirrors the way your weight loss resolution plan typically plays out, take heart. You are definitely not alone. If you are like me, you want to break this cycle of inconsistency and make your health a yearlong venture! I’d like to suggest that the least used piece of equipment capable of making this plan sustainable is between our ears! How we mentally approach this process, and the mindset we develop, is just as important as the time and type of exercise we perform each day.

I think the best approach to gaining consistency is to take pressure off mentally. How? Often times we look at January 1st and the ensuing year as THE year we finally lose “x” amount of weight. As the first few weeks go by, you step on the scale each week (or each day), and you see a lower number than the week before! That’s great! But what happens in February when your rate of weight loss starts to slow down? You’re putting in the work at the gym, but the “return” isn’t what you expected. After a few weeks of modest or disappointing returns on the scales, you begin to get frustrated and wonder, “Why am I doing this if it’s not going to work?” This cycle of frustration is common among those of us who use the scale as our measuring stick of progress.

It doesn’t have to be this way! There’s a different mindset that you can apply in order to gain consistency in your exercise regimen! At the risk of being overly simplistic, approaching your exercise regimen like you would approach your job keeps you from micromanaging the weight loss process. The secondary part of this mindset is to minimize the emotional rollercoaster of the weighing in process by not stepping on the scale nearly as often. While it may sound counterintuitive to NOT weigh ourselves when we are looking for weight loss, I would suggest focusing on the bigger picture: your overall health goals. Better health does not necessarily associate itself with a number. Happiness doesn’t either. The joy of feeling in control of your body and giving your body the best fighting chance against disease and the aging process cannot be accomplished by the number staring back at you from the scale; no matter how many times you weigh yourself!

Your approach must be broken down into a daily process. Here’s what I mean. At your workplace, every day brings a list of tasks to be accomplished before we can go home and be with our families for the evening. If you put your exercise at the gym on that “to do” list every day (either at the beginning or at the end), you have a much better shot at getting a consistent exercise regimen ingrained into your daily routine.

The bottom line is this: you need big picture goals and a daily commitment to the process. Your physical and emotional health is improved by developing exercise habits that are consistent over time.  Taking the emotions and frustrations out of the picture allows us to be more consistent and therefore more successful.

Mike Hayes is a personal trainer at Vidant Wellness Center in Washington and can be reached at (252) 975-4236.