"A Healthy New Year"

"Happy New Year to all! Traditionally, the end of the year, along with the beginning of the New Year is a time for us to reflect back on the past twelve months while looking forward to a new beginning. This process leads to our list of New Year's Resolutions. I have had a great deal of experience over the past 21 years, working with health and wellness resolutions. Kiddingly, we often make light of our efforts, or lack there of, at achieving our New Year's resolutions. If you are serious about your success this year, please continue reading.
Over the years, I have found there are a few keys to achieving your health and wellness goals. First, it is critical for your goals to be quantifiable. Consider; "I will lose ten pounds of body fat," versus "I will try to lose some weight." If your goal is not, in some manner, measurable, it is a "soft" effort. You might as well just be wishing to lose weight.
The key ingredient is to take the time to detail the action steps that will lead to your goal achievement. Using our "lose 10 pounds of body fat" example, the following items are critical

• Strength Training – A safe, challenging program completed 2-3 times per week. (Remember to seek the advice of your physician before starting an exercise program.)
• Aerobic Activity – Invigorating, heart pumping cardiovascular exercise for 20-45 minutes on most days of each week. This is definitely an action step that will take some time to fully imple- ment. Begin slowly with 20 minutes of activity and work up to longer, more intense workouts.
• Moderate-Caloric, Healthy Dietary Choices – Avoid fad diets, they do not provide for long-term success. Focus on both the foods you eat as well as the beverages you consume. When making smart food and drink choices, you must also take por- tion size into account. Large amounts of "healthy" foods can sabotage your efforts.
Additional tips for long-term achievement include the following components. (And really, long-term results are the only ones worth the effort.) Pick and choose as many of these components that will work for you and customize them to your personal goals.
Gain advanced knowledge in the major components of exercise and dietary programs. Put in the time to research and/or seek the expertise of an exercise professional such as an experienced personal trainer. Also, a registered dietitian can be invaluable. It is wise to find a nutritionist who is qualified with the "Reg- istered Dietitian or R.D." designation. Working with a trainer or nutritionist adds a level of accountability. If you can't work with a professional, pick a friend or family member who will help you maintain your commitment.
Consider enlisting a like-minded friend to join you for a portion of your exercise commitment. Choose your workout buddy carefully, maybe someone who has already had success in their own wellness efforts. Your buddy should be someone with similar resolve and determination, or this could be a slippery slope. Use this as an enhancement to your exercise program, but do not allow a missing partner to derail it. Perhaps, you can arrange for a brisk bike or walk workout followed by a healthy lunch once a week.
Establish an incentive process. Set mini-goals and reward yourself when you meet them. I would highly discourage compensation in the form of a triple-scoop, hot fudge sundae, French fries, or a double cheeseburger as your reward for losing those ten pounds of body fat. Stick to a massage, a new item of clothing, a manicure and other non-caloric treats. Be creative and think about things you would normally not do or buy.
Know that you must develop a progression of your action steps. Expect that you should exercise aerobically at a faster pace for a longer duration in the fifth week than you were in the second week. Also, you should be using greater resistance and more challenging strength training exercises as the weeks progress. This is a necessary progression to achieve your desired results. As part of this process, please allow for re-evaluating your actions steps as you move forward. If your "heavier" jeans
are not fitting looser by week five or six, you need to critically assess your efforts (or lack there of.) However, if you have dili- gently stuck to your plan, and you are not reasonably satisfied with your progress, it is time to re-visit your actions steps.
Finally, develop a "can-do" attitude. Turn any negative thoughts into a positive affirmation. Learn from your past challenges. Keep a focused, determined mind–set. Don't let anything or anyone knock you off your path! Making significant, long-term lifestyle changes to your exercise and dietary behaviors is not easy. I want to be very straight forward. It will take a consistent, focused effort. However, I will promise you, the results of your commitment will be many times, more than worth the effort. You are worth it! May you achieve all of your 2011 resolutions.

Have a wonderful and healthy New Year!

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