Resolve to Invest in Yourself

New Year’s resolutions have become the ugly Christmas sweaters of holiday traditions: they’re still in plentiful supply, but fewer people want to own up to having made them.

So, if you are fearful your “resolution” to get fit and lose weight in 2017 will set you up as a target for ribbing from friends and family, allow me to suggest calling it what it really is: making an investment in yourself.

As a health and exercise professional, I know that people who make that investment reap significant rewards. They’re happier. They have more energy. They’re more confident and mentally resilient. They form new friendships. Seeing those changes take place is the best part of my job. Yes, I provide them with some of the tools, but it’s them doing the work – and I’m so pleased to be a part of their success.

No matter what your age or current fitness level, there’s no better time than now to start your wellness journey. Here are a few quick tips to set your feet on the path to a better, healthier you:

DO:

  • Start small. By setting small goals that are more easily attainable, you’re more likely to reach your long term objectives. Choose goals you can measure, and soak up that positive motivation when you achieve them.
  • Share your goals. Letting people know what you’re aiming for can be a great motivator and help keep you on track.
  • Enjoy yourself. Getting fit and losing weight don’t have to be a grind. Choose activities you enjoy and you’re more likely to do them.
  • Find a buddy. Even the most disciplined among us can use a little help with motivation and accountability. The support and socialization you get from a wellness buddy, be it a friend or personal trainer, can be a huge factor in your success.
  • Stay hydrated. If you’re doing things right, you’ll be sweating a lot more so keep your fluid intake up. I would recommend water as your first choice. However, all fluids count towards your daily total excluding alcohol and caffeine. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day.
  • Reward yourself. Be good to yourself by finding a reward that works for you. I don’t suggest food, but treating yourself to massage or a night out with friends might do the trick. Make time to celebrate your successes.

DON’T:

  • Don’t overdo it. Give your body time to adapt to the new demands you’re placing on it. If you’re new to exercising, start out with 10-15 minute sessions and work your way up from there. If you’re targeting a particular muscle group, take a day off in between sessions to allow yourself time to recuperate.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Eating breakfast will jump start your metabolism and help give you the energy you need to get through the day. Also eating healthy consistently – I recommend five or six small meals a day – helps keep your body fueled with nutrients it requires. Read food labels carefully and, where possible, avoid added sugar.
  • Get some sleep. Getting the rest you require will help you stay mentally energized and focused.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is different. What works for some, may not work for you.
  • Don’t leave it to chance. It’s important to make time for exercise. Schedule it into your week and you’re more likely to follow through.
  • Don’t expect weight-loss miracles. A loss of 1-2 pounds per week is an acceptable, healthy pace. Instead of focusing on your scale, ask yourself if your clothes are fitting better. Are you feeling fitter? Are your activities easier? Remember, success is not a number.

Perhaps one of the biggest keys to success is plain old persistence. How many of your financial investments result in overnight windfalls? Not many. An investment in your health is much the same. Give yourself at least three months to start seeing results. Eat well and exercise, and chances are that after six months what started out as a significant effort will have become part of your new lifestyle.

You can do this.

Ashley Derlago is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and the Health Education and Lifestyle Coordinator at The Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks General Hospital.