NEW GLASGOW, N.S. - Every year at this time gyms and fitness centres see a spike in members with resolutions to get thinner and fitter.
And every year in the weeks that follow that spike plateaus as people once determined, fail to follow through.
Amber Austin and Peter Guthro are wellness coaches at the Pictou County YMCA and say it doesn’t have to be this way.
They offer several tips for those who want to fulfil their goals.
Set realistic goals
Austin says her number one recommendation is to make small attainable goals starting out.
“If you make it too big of a goal, you set yourself up potentially for failure,” she said.
These goals will be different depending on where a person is at physically. For some it might mean setting a goal to start exercising three times a week. For others it will be to cut back from drinking two bottles of pop a day to one, or one every second day.
If you try to do everything all at once, you allow yourself to become overwhelmed and give up.
By going too hard too soon, you also risk injuring yourself, Guthro said.
Ask for help
One of the biggest recommendations Guthro gives people is to be willing to ask for help.
“When you’re first starting out at the gym it’s a big scary place that you don’t know where to go or where to start,” he said.
He suggests going up to a trainer or gym staff and asking them, “Where should I start?” or “What does this machine do?”
“We always have a staff on board that can take someone through and show them how to use everything properly.”
Find the exercise that works for you
Finding the right type of exercise is also important Guthro said. While some people may enjoy doing weights or other more individual activities, some people will benefit most by taking part in a class such as spinning or swimming.
“Maybe lifting weights for them isn’t their thing. But fitness isn’t only about lifting weights. It’s about getting out there and moving.”
Austin said that people who are new to the gym can particularly benefit by being part of a class and having an instructor.
“It takes the thinking side of it away,” she said. “The trainer or instructor tells you what to do and you just do it.”
She said it can also be a good way to stay committed because it’s a scheduled meeting.
“It takes people out of their comfort zone,” she said.
Exercise is only good if you have eat a balanced diet.
“You can come in here and you could work out hard every day, but if you go home and sabotage it with food, you’re not going to see it,” Austin said.
Guthro said there is an adage that says diet is 70 per cent and exercise is 30 per cent.
“I think that diet is 100 per cent and working out is 100 per cent,” he said. “You have to do both at 100 per cent to see the results.”
Don’t expect immediate results
One of the biggest reasons people quit after working out for a month or less is because they don’t see results.
Austin says it’s often a slow process.
“People think they should come to the gym and lose the weight right away, but it has to be a slow process. The quicker you take it off the quicker you put it on.”
She compares it to pregnancy. Women gain weight over a number of months and it takes a long time to get back to where they were when they started. The same is true of people who have gained weight over a long period. It takes a while to notice a difference.
“Changes happen the more you go, the more consistent you are, the more that you work towards a goal,” Guthro said.
Success can be measured in many ways and Guthro and Austin recommend people don’t focus solely on the number on the scale.
Guthro said he recommends that people take pictures of themselves each day and then look back.
“If you take a photo every day for 12 weeks and you go to the gym for 12 weeks, you’re going to see a difference for that year.”
Because weight can fluctuate from day to day, he recommends checking only once a week.
Austin said taking measurements of your inches is also a truer way to measure success than simply looking at weight.
“I know for a lot of women it’s easy to plateau and not lose a lot of weight, but you’re losing inches.”
Don’t quit when you slip up
Another common cause for people to quit is when they feel they’ve blown it by not exercising for a few days or binge eating on junk food.
Guthro and Austin advise people not to let that get them down but pick up where they left off
“You can start over the next day or the next week. You don’t have to say my progress is gone,” said Guthro
“Just start tomorrow. Make tomorrow your next day,” said Austin.