Getting in shape in 2023

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2022

It’s that time of year again, the time to celebrate a new year. Folks have practiced this for thousands of years. For the western world, it started back in Roman times. 

The word January comes from the Latin “Ianus” meaning door, and is named after Janus, the Roman god of the doorway. Janus had two faces; one looking forward, and one looking back. Julius Caesar was actually the first to set January 1 as the first day of the new year. 

In 1778, poet Robert Burns was so touched by lyrics for the song Auld Lang Syne, allegedly received from “an old man,” that he sent the song to the Scottish Musical Museum. Translated as “Times Gone By,” the message of the song is that despite the pain, we must remember those we’ve loved and lost. 

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Have you ever watched the Rose Parade, officially called the Tournament of Roses, on New Year’s Day? An estimated 18 million flowers are used to make the parade floats for this American tradition. Another tradition, noise-making and fireworks, are a New Year’s tradition believed to have originated way back in ancient times.       

One modern tradition observed today is the New Year’s resolution. Every January, millions vow to finally lose weight and get in shape. What an excellent idea! However, by January’s end, many have lost motivation and quit all together. Today, I’m going to share with you ways to help you follow through and finally get in shape this year. As the old adage goes – people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. 

The first thing to remember is that you can succeed. I’ve had clients lose 50, 65, 72, and even 108 pounds of body fat. The thing is, though, I helped them come up with proper fitness and diet strategies. When clients first come to me, I require they keep a food journal. Even before they start recording their eating habits, I explain to them that on the front page of their journal I’d like them to write an entire page of what it will “cost” them personally in the near and distant future in terms of health, money, relationships, self-esteem and anything else they can think of if they do not make the health and fitness changes to their bodies. I tell them this is the only time I want them to feel bad, but I really want them to experience those negative emotions. This is crucial. 

Next, I want them to get out of that bad emotional state completely, then write an entire page of what they will “gain” in those same areas of their life if they make those health and fitness changes. This method is often called “the carrot and the stick.” Remember, everything we do in life is done for only one of two reasons – to either gain pleasure or avoid pain. Most folks will do much more to avoid pain than they’ll do to gain pleasure. 

When someone smokes, for example, they choose to focus on the pleasure they get from that cigarette. If they focused on the pain that might come later, they would probably never smoke. If you associate enough pain with not following through, and enough pleasure in keeping your fitness and nutrition commitment, you’ll actually get enough leverage on yourself, follow through, and succeed. So by writing these two pages in the journal, individuals get clear in their minds “why” they need to finally make those changes and get in shape. Remember the “why” is even more important than the “how.” If we all see a big enough reason to do something, we can figure out the “how,” and then follow through. 

Always check with your doctor to see if you are ready for an exercise program. You might have conditions you’re not even aware of or limitations you might not think as affected by diet and exercise like high blood pressure, heart disease, type 1 or  2 diabetes, or kidney disease. Once you’re medically cleared, start slowly. Sometimes folks are a bit too enthusiastic at the beginning and get hurt. This can really douse your enthusiasm. Next, and most importantly, get help from a qualified, experienced professional trainer. So often I’ve observed exercisers at gyms start a fitness program, then try to figure out proper exercise techniques on their own, or even worse, try to imitate a friend or colleague who doesn’t know how to exercise properly either. 

Once you get proper instruction, become accountable. When I train those trying to lose body fat, I require they make what I call the “wardrobe commitment.” Every time they drop two sizes, they must give those clothes away. This serves two purposes; one the needy get clothing, and two, my client has no way to turn back. Some, trying to lose weight might say, “I’ll hang on to my larger-sized clothes, just in case I gain the weight back.” Nope! You have to make the commitment. 

You can win the weight loss and fitness game; you just have to know the rules, and never give up.   

To thank the readers of the Bulletin, at the first of the year, I offer free fitness and nutrition consultations. They are indeed free, but you must sign up via my email.  

David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer.  Questions? Email David at dwcrocker77@gmail.com, or text to 864-494-6215.