A time to be resolute

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  • AP photo Four Australians attend a New Year’s Eve celebration in Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 31, 2015.

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    AP photo Three New Yorkers rest behind a barrier as the 2016 New year’s Eve festivities wind down in Times Square on Dec. 31, 2015.

  • AP photo Four Australians attend a New Year’s Eve celebration in Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 31, 2015.

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    AP photo Three New Yorkers rest behind a barrier as the 2016 New year’s Eve festivities wind down in Times Square on Dec. 31, 2015.

Another year is in the books, and another round of New Year’s resolutions is upon us.

After the Thankgiving-through Christmas season of treats, large meals and large amounts of leftovers, the bulge on the waist beckons some attention.

Also, the melancholy may set in if you’ve tried to lose that holiday weight (or just lose weight or get in better shape in general) and couldn’t succeed in the past.

So how do you ensure this time will be different?

First off, you need to be realistic. Will you really follow through with the time and effort needed to see you realize your goals?

Gains are often difficult to see the first couple weeks as it takes your body time to overcome its natural metabolic state. If you gained 10 pounds in the last month and a half, don’t expect to drop it in a month and a half.

OK, now you’ve decided to put in the effort, and really buckle down with your diet and exercise. Maybe you’ve even joined a gym or are set upon using that membership you currently have. What to do first?

Plot a course

Dreaming that you’ll eat 500 calories less each day right off the bat has the potential to leave your body craving calories. A big change in the diet at all meals is sure to make your body declare mutiny.

When you increase activity, you need to make sure your protein intake is high enough to aid in the muscle development and recovery of daily workouts.

One of the biggest errors people make when starting a new exercise routine is carb-loading after exercise. Your body has just gone through some activity it isn’t used to, and it reacts by sending signals to top off its reserves. Unfortunately, many people take this as an excuse to go ahead and plow through a bag of chips or two helpings of dinner, eliminating all the gains from the day’s activities.

Instead, you need to be aware and make a concerted effort to not overeat. If you’ve had dinner, mentally take the position that the kitchen is closed for the evening. Find something to take your mind off the cravings. Read a good book, watch some television or do a relaxing hobby for a few hours until bedtime. Soon, you’ll wake up refreshed and ready for another active day.

The effects of sugar

It’ll take your body a few weeks to stop craving all that sugar it was being fed late in the year. Sugar tends to make people feel lethargic when a high enough concentration is present, and if you’ve really stepped up the fudge, cakes and pies of the holiday season, and then cut the sugar intake drastically, your body will remain in limbo while it sorts out this new diet.

Here’s a little tip I have found helpful from back in the years when I packed on the holiday pounds. Activity — any activity — is your friend. Ride that momentum you’ve built removing all those holiday decorations and do anything and everything to get your mind off food between meals. Get up, clean the house or the garage, re-sort those boxes you’ve been meaning to go through and toss all that stuff you know you’ll never need.

If you have room to exercise at home or if you are a gym member, try to make workouts a daily routine.

Make sure you don’t overdo it — slowly work up to a heavier routine. Walk before you jog, jog before you run and so on. Using weights in your workouts? Don’t grab those you can only pump a handful of times before having to stop, bend over and gasp for air. Hand weights in the 2-4 pound range can assist in giving you a great, low-impact workout.

If you have been inactive for quite some time, don’t take on a 2-hour workout right out of the gate. Again, work up to that level of activity. There are plenty of types of equipment at local gyms that can give you a nice workout 15 minutes at a time. At home, body-weight exercises can go a long way in providing long-term fitness.

Weight loss

through exercise

Tipping the scale 7-10 pounds heavier this January? You want to lose that weight and you think that if you just increase your activity and keep your caloric intake status quo will do the trick? Think again. For the reasons I mentioned above, your increased activity is bound to increase your appetite as well. Unless you’re some professional athlete who is used to extremely hard workouts of 2,000 calories or more on a daily basis, those large meals (and large snack) won’t make that scale tip in your favor between now and 2018.

Again, small changes in diet and activity — carried out and enhanced over a long period of time — will get you back to the shape and weight you want to achieve. Be patient and ever-vigilant, and keep your eye on the prize.

Peer pressure

and support

Some people don’t do well when it comes to motivating themselves physically or digestively. Finding a group of like-minded people to exercise with can do a lot for the psyche and motivation to carry on and see this journey through. Likewise, trainers at local gyms can provide all the motivation and support you need if you want to go that route. Trainers can devise a realistic plan to help you attain your goals and make 2017 your best year ever.

•••

Jerry Hitchcock can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2017, via email at jhitchcock@cdapress.com, or follow him on Twitter at HitchTheWriter.

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