10 tips for sticking to a New Year's resolution for a healthier lifestyle

This holiday season, many will write “work out” or “lose weight” at the top of their New Year’s resolutions list. The new year is an opportunity to lead a healthier lifestyle, but many motivated individuals will throw in the towel only weeks into 2014.

If your New Year’s resolutions include improving your health, try these 10 tips from Gary Heshiki, a certified personal trainer and Le Cordon Bleu graduate based in the San Gabriel Valley.

1. Be positive.A positive attitude will make the biggest difference when you are making major changes in your life. Encouraging yourself and others will keep you focused on the times when you achieve your goals, not when you fall short. Keep a “glass half full” mentality and you’ll be on your way to a healthier body and mind in 2014.

2. Be specific about what you want.Specific goals help focus your attention and energy. “I want to lose 10 pounds” is a better goal than “I want to lose weight.” Even better would be “I want to lose 10 pounds so I can play with my kids without being out of breath.” The more specific you are when setting your goals, the easier it is to create a plan and stick to it.

A side of broccoli. | Photo by consumedithis on Flickr

3. Start small.As with all lifestyle changes, it can feel overwhelming to tackle large goals. If you have never been able to make exercise a habit, start with one or two days a week until it becomes second nature, then add more days. If you struggle with healthier food choices, try modifying your approach by eating meals more slowly or adding a serving of vegetables with every meal.

4. Keep a journal.How will you know if you are getting closer to your goals? A record of your weight loss and exercise regimen will give you a tangible way to track your results and objectives. Also try keeping a food diary to track your eating habits and improvements. 

5. Do not go on a restrictive diet.When you are not allowed to do or have something, you end up wanting it more. The same applies to your diet. Making large changes in your life can be tough enough — do not make it harder by creating unrealistic rules about what you cannot eat. They will only make you feel guilty if you break them. While a balanced diet is key to making long-lasting changes in your health, an occasional indulgence is fine.

6. Lift weights.Dumbbells are not just for men who want bigger biceps. Lifting weights helps increase bone density, improve posture, and strengthen muscles. An intense weightlifting session will burn calories over a 48-hour period, whereas cardio calorie burning ends shortly after you stop exercising. Lifting weights also has a greater effect on the body’s metabolism than just doing cardio alone.

7. Don’t skip cardio.While lifting weights is an important part of a workout, traditional cardio like running burns more calories and builds endurance. Don’t forget that the body will adapt to stress: after one month of running a mile, your body will become more efficient by using less energy. Combine weights and cardio for optimum results.

8. Have fun.Exercise does not have to be a chore. Find an activity you enjoy, such as dancing, biking, or hiking. If you are having fun while exercising, you are more likely to keep it up and include it in your daily or weekly routine.

9. Hire a qualified fitness professional.If you are financially able to hire a coach or trainer, even for just one session, their help can give you the edge you may need to stay on course. He or she will be able to show you proper technique, suggest better dietary choices, and most importantly help give you the tools to accomplish your goals.

10. Give yourself a break.Everybody has setbacks. Try not to get discouraged by a bad day, week, or month. Find where you went wrong and make the necessary adjustments to get back on track. Tomorrow is a new day; make it the best day you can.

Learn more about Gary Heshiki at GaryHeshiki.com.

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