SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For many people, the start of a new year brings new enthusiasm, a new outlook, and many times, new fitness goals. This will be the year they finally quit smoking, shed unwanted pounds or shave minutes off their fitness-assessment run.
According to a Health magazine study, however, only 46 percent of people who make fitness related New Year's resolutions have maintained their goals just six months later.
Charles Hurlbut, Schriever Health and Wellness Center, health and fitness specialist, says that's because many people tend to make unrealistic resolutions.
"Many New Year's Resolutions revolve around losing weight, looking like you did 20-plus years ago, or impressing your significant other," he said. "That is a great starting point, or long term goal, however, it is the path you take that can make or break your goal."
Bing Hack, a personal trainer at the Schriever Air Force Base Fitness Center, agrees.
"People who write down their short-term goals tend to be more successful than those who simply make a resolution," he said. "Writing a goal down is important because it helps people remain accountable to themselves, and thus, helps them maintain consistency through a long period."
When Airmen, spouses and civilians approach him for advice on improving their nutrition or fitness, Hurlbut relays the SMART principle of goal setting.
"SMART is an acronym for setting specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and trackable goals," he said. "If they say, 'I want to get in shape,' my first response is, 'what does that mean?' Do they want to lose weight, do they want to tone up or do they want to work out at the gym more often?"
Too often, he encounters people who have set super-human goals.
"I get a lot of people who want to lose weight, no matter the cost," Hurlbut said. "Having a goal of going to the gym seven days a week, when you are not going now, might be unrealistic. People should start with a smaller short-term goal, like going to the gym three days this week. That way they are still going to the gym, but not setting the bar too high."
Weight loss goals often fall into this unrealistic category as well. Hurlbut explained that through proper nutrition and exercise, people should see from a half to two pounds of weight loss per week. Anything more than that is unsustainable.
"One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so having a 500-calorie deficit each day will yield one to two pounds of weight loss," he said. The 500 calories can come from eating slightly less or from exercise. "Our BodPod can calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate so you know how many calories you need throughout the day. It also calculates percentage of body fat."
Hurlbut recommends people not make drastic changes to their diet, but instead, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables.
"What happens is they get a few weeks into their new all-organic diet and realize they either can't afford to continue or don't have the time to prepare their new meals. Instead, maybe they should look into replacing soda or energy drinks with water," he said.
Weight loss resolvers sometimes think that eating less will help, but it's important to eat every two to three hours to boost one's metabolism.
"Try driving a car on an empty tank; you won't get very far," he said. "If you're only eating two meals a day, your body responds by storing those calories for energy later. It doesn't know when you're going to feed it next, so it compensates."
As for tracking progress, there are tons of smart-phone applications and online websites that can help. The Schriever HAWC can recommend several based on individual goals.
For those who manage to maintain their resolutions for a few months, it's important to reward that success, but those seeking to lose weight shouldn't do so with food and those who have made a new habit of working out shouldn't skip a day at the gym.
"Go out and buy yourself a new outfit or a swimsuit, or even new shoes," Hurlbut said. "These types of rewards tend to reinforce your progress."
For more information on successful goal setting, nutrition and smoking cessation or to schedule a BodPod session [by appointment only] visit the Schriever HAWC or call 567-4292.