Healthy Husky: Exercising for Change

Belval in the KSI offices, taking a quick break. (Source: Shawn Kornegay)
Belval in the KSI offices, taking a quick break. (Source: Shawn Kornegay)

While New Year’s may seem like a distant past due to the now busy, shuffling life of the semester, an important part of New Year’s is still relevant. New Year’s resolutions are at or near their tipping point. The most common resolutions, involving weight loss or improving fitness, fall slave to the same trend every year. By February, individuals have either succeeded or failed to make a “new year” a “new you.”

Many of the reasons for failed resolutions are not linked to motivation. With unrealistic goals impossible fitness and diet plans, many individuals set themselves up for failure – sometimes by being overzealous. Therefore, here are some tips to either keep you motivated and on the right track or to give that New Year’s resolution another shot.

When it comes to goal setting, everyone likes to imagine how much better they would look 10, 20 or 30 pounds lighter – without giving much thought to how they will get from Point A to Point B. While the visualization is a great motivation tool, setting realistic goals and developing incentives is key. By picking out an item of clothing that you would like to fit into on your way to your ultimate goal, you can begin to see changes on a physical scale – which can be more rewarding than seeing it on the scale on your bathroom floor.

While “The Biggest Loser” may be all about the extreme weight loss, this is impractical and difficult for the average person. One pound per week is a very realistic goal for the majority of individuals. This weight loss alone takes discipline and lifestyle changes. Remember that one pound of fat loss is equivalent to 3500 calories. So, to make things easy, some combination of eating less and exercising more is necessary to cut 500 calories a day each day of the week. For reference, 500 calories is about two slices of pizza or about an hour of running.

Another key principle to maintaining fitness goals is to make lifestyle changes rather than following fads. By making eating healthy and exercising more a true sustainable daily habit you can ensure that you will not fall victim to the lack of variety that comes with many diet trends. There is no rule that states you can only lose weight through one exercise or that you must eat the same meals everyday. In fact, that is a sure-fire way to end up gaining back the weight you lost. Instead, it is important to understand the healthy choices you can make in variety of circumstances that will lead you to success. When you are sitting down for a meal, it can often be easier to think about what food is healthier than worrying about the exact amount of calories.

While excitement inevitably comes with any plan to become healthier, it’s also easy to get overwhelmed. If and when this happens, start small. By making one small change every day for a week, you will see a drastic change over the course of seven days. It takes about 21 days for a new habit to truly set in, so don’t give up too soon and you may begin next year with new resolutions.

Luke Belval, an undergraduate student in the Neag School of Education’s kinesiology program, is a campus correspondent with The Daily Campus. Belval is also director of special projects with the Korey Stringer Institute, which is part of the Neag School of Education.

Published with permission from The Daily Campus. 2014