The celebration of a new year is here and with it comes the opportunity to make resolutions. One of the most common resolutions is to lose weight, which was ranked #1 on a list of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions according to a Journal of Clinical Psychology study at the University of Scranton.
However, maintaining those resolutions is difficult. According to the same study, 75 percent of participants surveyed maintained their resolution throughout the first week of the new year, but only 46 percent stuck to their resolution six months into the new year.
This decrease in maintaining fitness-oriented resolutions could be attributed to a lack of commitment or unrealistic goals, said Vanessa Santiago, a nutritionist and certified personal trainer at Wepa Fit. Her company, Wepa Fit, helps clients from Puerto Rico to Phoenix online and onsite with sports nutrition, corporate wellness and fitness competition preparation, along with other fitness and nutrition services.
“If [people] said they want to lose 30 pounds this year and if they don’t see changes right away, they get frustrated. It’s because they want instant gratification right away,” Santiago said.
There are ways, however, to mitigate this problem and stay committed to fitness goals. Santiago said she advises people to write out what their goals are and place these written goals where the
y are easily seen.
As for the goals themselves, Santiago said starting out small with “one simple change” is important to make a difference in one’s fitness.
“[People] don’t have to go and sign up for the gym for the year. They can start walking around the neighborhood, or they can incorporate yoga. Just start small,” she said. “Because most
people go all out, and within two months, they stop working out.”
Education is a crucial part of maintaining fitness goals, Santiago said, bec
ause if people don’t know what to do at the gym, they can become overwhelmed and might even end up quitting. This research includes picking a plan that works specifically for the person trying to accomplish it. She said talking to a professional or using YouTube is the best way to achieve this goal.
“Not everybody has the same needs or not everybody has the same schedule, so they have to choose something that works for them, not because their friend is doing this,” she said. “Some people jump in and start doing CrossFit because everybody’s doing CrossFit. That’s not for everybody. The same for yoga. They have to do some research.”
Along with working out, people with fitness goals should also focus on improving their nutrition as well. Santiago said nutrition is a critical part of maintaining fitness goals.
Nutrition is not only important for those looking to lose weight. Those who are at a healthy weight with an unhealthy diet are still at risk for hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes, all of which are associated with poor nutrition, according to the website for the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.
“Nutrition provides the fuel that our bodies need to produce energy and to repair and rebuild muscle, so it doesn’t matter how long a person takes at the gym if they don’t properly feed their muscles or refuel, they’re not going to reach their goal,” Santiago said.
Santiago described the ways a person might adjust their diet depending on what specific fitness goals they have in mind.
“If one is trying to build muscle, they have to eat accordingly to that goal. They need to increase the amount of protein and the amount of carbs, and they have to choose their fats carefully. If someone’s trying to lose weight, they can go to the gym but if they go home and keep eating the same amount of food they will never lose weight,” Santiago said.
Even with changes in nutrition and exercise, Santiago said on average, people should “give themselves three to six months to see a significant change,” depending on what the person’s specific fitness goal is and the kind of changes they have to make in their life in order to reach their goal. She stressed the importance of being fully committed to make a change in one’s life and accomplish a fitness goal.
“[People] have to do it slowly and consistently so they adapt to the new weight or changes,” Santiago said. “They don’t gain weight overnight; they cannot lose weight overnight.”