Ask around, and you’ll find that a few of the most frequently mentioned New Year’s Resolutions are to lose weight and initiate a fitness program.
Experts tell us that a disciplined plan of action is key to achieving health and fitness goals, and that it’s not only a day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month affair; it’s about changing your entire lifestyle. Some local experts share their insight on how to approach comprehensive wellness in 2013.
A few easy tips
Kristi Zwiefel, registered dietitian at Van Diest Medical Center, offers her a few tips for weight and eating management:
• Work to make healthy choices instead of focusing on weight loss. Abandon the diet mentality, no more deprivation. View food as fuel for your body, not as an emotional comfort.
• Follow your hunger and satiety cues. Eat when you are physically hungry, not when you are stressed, depressed or lonely. Don’t let yourself get to the “starving” stage, and eat only until you are “comfortably full,” not stuffed.
• Be conscious of your eating. Don’t rush through meals; savor your food. Focus on the texture in your mouth and the taste. Don’t eat while watching TV or driving.
• Don’t let good nutrition feel like a diet. Don’t categorize foods as “good” or “bad.” Make more nutritious food choices because you want to, not because you should.
• Be sure to move your body on a regular basis. Don’t force yourself to exercise.
Kent Harfst, assistant city manager/recreation and public grounds director, shares some advice for those starting new exercise routines as part of their New Year’s resolutions.
“We do have a lot of persons wanting to make a lifestyle change the first of the year. The most important thing for these ‘resolution persons’ is to make sure they do not have any health concerns and see a doctor first,” Harfst says. “The second most important thing is to find an exercise that is enjoyable and to not overdo it.”
Harfst says there are a wide variety of classes and equipment folks can take advantage of at Fuller Hall such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, exercise bicycles, step machines and arc trainers. The weight room features weight machines, free weights and plate weights. The swimming pool offers individual fitness or aquacise classes both morning and evening. There are racquetball courts for racquetball and wallyball; and the gym is great for pickup games of basketball, volleyball and dodge ball.
Pound the pavement
Running is the ideal exercise for many people for many reasons: it can be done almost any time, anywhere; it can be long or short distances and at varying strides; and it requires mainly a pair of running shoes and the appropriate attire for the weather.
Some prefer the solitude of running alone, but two Webster City women — Lori Foster and Julie Olmstead — find that running together helps them better stick to their routine.
“Having a running buddy definitely helps, and finding a time that fits your schedule is extremely important for consistency and continuity,” says Foster. “Having a friend and loyal running partner keeps us both accountable, knowing the other person will be out there waiting to go.”
Olmstead says having a close friend to run with has been a blessing because they share the same love for the activity and it has created a wonderful friendship, “ … all because we decided to put on a pair of tennis shoes one day and run together.”
She also notes that it helps pass the time when you have someone to chat with while you work out.
Both women started with brisk walking, and began to add running a little at a time.
“I realized while walking I could get to the end faster if I ran,” Olmstead says.
They’ve been runners for several years now. Currently the two do a six-mile run twice a week, and a longer 10- to 12-mile run on weekends. They also participate in competitive races and cross-train with other activities to challenge different muscles and help avoid injury.
“The only modifications we make with regard to changes in the weather and seasons would be the time we plan to leave on a long run — possibly to beat the heat or fend off inclement weather moving in — and to dress or layer clothing appropriately, depending on the season and temperatures,” Foster says.
Olmstead says running year-round is something they’ve gotten used to.
“Unless it is a blizzard or ice storm, chances are you will probably see us out there. If it is icy or super snowy, we put on our Yak Tracks for traction, and a nice wool sock for warmth, and we are off,” she adds.
The benefits of running are many, including stress relief and release of pent-up energy, personal challenge, staying in shape and weight management, and time to think about the upcoming day.
“I love to start my day with exercise, and nothing compares to the feeling of a good run in the great outdoors,” Foster says. “It helps to wake me up, plan my day and sometimes provides much-needed clarity.”
The runners’ advice to anyone wanting to begin a routine is to start slowly and build from there, eventually adding either distance or speed, depending on the goal. A run-walk combination can help burn fat more effectively and increase endurance. They suggest setting achievable goals and following a training plan, and listening to your body by not overdoing it.
Tips to help with the daily struggle
Last year, Nancy Keane created her own cardio/kickboxing/strength training class, Turbo Power, which she teaches at The Dance Connection.
The instructor counts herself among those who struggle daily with balancing proper diet and exercise and offers her “Top 10” suggestions for a healthier lifestyle in the new year.
• Eat breakfast. Have a high fiber/protein filled meal.
• Cut back/out high caloric drinks such as pop and flavored coffees. Drink water instead.
• Plan meals ahead. Take a healthy snack or pack your lunch when you go to work or on a trip so you know the calories you are consuming. Pay attention to what you are eating.
• Use a smaller plate. You tend to fill up whatever size plate you use.
• Eat vegetables and fruits first to fill up on healthy foods before other items.
• Schedule time for your workout.
• Stretch and stay flexible. The best time to stretch is after your muscles are warm. Always warm up a little before stretching. • Work out with a friend or join a class. Friends help keep you accountable and make it more fun.
• Keep positive thoughts.
• Add strength training and variety to your workouts.
Learn the fundamentals
A yoga instructor since 2005, Catherine Nedved currently teaches Kundalini and Flow yoga in Ames and locally at Shanti Wellness Day Spa.
She says most people come to yoga for the physical aspect and stress relief and that it’s something men, women and children of all ages can participate in at whatever level one’s body allows. Classes often follow a series of physical poses for specific outcomes.
The instructor designs her classes based on themes. For example, her theme for 2013 is “Yoga-Alive,” and in January she will concentrate class practice in the areas of weight loss, vitality, strength and waking up the body, mind and spirit.
“When you are first starting out, you need to learn the fundamentals of yoga,” Nedved explains. “There is a science to bringing oxygen into your body. If you want to become more flexible, it comes with the depth of your breath.”
Yoga can easily be practiced in a class or individually at home. Those practicing at home may follow a book or DVD. Loose-fitting clothing and a sticky mat are the only equipment required.
“Yoga is a journey, not a goal. It helps bring awareness so life can be better enjoyed. Yoga does not take away problems but gives you the tools to deal with them,” she says.
Relaxation is one such tool.
“Many people want to start the new year with a fitness and weight loss program,” Nedved says. “Some studies show that people who can’t relax have a harder time or can’t lose weight. Yoga can be practiced in a way that strengthens, stretches, tones and relaxes the body.”
Nedved says there is a misconception that you have to already be flexible and in shape to practice yoga.
“You start where you are, and when practiced with awareness, those who are not as flexible may actually get more benefit than those that can hold a posture perfectly,” she says. “That is the beauty of the practice; it is a personal experience.”
People who have a difficult time finding the right time to work out will surely appreciate the flexible schedule at Snap Fitness, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes and free weights are all available at Snap, as are Zumba and Bootcamp classes.
Brady Kern, Snap Fitness manager and Zumba instructor, says the Bootcamp class focuses on cardio and strength training and appeals to beginners or people who want to change their workout routine. She shares the success stories of two different women in their 60s who both lost 10 inches in body measurement after Bootcamp.
Another man, 40, lost more than five inches off his hips, and another woman, 25, lost seven pounds on a recent four-week challenge, working out just twice a week.
It helps to have a partner when starting a new routine, says Kern.
“Set short-term and long-term goals for your workout,” she says.
The options for starting or maintaining healthy habits in the new year are numerous. Invest your efforts in a fitness resolution and give yourself a launch pad for starting your new year and your new life.