New Year's resolution: Live a healthier lifestyle

January 6, 2017

New year, new—you? According to a 2016 Ipsos poll, "live a healthier lifestyle" is one of Canadians' top new year's resolutions. Read more about making your resolutions work, and find out what our faculty and staff had to say about other top resolutions, including focusing on the positive, spending more time with loved ones and learning something new.

Resolutions_Dave_KatoIt’s a vicious cycle that’s familiar to many: “People feel guilty about going through the Christmas season where you tend to indulge in sweets and turkey,” says Dave Kato, assistant professor in the Bachelor of Physical Education Transfer program. “And then you sit back when things settle down right after Christmas and think ‘I should really start doing something about this. I should get back in shape.’” 

Year after year, living a healthier lifestyle makes the list of top New Year’s resolutions. Its pervasiveness on that list suggests that people are struggling to see their fitness goals through to the end of the year. So how can you kick the cliché and get healthy for good? Dave offers his advice. 

Be patient

People tend to give up within the first three weeks, but the research suggests it takes about six weeks of engaging in a particular behaviour to make that a new lifestyle habit. In our instant gratification society, the human body just doesn’t adapt as quickly as people would like it to. You see things on TV that say, “If you do this, eat that and drink this, you’re instantly going to lose 20 pounds.” That’s just not going to happen. You have to work through it and trust that your body will adapt if you keep moving the way you should be. 

Set achievable goals

Set little goals, make them realistic and keep after them. Do the same thing at the same time. Develop a routine. Work out with a buddy so that you’re accountable. Don’t fixate on being able to run five kilometres within a month,maybe start with walking half an hour per day. In fact actually measured this: if you walk through MacEwan from the end of the Robbins building to Building 5 and back, you’ve walked 1.3 kilometres. If you do that a couple of times, that’s a little over a mile. It’s a good place to start. Another good thing is that you can stay warm in the winter. 

Don’t get hung up on cosmetic results

You have all these images and ads telling you that you need to look a certain way or that being healthy means looking a certain way. Some people get discouraged when they see others looking good in their lululemon gear and think, “Unless I look like that, I can’t exercise.” Nothing can be further from the truth.

You don’t always see a physical manifestation. Many people take the bathroom scale as the be-all, end-all measurement, but the reality is that if you increase in muscle mass because of your activity, you may increase your weight. Do you feel better? Do you sleep better? Do your clothes fit looser?Has your blood pressure decreased? Those are signs that your health has improved.

Seek advice from trustworthy sources

At MacEwan you can talk to the consultants at the Christenson Family Centre for Sport and Wellness. They are certified professionals who can provide appropriate answers your questions . Be careful when searching for advice online—“Dr. Google” may be friendly, but it can also be your worst enemy. Look for reputable sites like the Canadian Society for Exercise and Physiology, the National Strength and Conditioning Association or the National Athletic Trainers Association.

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