Think small to lose big

So here we are at the beginning of another fresh, new year, and you have fresh, new resolutions to finally — finally — lose that extra weight and get fit. Which, if history is any indication, ought to last until about March if you push it, February if you don’t.

Why do so many of us do this to ourselves year after year? Why do we start out with such good intentions? And why do so many of us fail? Jason Lutz, a personal trainer and owner of Ariginal Fitness, has a theory. Since the average American gains 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and the new year is a natural time to reassess our lives, "the combination of the two gets people going," he says.

Then what is it that gets people to stop? Lutz says he believes most people take on big-picture goals — losing 20 pounds, say– without setting short-term intermediate goals, and then become frustrated because they don’t meet the larger goal right away. He suggests thinking smaller — such as cutting down from three soft drinks a day to one — and, once one goal is met, moving on to another.

As far as fitness, he recommends going to the gym three times a week and choosing one form of exercise to do on those days.

"Make it part of the routine, part of the lifestyle," Lutz says. "Get a habit going."

And don’t expect to see results right away, but know that they’ll be coming later.

Think of ways to reward yourself, he says. If you want to lose 6 pounds in the first month, reward yourself with a new article of clothing or similar treat when that goal is met.

To avoid boredom in a fitness routine, he suggests changing the routine every three to four weeks, which also keeps the body responding in an optimal manner.

Having a trainer also can help keep you going.

"When somebody hires a fitness coach or trainer and they put some money on the line, that helps give them some motivation to stick with it," Lutz says. "And by the end of January, when they’re starting to wane, I give them a little kick in the pants — help them develop a bigger picture of why they’re doing it."

Because having that picture may be the best motivator of all. If you need to lose 10 or 20 pounds this year and don’t, Lutz says, that may mean you’ll need to lose 30 or 40 pounds next year. You also may be in danger of developing diabetes or other health problems and not seeing your children or grandchildren grow up, he adds.

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