Sustaining your fitness goals for the New Year

CarolinaFireJournal - Matt Lyden, MS, ATC, PES
Matt Lyden, MS, ATC, PES Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System
01/11/2011 -

Another New Year has arrived, the holiday season is behind us and once again it is time to REALLY get fit. So you sit down and write out your goals to lose weight and get in shape. Things are really going well for the first month. February we are into the routine but may cheat an extra day on the diet and miss a workout or two. Then March arrives and for some reason (time, money, kids, vacations, the dog ate my goals among some of the more popular) we find an excuse(s) and fall back into the “after the holidays I am going to get serious about my health and wellness.”


If this sounds familiar, don’t be alarmed or surprised, and certainly do not feel alone. The average time it takes us to fall off the fad diet, exercising band wagon is eight to10 weeks. How the heck do we break out of the same old same old and stay on track? When addressing this question, the first thing we need to remember is we are not talking about a short term change, these are CHANGE of LIFE behavior modifications. And benefit number one to making these changes is adding years to your life, not just years in terms of aging, but years in terms of the quality you will experience as a healthy fit person.

To begin this journey there are some critical elements to get you on your way to a healthier happier physical you.

  1. Include a plan that has a balance of exercise and nutritional components.
  2. Write down goals for each of the components of your plan.
  3. Seek out help and utilize available resources to assist with the execution of your program.

Now let’s break each of these elements down just a little further.

The exercise and nutritional plan; it is very hard to excel in one without the other. Both exercise and a well balanced diet are imperative and these are the behaviors that we ultimately are adjusting FOR LIFE. Your exercise program should target the following areas:

  • Stability
  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Agility or functional training
  • Cardiovascular exercises

In the past the only components involved were merely strength and cardio, however there are added benefits to including a stability/flexibility component. These include balance and active range of motion exercises as well as the functional component which allows us to include specific exercises that help us train for the demands of our daily work demands.

Next, writing goals to match up with the components of your diet and exercise regiment is paramount. Your goals should be very measurable and specific to each of the components of your exercise and dietary plans. These also need to be hard enough to challenge you, but obtainable. Looking like Arnold Schwartzneger would certainly be challenging, but for the average Joe, not so obtainable. Your goals should also be reviewed often and expect them to change as you go. There are several times you will hit a goal sooner than expected, this does not mean your program ends, this means it’s time to re-evaluate and set a tougher goal. On the other hand you may have a goal that after a couple months does not seem to be getting any closer and that probably needs to be eased up a bit. Goals are your friend and get used to looking over these very frequently like you would a successful budget.

Last and most important to a successful and sustainable behavior change is to GET SOME HELP. None of us can do this alone. There are an abundance of resources in the health and nutrition arenas available to us all. We all have friends and relatives to bounce ideas off of and to encourage and support us. I promise if you set out a plan and decide to do this alone, at some point you will become stale, unmotivated and your chance for continued success will be extremely low. When looking for professional help, be sure to ask about credentialing and any previous experience this person may have had, especially if they are planning to charge for the service.

In closing remember, a balanced plan, goals, and skilled resources are three key elements to developing and starting a plan to become and stay fit. And who knows, it could be you that people are seeking for advise, encouragement, and support to get their own program going. So the time is now, get your plan written out and start your new journey to a new you.

Matt Lyden is sports medicine manager at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and be reached at 864-560-5104. Visit for more information.
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