New Years resolutions

5 tools to supercharge your resolutions!

2014 tools resolutions weight loss improvement

I hate New Year’s Day. It’s that time of year when I flog myself over holiday misdeeds of over-eating, not meditating and being too sedentary. My diet for the last month has mostly consisted of cookies and meat — a kind of of modified Paleo. I rarely got to the gym and didn’t eat a single fruit all Christmas, if you don’t count the raspberry jam in the thumbprint cookies I snarfed.

I scramble for a resolution that will shortcut me to greater fitness, flexibility and the loss of those extra pounds that have overstayed their welcome like a bad holiday guest. But, the good thing is, at the age of 52, I’ve had some success in personal transformation.

It’s times like these, when the inky darkness of winter and post-holiday doldrums threaten to engulf me, that I think on past victories and remember the principles and practices that have led to lasting transformation. Maybe they’ll help you too.

Acceptance
Nine years ago I had an uncomfortable moment of truth when unexpectedly viewing a photo of myself in a bathing suit. It was a brown, ruched affair and I looked exactly like an unhappy potato on legs. After a fat caliper test, I was appalled to learn of a body fat percentage of 30% — sneakily close to obese. Instead of denying reality or hating myself and drowning in a sea of Ben & Jerry’s, I calmly made peace with my body as it was — then lost twenty pounds.

Forgiveness
The best time to make a meaningful change in life is (insert number) years ago. The next best time is today. I stayed in a sad and unfulfilling marriage for 25 years. It was tempting to blame myself for the lost years and all the love not gotten, but it was pointless. I could not have left a moment sooner than I did. I looked kindly on the girl I was, embraced her anyway, and learned from her mistakes to build a new life of love and fulfillment.

Teachability
I was a stiff-necked kid who couldn’t be taught a single thing — an unfortunate result of being a naturally talented, overly adored first-born girl in a competitive family. But, talent is a bus that doesn’t go to the end of the line without a refuel — that’s where teachers and receptivity come in.

When I entered my thirties and wanted to progress in music, my father delicately suggested I take voice lessons from his choirmaster. The teacher could not have been more encouraging, and soon I quit bellowing like a moose and started really singing. A good teacher (and a willing attitude) has been the fastest way to learning new skills and making big life changes.

Moderation
When I was 18 and a freshman in college I started running with the cross-country team. I went from being relatively sedentary to running five miles a day — every day. On the advent of our big first meet, my lower legs were in excruciating pain. A doctor’s visit diagnosed shin splints — painful micro-breaks in the shinbones — a result of over-training.

As an adult, I’ve learned to pace myself and get some form of exercise every day, even if it’s just a leisurely walk with a friend. On icy, windy days I might choose the stationary bike in the basement with the latest from Netflix. At times I take it easy on myself and do almost nothing physically. After 34-some years of mostly continual fitness, I’m in it for the long haul and realize that slow and steady truly does win the race.

Courage
Two years before quitting my job, I knew I wanted to walk away. But, the idea of leaving a 30-year career filled me with anxiety. For all my blather about taking chances and being adventurous, I am, essentially, a groove creature.

After crunching the numbers with my husband and determining we could (frugally) live on his income, I hit a wall. I called it every name in the book, but it was generic, yellow-labeled fear. I drew on the wisdom of Mark Twain’s bromide, “Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it” and jumped into the abyss and got to work. I have not looked back. Now fear is taken as a sign that I’m onto something. Let the adventure begin!

This year, I have made some resolutions: put away my clothes after wearing them; lose five pounds; write a business plan; complete that book I’ve been talking about for years; write thank you notes; de-clutter the house. Some of them I’ll honor, others will burst like yesterday’s champagne bubbles. What I won’t do is hate, nag or be unkind to myself. That’s one resolution I’m planning on keeping.

 

Fifty, fit and fabulous! – 10 tips.

fit-50-fifty-fabulous

This morning I weighed myself and didn’t dread it. Why? At 50-something years old, I took those impossible ten pounds off, kept them off, and have (mostly) maintained good eating and fitness. And, in spite of all the fun and food of the holidays, I only gained back a pound of it.

I didn’t keep the weight off by starving myself, not drinking alcohol or being a workout nut. I just kept some simple practices I’ve developed over the years. I’m sharing them in the hope that they might encourage you — and keep my own resolve strong!

Love yourself. Unconditionally, right now, where you are, who you are, and how you look. Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror and take in your beautiful body — bumps, bulges, warts and all. Self-loathing has no place in your tool kit and can only sabotage you. Look at yourself and love yourself. No exceptions.

Weigh yourself. Not hatefully or self-punishingly, but mindfully. Accept where you are, but have a goal weight that is reasonable and achievable. Weigh yourself daily or weekly, whatever keeps you aware of your progress.

Move everyday. I didn't say exercise. Every January the gym is jammed with folks who want to lose those holiday pounds (again) and start an exercise program. By March they are all gone. Instead, embrace movement that you like; gardening, walking with a friend, running, skating, swimming, yoga, dancing or whatever works for you.

Eat chocolate. There. I said it. People wanting to lose weight frequently punish themselves and refrain from all desserts and sweets. This degree of deprivation can only last so long until natural cravings kick in and all resolve crumbles. Yes, refrain from donuts, cookies, pie and ice cream (fat, salt and sugar bombs), but eat that dark chocolate truffle and savor it.

Cook veggies. And not frozen peas boiled in water. Experiment with herbs, oils, cheeses and nuts. How about roasted asparagus with basting oil, pepper and sea salt? Or fresh green beans with butter, fresh dill and almond slivers? The proper seasoning and cooking method can make a hum-drum vegetable into a treat.

Avoid the whites. White sugar, flour, pasta and rice provide empty calories and spike blood sugar – this leads to cravings, binging and ultimately more pounds. Cut out sugar and substitute whole-wheat products for white. You’ll feel fuller and eat less.

Lift weights. I hate lifting weights, but notice that the women at the gym who are slim and sexy lift weights. Strength training is the secret weapon in a fit girl’s arsenal. Muscle burns energy (calories) and shapes a body beautifully. Start out slow and moderately and build up to 2 - 3x a week. And don’t worry, unless you’re a body builder you won’t bulk up.

Dress beautifully. Whether or not you’re near your goal weight, dress as though you like yourself. Choose clothes that are neither too loose nor too tight — clothes that enhance your curves or height — your unique features. The better you dress, the better you’ll feel about your body.

Get a buddy. Enlist the aid of a spouse or friend to encourage you in making better choices. Walk with them, share your goals, cheer each other on and win together. Most communities have running, hiking and walking clubs. Find one and join with others who are like-minded.

Embrace moderation. Do nothing today that you can’t see continuing for a lifetime. Fitness and good nutrition need to be slowly incorporated one-day-at-a-time into a healthy lifestyle. Fad diets and harsh workout regimes don’t work for anyone. Right now, make one or two simple, achievable goals. In the months and years to come, build on that.

I hope these tips inspire and show that fitness and good health belong to all of us — even you!