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It takes a marathon approach, not a sprint, to achieve lasting change

Feel good boardIs adopting a healthier lifestyle on your commitment list for 2019?

If so, good on you.

But here is the real question – will you still be following through on it a month from now, two months from now, or will you have already fallen off the wagon?

The simple truth is, most people abandon their new year’s commitments within weeks. They sabotage their efforts by taking on too much, too fast. Take weight loss—the often-quoted statistic is that only about 20 per cent of people succeed in cutting their weight by 10 per cent and keeping it off for a year.

Maybe the hardcore boot camp approach works for some people, but for most of us, adapting new and lasting habits demands a more gradual approach.

Despite all the misleading advertising and spam email that bombards us with promises of epic results within weeks or even days, real and lasting change takes time. Consider it this way – if you can’t take a set of stairs without huffing and puffing, you didn’t arrive at this state overnight. Reversing the damage will take time, too.

Calories in, calories out – it’s really that simple:

Don’t get caught up in fads and trends, whether it’s keto or any other program that touts some miracle weight loss food or some magical combination of macronutrients (your proteins, fats, and carbohydrates). Bottom line, to lose weight you must burn more calories in a day than you consume. Moderation, with a balanced diet, is key. Apps like MyFitnessPal are a great way, and really the only practical way, to track this.

Don’t be so stringent with yourself that you end up craving and binging:

Yes, that Grande latte from a certain coffee shop has as many calories as a Big Mac, and it’s loaded with fat and sugar. And that big frosted cinnamon bun from that bakery at the mall counts as two Big Macs (no, we are not making this up). Indulge in those luxuries a couple of times a week and it will likely sabotage your efforts. But you can’t deny yourself all the time. So, pick your battles, control your portions. Again, apps like MyFitnessPal help you track total sugar intake throughout the day along with everything else. (Revisit our past post on the evils of sugar.)

Apply the same measured and moderate approach at the gym:

Sure, there is some truth in “no pain, no gain.” But it really depends on what your goals are. If you want the physique of a competitive bodybuilder, that’s a whole other discussion. If you just want to lean out and tone up, frequency is more important than intensity. Long bouts of intense exercise can actually work against you because it stimulates production of your body’s stress hormones. As a result, your body fights to keep the belly fat you want to lose.

Again, no magic bullet with exercise:

A well-rounded combination of cardio exercise and weight training is the ideal approach for most people. This will support steady and sustainable fat loss while at the same time maintaining muscle mass – active muscles burn more calories. The more muscle mass you have, the more energy your body burns throughout the day. (Check out our past post on whether six-pack abs are worth the effort.)

Get professional help:

Quite often, people fall off the wagon because they simply lack the necessary knowledge about good nutrition to make healthy and sustainable changes, or about how to effectively workout on their own in the gym. But there are lots of resources out there. Here in our Kanata Chiropractic clinic, we can refer you to local personal trainers and dietitians with whom we have worked. This is also the time of year when just about every fitness club and gym is offering some kind of deal to get you in the door. These quite often include some personal training and coaching sessions on the cheap – take advantage of them.

Not only will a qualified expert help get you on track, they can help you set a long-term plan with obtainable goals and reasonable expectations for your progress. And if your body is fighting your weight loss efforts, they can help you fine-tune to achieve better results.

Ultimately, this is a marathon, not a race:

Reaching your health and fitness goals takes time, effort, and commitment. Pace yourself. We are all creatures of habit and need time to adjust. Whether it’s in the kitchen or the gym, find the groove that will work for you long-term. Going hardcore right of the start is more likely to burn you out than achieve the results you want.

If you have any questions please give us a call!

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