Fall is in the air. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah are behind us and a long and cold winter is at our doorstep. And now comes the challenge of living up to our New Year's resolutions.
We know what usually happens to them -- and taking care of our health is usually no different. Gym memberships soar at the beginning of the New Year, a couple of months later the drop out rate at gyms is astonishing. People who have purchased half-year and full-year memberships are no longer attending. The initial excitement slowly evaporates and we sink back into our mundane rut.
How can we make sure this year will be different?
The first step in this process is to concentrate on three main areas -- exercise, proper eating, and stress reduction. Exercise should consist of a balanced program of aerobics 4-5 times per week, resistance training 2-3 times per week and stretching on a daily basis. A good nutritious food plan must include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins and just as importantly, portion control. Manage your stress levels with a combination of practical problem solving together with relaxation techniques. Your exercise routine is another key ingredient in reducing stress.
How can we make the necessary changes and keep our resolutions?
1) Make health a priority -- make time for getting healthy!
2) Get yourself a partner. Sometimes these are called diet buddies or exercise buddies. You need to be accountable to someone other than yourself. Find a friend. A spouse in not a good idea.
3) Work on your environment. Don't bring things into the home that aren't good for you or that you tend to eat a lot of, like salty or sugary snacks.
4) Keep your exercise gear handy. Keep it in a place that you just can slip into your clothes and shoes easily. Sometimes, it is just a matter of getting on the gear and you are ready to go!
5) Set goals for yourself -- not necessarily weight loss. See how long you can walk and how fast. Set weekly and monthly goals to increase your distance and your pace. Set a goal of a smaller dress size or pants size.
6) Reward yourself. What are you going to do for yourself when you reach your goals? Try to avoid food as a reward.
7) Give yourself credit! When you have done something that was difficult for you, when you are able to change a bad behavior, write it down and give yourself a much deserved pat on the back
8) Write it all down! Make an accounting of your health. Whether it is your food intake or your exercise, keep a log of everything. Make a diary and also write down your feelings at the end of the day or after an exercise session.
Now that the holidays are behind us and we have beseeched the Almighty to watch over our health, we need to do our part and make an effort to succeed – by eating right, exercise, reducing stress and keep praying!