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Vail Daily column: Staying on track with your resolutions

Ryan Richards
Make It Count

New Year’s resolution season is upon the hearts and minds of those interested in changing negative behaviors. Last week, I discussed a few basic principles for developing good fitness habits in 2016. My message was straightforward. Break traditional fitness principles, find ways to eat less food, avoid crazy exercise programs and maintain good spiritual and mental health. This past week, I thought about the failure rate consistent with people who resolve to improve fitness during a new year and why this happens. Today, I want to investigate potential barriers getting in the way and what not to do in your quest for wellness acquisition.

First, don’t quit four weeks into a new exercise program because you aren’t seeing results yet. We are so fixated on immediate gratification in our society, it never amazes me that very few people have the attention span to complete a four-week introductory strength training cycle. The latest craze comes into the market or a new diet promising immediate results. Who isn’t tempted to buy into it? After all, Dr. Oz and Oprah Winfrey gave their seal of approval. Yeah, right.

Doing the minimum

Several years ago, Pavel Tsatsouline wrote a book, “Enter the Kettlebell,” that details a very specific regimen, the Program Minimum. The Program Minimum outlines two days per week of kettlebell get-ups and swings — two very complete exercises performed consistently with attention to detail. The Program Minimum is the perfect name for such a minimalist program, not because of the simplicity but because of the minimum commitment required to perform this brilliant concept of what most people need. Pavel never mentions this, but I assume his intention is to provide something so basic for the masses who can’t handle more; he knows that most people can’t commit, and a minimum dose is more realistic for the average fitness consumer. Stick it out, even if it seems too simple, and give the program a reasonable chance to produce results. If you jump from program to program every two to four weeks because of boredom, impatience or a lack of commitment, you’re not going to ever get there. Stay the course, and be good before you’re fancy. Start basic and move to complex once you’ve earned the right to.

Staying on course also demands a level of discipline while being human. For example, a common mistake a novice trainee makes is blowing her diet because of a few setbacks in the kitchen. Too often, an individual will set unrealistic goals for dietary perfection, which rarely exists. After a few weeks of eating carrot sticks and celery, she gives in and eats a slice of pizza.

Here’s the common scenario, “Well I already feel guilty for eating a slice of pizza, I might as well eat the entire pizza and drink a pitcher of beer.” The following day food coma lingers and backsliding to old habits becomes the new baseline. Don’t do this. Aiming for dietary perfection isn’t realistic. Skip the guilt and get back on track if you eat a doughnut for breakfast, and avoid sabotaging your plan because you feel out of control. Recognize you’re human and move on.

Don’t forget the process

Staying on track is part of the joy of training. We often become too goal-oriented while missing the joys of the process. Don’t forget the process. In Rob Reiner’s best work, “Stand by Me,” Vern was arguing with Teddy Duchamp about walking on the tracks 22 miles to Harlow Road. Vern declared his intention for the gang to hitchhike to get to Harlow road by sundown. Teddy Duchamp used some inappropriate verbiage to kindly decline the advice of Vern. The goal of getting to Harlow Road quickly wasn’t as important as the bonding that occurred between the adolescent boys during the long walk.

Don’t forget about the other benefits of exercise unrelated to the immediate goal. Exercise can help relieve daily stress. Exercise boosts your mood that improves your relationship with your spouse. Fitness routines can establish good time management habits and increase mental energy that enhances work day productivity. There are more benefits to exercising than just losing 20 pounds you have set as your resolution goal.

In summary, don’t give up, don’t self-sabotage, and most importantly, enjoy the process. It’s rarely about the end game, but all about the journey. We are two weeks into 2016. Stay on track, and enjoy the donut this morning!

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at http://www.r2hp.com or 970-401-0720.


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