By Tara Kaprowy
Kentucky Health News
As the resolve of New Year’s resolutions fades with January passing into February, fitness experts Sheila Kalas and Laura Coombs, right, offered some useful tips for how to stay motivated about getting healthy on KET‘s “One to One” program with Bill Goodman last week.
The first thing, they said, is to come up with a realistic plan — and trash the one in place if it’s set up for failure. “One of the things that I think is a mistake is if you jump into action in January and say, ‘I’m going to get up, and I’m going to work out at 6 every morning’ and you’re really not a morning person. Chances are, that’s going to fade,” said Kalas, owner and founder of Fitness Plus in Lexington.
The trick is to come up with a plan that works, along with 10 reasons for why it’s imperative to stick to it this year. “That way, you’re more invested,” said Coombs, a certified athletic trainer.
The cornerstones of good health are a nutritious diet and an exercise regime, which, Kalas pointed out, is unavoidable. “It’s OK for you not to like exercise,” she said. “But it really doesn’t get you off the hook from needing to do it.” As such, it’s important to remove the biggest barrier that stands in the way of a fitness regime: a lack of time, which is often only a perceived barrier, and can be removed if there is a commitment to devote proper time to exercise, Kalas said.
Also important is coming up with activities that are entertaining or even practical. Coombs described a “fit deck,” playing cards that each describe a different kind of exercise. The goal is to draw five cards a day and perform the exercise in turn. For those uninterested in formal exercise, Kalas suggested getting a post office box to which a person would have to walk each day to get mail. She added that one of the best tools to use is a pedometer, which allows people to monitor how much they’ve walked that day and alter their workouts and menus accordingly.
Coombs advises being active seven days a week for 30 minutes each day, whether that involves walking, gardening or playing with the dog. “If I only have to do something three days a week, I’ll do it on Monday,” she said. “Then on Tuesday, I’ll be so proud of myself, I’ll put it off.” If the exercise doesn’t get done by later in the week, the tendency is to just put it off to the following week, Coombs said. Consistency of exercise is more important than the kind of exercise being done, she said.
As for eating, both Kalas and Coombs said it’s important to monitor food intake carefully, particularly when it’s coupled with a new exercise regime. “Beginner exercisers reward themselves for a single bout of exercise that day,” Kalas explained. That person will decide, for example, that, since they’ve walked on the treadmill that day, they deserve to have dessert. But then they’ll decide, “I’m going to walk tomorrow so I’m going to eat more tonight,” Kalas said. “A lot of time there’s one bout of exercise and two rewards built in.”
As for what to eat, choose items that come “from the earth that are not prepackaged,” Coombs said. “We have to be sensible and stop looking for shortcuts and stop looking for magic foods and magic numbers,” she said. Kalas also suggested counting calories using phone applications or referring to the book, “Eat This, Not That,” which suggests swapping one food for another at restaurants in order to avoid excessive calorie intake.
To get children motivated, the best thing to do is to remove sedentary activities by setting limits on TV and computers. And it’s important to start introducing the importance of fitness and nutrition while kids are still young. “If the household values healthy eating and exercise, it will trickle down to your children,” Kalas said.
Ultimately, when it comes to being successful at making changes, a person needs to accept responsibility for their choices and that they’re “the only person that can make it better or worse,” Kalas said. “If you’re going to have the French fries, the only person that’s going to have to burn off the calories is you.”
To watch the program online, click here. For the full program archive, go here.
Kentucky Health News is a service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.