PHILIP RAPER: Make this the year to get fit and here’s how to do it

By Philip Raper

“My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and get fit.” Sound familiar?
Most resolutions come in the form of habit changes and often fail because they are based on willpower instead of strategy.
For your New Year’s resolution to work, you must develop a plan of action.
Here are a few ways to set yourself up for success:
– First, contact your physician if you have any health problems. Starting an exercise program is safe for many people, but depending on your age and risk factors, you may want to visit your physician before starting any vigorous activity. Exercise clearly benefits the body’s appearance, but talking with your doctor helps you focus on the internal benefits and how they contribute to longevity and quality of life.
– Start slowly. It takes time to build a habit. Thirty minutes of moderate intensity five days a week is optimal, but if you have been sedentary, a goal should be to simply start moving. Remember, getting into shape is not a quick fix; it’s a lifestyle change commitment. Most external benefits take at least four to six weeks. However, internal changes will be noticed immediately, such as increased energy, less stress and anxiety, higher self esteem and an increased feeling of well-being. Going to the gym four times a week is great, but if you can’t do that, start with two times per week.
– Do something you enjoy. The best plan is one that you will follow. It could be swimming, tennis, riding a bike, walking, running, yoga, zumba and/or boot camp. If you absolutely hate exercise, I recommend stationary machines. You might also try running or walking on a treadmill while watching your favorite TV show.
– Schedule your workout into your daily routine. Don’t get so busy taking care of others that you neglect to take care of yourself. A healthier lifestyle helps ensure you’re around to enjoy friends and family in the future. Once exercise becomes a part of your to-do list, the more likely you are to do it.
– Set goals. Plan small steps you will take to obtain your goal over the next year. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, start with a goal of losing four pounds a month. Writing down the goal and placing it where you will see it every day will help you stick to your resolution.
– Find a partner or try group exercise. Social support is the single biggest predictor of success in making any change. Surround yourself with like-minded, positive and supportive people. Group exercise allows an individual to get a whole workout in one class: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility with professional guidance.
– Hire a personal trainer to motivate, teach and hold you accountable for your goals. Always check the credentials of any personal trainer. Make sure the trainer at least has a certification that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which can be found on their website.
– Reward yourself for the successes you’ve obtained. If your goal is to lose weight, reward yourself with a new outfit that you can enjoy wearing because of your healthier lifestyle. Therapeutic Day Spa sessions are also a good way to reward yourself for reaching goals. Treat yourself to a pedicure or massage.
– It’s never too late to get started. An active 70-year-old is as fit as an inactive 30-year-old.
Following these simple tips will help you get on track to a healthier lifestyle. Allow yourself time to adjust to a different routine, and it will become a part of your daily life. Good luck!

Philip Raper, MSHA, is Member Service/Therapeutic Day Spa Supervisor at North Mississippi Medical Center’s Wellness Center in Tupelo. Raper is a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise and a licensed massage therapist. He coordinates NMMC’s Exercise is Medicine program.

Click video to hear audio