By Guy Caracciolo
DHAC Director of Exercise Physiology
It is January 2012. Maybe you made some resolutions and goals for the coming year. By now, it may feel a bit trite. How many times have you made the same resolution? You might be starting to feel like you are going to fail again.
I know it can be hard to lose weight, exercise, and make healthier eating choices, but you can do it! Say it to yourself, “I can do it!” Of course, pure determination isn’t enough. How about a few tips on moving from resolution to a long lasting lifestyle change?
The road to success starts with proper planning. That includes understanding what your potential pitfalls have been in the past. We really do learn more from our mistakes than from our success sometimes.
Second, figure out your personal motivators. Why do you want to achieve this change? What does success mean to you? How about failure? What are the ups and downs of exchanging negative behavior for healthy behavior?
Finally, create small realistic goals that are achievable. Small successes lead to long term behavior change. This stage has you preparing and thinking “I can do this.” and strategising how to cope with potential pitfalls and hazards along the way.
Are your goals exercise related? Then here a few more tips:
Be consistent! Be realistic! Figure out many days can you devote to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise. If you have not exercised in months or even years, it is very important to start with a small dose of exercise two or three times per week. Your body and mind need time to adapt the stressor of exercise.
Always finish your exercise session thinking and feeling that you could have done more. Don’t create a feeling of discomfort while exercising when first starting out.
Use the talk test when performing cardiovascular activities such as walking, bicycling, etc. You should be able to hold on to multi word conversation without gasping in between words.
If the activity is walking or jogging increase time and or distance by no more than 10% per week. If it is weight supported cardio such as cycling, elliptical, rowing or swimming increase time and or distance by no more than 20% per week.
Do not increase your intensity for the first month unless you are under the supervision of an exercise physiologist.
Strength training should be performed two times per week, introducing a few major compound muscle group movements per week over the course of the next month. Perform one to two sets per exercise of ten to fifteen repetitions at a light to moderate weight.
Lastly perform a few simple flexibility movements to help you recover from your exercise and to develop a greater range of motion over time.
Make the commitment to slowly build your foundation for changing to healthier behaviors such as exercising consistently for the whole year! When one healthy behavior begins, other healthy behavior changes may start to follow.
Our behaviors are ruled by our mind and our mind rules our body. To change our body we have to change our mind. And as Ghandi said “We must become the change we want to see.”