If you are like me, you have told yourself numerous times "this is the last time I'll... (just fill in your favorite resolution here). We like to make dramatic statements, after overindulging, breaking our promises to ourselves and feeling guilty about not having willpower. These grand sweeping statements that always start tomorrow or on Monday are usually short lived and unmanageable in our hectic work and obligation driven world. Instead of making grand pronouncements about creating a new life, just fit small changes into your current life, allowing time for adjustment and use of your energy.
The small changes can lead to long lasting habits that will carry you into a future of good health and lower body fat.
Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your life to make the changes you need to get the body you want:
1. Add short intense bursts of cardio activity daily.
Start with 10 minutes and then over the next few months increase your time by 2 minutes per week. Before you know it you will be on the treadmill, elliptical machine or bike 30 to 40 minutes and feeling great.
2. Purchase a pedometer and track how much you move during the course of a day.
Your ideal goal should be 10,000 steps per day (most people average about 2500 ). Look for every opportunity to move- stairs, parking lots, walk to work, play in your backyard with the kids, do some gardening or just clean your house. It all adds up. Start small- just set a goal that is reasonable for you - Maybe 500- 1000 steps is workable-get off the couch and just do something!
3. Eventually you will get up to 10,000 steps per day
which adds up to an hour of daily exercise which will control weight, improve blood lipid profiles, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. You will lower your risk for developing all major chronic diseases that stem from obesity.
4. Eat only when you sit
(and never in front of the TV). Never eat while standing! Unconscious eating is less satisfying and leads to over consumption. Always sit down and enjoy every bite. Common places we fall down in this area- cooking dinner and tasting, clearing the kids plates and eating leftovers, standing in front of the fridge and foraging, and eating while driving or walking
5. Strengthen your core.
Start with just 15 to 20 crunches first thing in the morning. Increase by one each day until you hit 50. When you find that easy begin doing bicycle moves, one side at a time, and reverse crunches. (see YouTube for videos if you don't know how to do these). A strong lower back and solid abs are a way to stay pain free and mobile as you get older. Older joints wear out and require more stabilization from the surrounding muscles to maintain their integrity.
6. Add one new fruit or vegetable to your diet this week.
Be adventurous and get beyond your usual habitual choices. Try a tropical fruit like papaya, mango and explore a new type of green -Kale, beet greens, broccoli raab, Swiss chard or baby salad greens. The high fiber in fruits and vegetables satisfies you for longer on less calories and the phyto-nutrients are better than any supplement or vitamin you can take.
Now, pick just one of these and and do it consistently over the next three weeks and see what happens. You'll be surprised how one small change leads to making you happier and healthier without too much disruption to your current life.
Jim was selected by the Men's Journal as one of the 100 Best Trainers in America in 2004, and is currently a professional personal fitness trainer and nutrition consultant specializing in helping men over 50.