Vail Daily column: Get on track and be fit in 2016 |

Vail Daily column: Get on track and be fit in 2016

Ryan W. Richards
Make It Count

Welcome to 2016. It’s the year you’re going to do it. Resolving to get in better shape is always a top priority for so many individuals in our culture. Why is this? First of all, 66 percent of our country is overweight or obese. Two-thirds of our country is at least considering that their health isn’t ideal. Moreover, people who resolve to prioritize fitness as a New Year’s resolution are often those who haven’t made health a daily practice in their lives. This can lead to a host of problems that promotes desperation for change. Desperation can lead to shortsightedness and failure. Considering this, let’s look at what you really need to focus on so you don’t get sidetracked this time around. Here’s the top priorities that the average person should consider.


As a general disclaimer, first consider breaking the traditional rules of fitness and wellness. You have a clean slate. If something isn’t working or hasn’t worked in the past, you must turn the other direction and think outside of the box. For example, my first priority for you is to stay hungry. I mean this literally and somewhat figuratively. Staying hungry is thinking outside of the traditional box of eating three squares a day plus snacks.

We are so conditioned to eat if we feel hunger. We wake up hungry in the morning and eat. We eat lunch because we are hungry. We snack when we are hungry. The problem is, we haven’t been conditioned to burn body fat because any time we get close to running out of fuel, we eat. When we threaten to use our fat stores because our resources are running low, we don’t have the discipline to disregard the hunger pangs; we inevitably give in to eating, reducing our ability to burn fat.

There is nothing wrong with hunger; skipping meals, or otherwise finding ways to eliminate eating is needed to burn off the excess. Forget what you think is right, and drastically lengthen the time between meals to allow your body to burn fat. Intermittent fasting for 24 to 48 hours, eating two larger meals per day as opposed to three to six smaller meals, and undereating at specific times of the day are good techniques that help with fat burning.


The second priority is to not get fat in the first place. For those who are resolving to exercise more but don’t need to lose weight, or for those who have successfully lost weight, do everything possible to maintain your lean status.

Some experts will disagree with this, but it has been my experience that it is much more difficult to lose weight than to merely maintain it. Weight loss has everything to do with diet, maintenance has everything to do with exercise and practical eating. The best strategy for maintaining weight is to exercise regularly and rarely overeat. If people would slow down and listen to their body, it’s very difficult to overeat. Let that main course land and pull into the terminal before considering a second serving or ordering the decadent dessert.


The next priority is to forget about the right program. Throw away your diet and self-help books. The right program doesn’t exist. Eat the bread for goodness sakes. It’s OK to have pizza and ice cream every now and again. Forget the cleansing and elimination diets. If a practice isn’t sustainable for life, it isn’t worth sustaining for 30 days.

There is nothing wrong with challenges, or the need for radical programs once a year to kick start the process, but we have gotten out of hand with gluten-free, carb-free, veganism, cleanses, and other practices that aren’t sustainable.

As for exercise programs, the key is to practice daily activities that burn calories and create sustainability. As great as it is to lift weights, if you don’t like lifting weights, it’s not likely going to help you. You will always find excuses to skip out. If you prefer running, please consider running a few days per week! Activities you enjoy will get you there because you will likely do them regularly.

I apologize for the banality of this last sentiment, but there’s a reason this is a priority for good health time and again. Acceptance, love, faith, gratitude and general righteousness is paramount. The truth is, gravity will ultimately win. We will succumb and the best fitness program in the world won’t mitigate our ultimate demise. Fitness acquisition is great and all, but what about the important things in life? Are you being a good husband and parent? Are you loving your neighbor? Are you accepting the fact that your knee may never be the same? Do you practice gratitude for this wonderful place we live? We need to be resolved to good mental, emotional and spiritual health. These factors come before the physical.

Consider above all that wellness is a daily renewing of your mind and attitudes. Always remember that you didn’t get unwell overnight, and getting on track isn’t going to happen that way either. Stay the course, and be fit this New Year!

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 or 970-401-0720.

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