As we stand upon the precipice that is a brand new year many of us will cautiously dust off age old promises to be better; drop the spare tire, lose the muffin top, run a 5 k, touch our toes, swear off chocolate forever, you know that same old schtick.
I absolutely encourage all of us to aspire to greater things, but having dealt with many people and their resolutions over the last 20 years I would like to offer a couple tidbits. Start by prioritizing your health. Most of us have a variety of physical imbalances and injuries we have accrued over the years. Many people simply ignore them and leap blindly into the latest DVD regime or class and hope that exercise will solve their tissue issues. Unfortunately more often than not they end up in more pain than when they started. Pain is not typically a great motivator toward continuing training, and ‘wham’ participants fall face first off the fitness bandwagon. Folks who would rather not repeat this cycle again in 2014 would be smart to address their weak links before injury sabotages their efforts.
Just as we take our vehicles in to the shop for preventative maintenance, tire balancing, wheel alignment, 20 point inspection, many of us could benefit from seeing a ‘body mechanic’ to assess and work at correcting our specific imbalances. Medicine Hat has a variety of Chiropractors, Physical, Massage, and Exercise therapists who are adept at screening for weak links and solving imbalances that lead to injury. With this information exercisers can then begin a routine that addresses their specific issues. A client with low back pain may present with weak glutes and tight hip flexor muscles; 2 or 3 preventative exercises prior to a run and 2 or 3 after will clean up those issues and allow that runner to enjoy a run instead of struggling through it. Before they tackle the latest extreme program people who are tight all over can embrace a Yoga or stretching focused class, while folks with non existent core muscles can join a Pilates class or do their assigned daily half dozen.
Another health parameter that gets sacrificed this time of year is the nutrition side. From Halloween to January 1 houses and bellies are filled with all manner of high fat, high sugar, high salt, highly processed “other” foods. We eat like the world is ending. Then January comes along and people go cold turkey jumping on the latest diet bandwagon, skipping meals, drastically cutting calories, opting for the quick fix, all or nothing, no fun diet regimen that promises 30 pounds of weight loss in just 1 week. Invariably this style of eating loses its lustre, and our noses lead us right back to the same trough as last year. Data from the National Weight Control Registry made up of 4200 success stories, people who have lost an average of 67 pounds and maintained that loss for 6 years points to no magic pills. However, 4 common themes emerge that we can all benefit from and implement today.
1. These 4200 successes averaged 56% of their calories from carbohydrates, 19% protein, and 25% fat. So low fat, high complex carbohydrate, and moderate protein is what allows these people to maintain their weight loss.
2. Exercise every single day. Folks in the registry accumulate 60 to 90 minutes of fanny busting movement Monday to Sunday.
3. Eat Breakfast every day. This seems to be the meal that gets cut as folks try to trim their calories. Skipping meals simply doesn’t work, period.
4. Keep track of your weight and your eating. That doesn’t mean you are obsessing every day, it means you are holding yourself accountable.
Ed Stiles BPE, Certified Exercise Physiologist is a member of the Alberta Sport Development Center’s Performance Enhancement Team and operates Peak Performance Fitness Services. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org