It’s the first couple of days after the start of the New Year and Facebook and Twitter are flooded with countless posts describing New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, or become more active in their daily routine.
Unfortunately, many people will find themselves losing the motivation to stick to their guns and maintain their newfound healthy lifestyles.
Doug Pinkerton, director of the Campus Recreation, Fitness & Wellness Center at Delta State University, said the main reason people tend to become unmotivated is because they begin by setting unrealistic goals.
“I think one important thing is to realize that it’s not going to happen over night,” said Pinkerton. “You have to start small with your goals and be patient.”
Cary Moore, a local dietician, also recommended that having someone to exercise with is the best way to stay on track.
“I think one thing that would help is to have someone or a group of people to help keep each other accountable,” said Moore. “Focus on one thing at a time and having a buddy can help make sure you are accomplishing your goals.”
Pinkerton cautioned against investing too heavily in the newest fitness and diet crazes.
Instead, he said it’s important to understand that we need to be good to our bodies, which means putting healthier foods into our bodies and finding a variety of activities that we enjoy.
“People get excited about these fancy new workouts but they don’t continue them,” said Pinkerton. “It’s important to do simple things like walking, jogging or cycling. Find some things that you will enjoy because if you enjoy it, you’ll continue to do it. And mix it up so you don’t get burned out.
“I think we need to realize that we can and need to exercise but it’s really about what we consume,” explained Pinkerton. “We need to exercise but it’s not good to exercise and eat ice cream all day. You have to find a balance and be smart. Moderation is key.”
Moore said that at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day is ideal but recommended consulting with a doctor in order to ensure the right level of activity is being met.
According to recent studies by the NPD Group, a global market research firm, Americans are still not incorporating enough fruits and vegetables into their daily diet.
Moore agreed with the data, stressing that fruits and vegetable should be the main foods that people reach for in order to accomplish their healthy New Years resolutions.
“Studies show nationwide that people in general are lacking in fruits and vegetables,” said Moore. “People need to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their diets: for fruits generally it should be two to two and a half cups and for vegetables it should be about three cups a day.”
Now, what about cheat days? Is it going to ruin your New Year’s resolutions to have days set aside to indulge in fast food or your favorite ice cream? Both Pinkerton and Moore agreed that balance and moderation is key.
“I think you have to be careful with cheat days,” said Pinkerton. “It could lead to failure down the road because you can really put in more than you realize, but I think you can enjoy what you eat … but in moderation.”
“When I teach people about a healthy meal plan, I never say, ‘Never have another Snickers,’ because I know they’ll go right out and get one,” said Moore. “So plan to have days like that but be sure that the next day to get right back on track. If you don’t allow yourself times to enjoy some of those things in life you’ll be non-compliant the rest of the time.”