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Get In Shape - Really
Photo: Jitka Saniova
With New Year’s comes your annual resolution to lose weight and get in shape. This year you are going to do it.

Of course, you said that last year—and the year before that, and the year before that. Yet as a fresh year dawns, you are just as out of shape, and just as overweight as last year. Well, not just as overweight—a little more overweight.

No problem. You will sign up at a new gym, and get a new diet book—and next year will be the same as this year. 

Ready to get serious?

A permanent weight loss means a permanent change in diet. A permanent change in your physical condition means a permanent change in your exercise habits. Anything less, and you slide back to where you started. Begin by forgetting about diets. A diet is a temporary thing. It is also unhealthy. The only thing worse than being really overweight is yo-yoing back and forth between sort-of-overweight and really overweight. 

Decide how you are going to permanently alter your eating habits. Start by cutting back. Eat less. Forgo seconds.  Skip snacking. Those two things can significantly change the amount of calories you take in. Other simple ways to lose weight include eliminating alcohol. Not only does beer get you drunk—it has a lot of calories. Whatever you do, make it sustainable. If you hate what you eat, you are not going to stick to it. Enjoy meals—increase unrefined carbohydrates and eat adequate protein and fiber, while cutting back on fats and refined carbohydrates. If you need to feel full, fill up on salad greens, fruits and vegetables not white pasta and rolls. 

Next, increase your exercise. Exercise helps burn calories, but it also has other health benefits—including lowering blood pressure and combating depression. Again, the key is sustainable exercise. Look for simple, cheap, and available. A daily walk of a mile or more will do more for your health than membership in a fancy gym that you never visit. Spend 20 minutes of your lunch hour going up and down the stairs in the building where you work.

Look for low-cost alternatives to expensive gyms. Is there a community center or weight room in the subdivision or apartment complex where you live? Does your business have a work-out room or offer discounted membership at a nearby gymnasium? If it is close, convenient, and cheap, you may actually go there to work out. And unless you go—regularly—membership in a club or gym is meaningless.

Get a buddy to exercise with. Walking with your spouse or kids is a good way to spend time together and reduces the temptation to skip a day. 

Get your dog used to a daily walk. It is hard to say no when your dog wants its run. 

The key is sustainability. Keep it up for at least six week. Make it a habit, and exercise becomes part of your daily routine. As with your eating, think permanently. Do this, and next New Year’s you can look back, and be proud. You stuck to it.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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