Richards: Celebrate the holidays and start moving regularly (column) |

Richards: Celebrate the holidays and start moving regularly (column)

Ryan Richards
Make It Count

Merry Christmas to all. Visitors and locals alike, I sincerely wish you the most joyous day and holiday season. Before I discuss the damage to your waistline that’s occurred during these last few weeks (or years) and what to do about it, take a moment to enjoy this time of year that brings families together, ignites hope and highlights the greatest message of love and sacrifice; the true celebration of Christmas.

Also, it’s the busiest week of the year in the Vail Valley. Please tip generously, be nice to the bus driver and deliver acts of patience to the store clerk. These people work tirelessly for you to enjoy your vacation.

Now what are you going to be doing on New Year’s Day?

Every new year, masses of people attempt to resolve fitness deficits that elude them. Historically, the ancient Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year — during a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions.

Low Success Rate

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Research has shown that 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, yet only 8 percent of us succeed at reaching our goal. Weight loss is the No. 1 resolution people make, and we are failing miserably. Whatever we’re doing, isn’t working.

Maintaining the fitness gusto every new year has many implications. Failure is viable because the habits created by overweight people aren’t easily changed. To slim down, one must make radical changes that promotes weight loss. Slim people have regulations and guidelines in place that keep them lean; their hefty counterparts maintain emotional, psychological and physiological mechanisms that promote obesity and disease. If you want to mirror the success of the lean, do the following.

All fit people understand that regular exercise and activity isn’t negotiable. Living an active lifestyle is a major component of who they are. It doesn’t matter if they’re sick, tired, overworked or stressed. Exercise is a habit that must be maintained throughout a lifetime to stay lean.

Consistency Trumps Intensity

Consistency trumps intensity. Regular movement and activity such as walking, hiking or merely performing chores each day is all that you need. Aim for walking 10,000 steps per day, for example.

Lifting weights can be considered putting money in the lean bank. Just do it, twice per week. Don’t get fancy, just make sure you’re moving every day, and add weight to the bar every week. The opposite of reasonable activity holds true as well. If you’re a hard charging gymgoer, don’t sabotage your efforts by sitting behind a desk all day. It’s great that you exercise hard, five days per week in the gym — or that you go for vigorous daily run — but it’s important to regularly walk around the office, or perform other minor activities that keep the fire stoked.

Get Comfortable being hungry

Diet — the genetically gifted aside, all lean humans didn’t arrive lean on accident. My lifelong motto for people battling their weight is simply “eat less today.” How many times have you suffered hunger pangs and ignored them? Not often enough. Most of us are uncomfortable being hungry. Show me a successful dieter who has lost significant weight, and I’ll show you a man who has gone to bed hungry most nights. Get comfortable being hungry — it’s part of the deal. Look at this as an opportunity to burn fat. Eating every time you’re hungry doesn’t create opportunities for fat burning; if you eat, your body metabolizes food for energy, not your spare tire. It’s really that simple. Perform a weekly 24 to 48 hour fast, eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol, drink more water and do whatever else it takes to drive your weekly caloric average down.

In summary, celebrate the holidays and enjoy your loved ones. Be nice. And for goodness gracious, we have abundant snow. Enjoy these world-class mountains. Instead of annihilating the gym on Jan. 1, just start moving regularly, lift something heavy on occasion and just eat less food on average. Pretty simple. Not easy though. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful new year.

Ryan Richards is a fitness professional who has been keeping the Vail Valley strong for over a decade. You can find him at or 970-401-0720.

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