The Number One New Year’s Resolution

Surveys seem to disagree on whether weight loss/fitness is the number one New Year’s resolution or number two. I can tell you that it has been at the top of people’s lists, if not the number one position, for longer than I’ve been in practice. I suspect it’s been there since people first started making New Year’s resolutions.

The editorial and advertising content of many January issues of major magazines including magazines in newspapers, are filled with editorial content and advertising for fitness and weight loss

People buy more exercise equipment, or join gyms or weight loss programs around the beginning of the year than any other time of year (especially if you count Christmas presents.)

And by about the end of March, the exercise equipment is on sale on eBay and Craigslist, the gym memberships have been abandoned, and the weight loss classes just somehow don’t seem to make it onto the calendar anymore.

If you want to make a fitness or weight loss resolution and make it work, you need to listen to the advice you have heard for many years and ignored.

First, you really should visit your physician — or a physician versed in sports medicine — and get an assessment of your current fitness level. Furthermore, he or she can tell you about any disorders you might have that would make it difficult or even inadvisable to pursue a particular program or to lose weight. Suppose for example, that you have an as yet undiagnosed hormonal problem that has prevented you from losing weight in the past. Don’t you need to know about that before trying yet another unsuccessful program?

If you tell your physician about your goals for fitness and/or weight loss, he or she can give you an idea of how realistic your goals are.

If you give your physician specific details about the exercise or weight loss program you are thinking of joining, he or she can also warn you about programs that are scams or just plain dangerous.

All of the above, and more, are the very good reasons why it is constantly recommended that you consult a physician before adopting any new exercise, fitness and/or weight loss plan.

Second, you have to accept that weight loss and fitness are not fast and magical. Programs that work involve daily behavioral changes that include exercise, nutrition, motivational support and measurement of progress. Becoming fit is a lifestyle change, or perhaps, a series of lifestyle changes.

Third, you have to keep in mind that fitness and/or weight loss is not a one-time, get-it-done-and-over-with kind of thing. Once you have achieved your goal, there is the long-term maintenance of your achievement to consider. You have to keep your lifestyle changes. And constantly improve upon them. If you revert to your old habits, you will revert to your old body shape.

Yes, you’ve heard this all before. The reason that you’ve heard this all before is because it is accurate. Getting fit is a lifestyle change. Staying fit is a lifetime joy.

Please do it sensibly this time.