Oh, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is gone and (hopefully) so are the multitude of sweet temptations – the shortbreads, Rice Krispy squares, chocolates. Maybe you’re like me, have been suffering with laryngitis, or perhaps a nagging cold, the flu. You haven’t been able to workout (much) or get out for a walk in these ongoing frigid temperatures, but you’ve still managed to shove the few remaining goodies into your gob. You pass by the scales, step gingerly on and BAM! New Year’s resolution #1: lose weight stat!
It’s a knee-jerk reaction, but ill-advised. Says exercise scientist Leigh Vanderloo of ParticipACTION, “If you try to tie your confidence or how much you view your self-worth or your self-esteem to solely the number on a scale, I think you’re truly doing yourself a disservice.”
If the majority of your people-watching is done through the media – TV, big screen, tabloids, social – then it’s possible you think you need to be as thin as giraffe’s elegant neck. But have you ever just sat in your town and people-watched? It’s so beautiful and enlightening. I find it amazing that any one of us can walk into a store and pick an article of clothing off of a rack that fits! We’re young, middle-aged, old, bone-thin, voluptuous, tall, short. We’re shaped like sticks or hour-glasses or pears or apples. We walk on slender feet, wide feet, or feet (like mine) that resemble skis!
Perhaps it’s time to finally accept that weight loss is more complex than the old “eat less, move more”, and that genetics play a pretty big factor in what the scales tell you. Says Lauren Fowler in Why you have to Let Go of the Weight Loss Goal, “Ultimately, you can’t control your weight, but you can work towards taking care of your body through general healthy habits.”
“General healthy habits”. Now there’s a goal, albeit a general one. How, especially if you’re like me and food is truly a comfort and a joy, can you achieve this?
Here’s a suggestion: specificity leads to credibility. Okay, I learned that in a writing course, but we can also apply it to our health and fitness goals because what happens when you don’t really know where you’re going? As Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes sings in From A Window Seat, “Any road will take you there.”
Let’s take the SMART road. On refinery29.com Amy Roberts defines the SMART acronym this way: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. And CBC News’s Second Opinion suggests you back it up a step further, for motivation, and ask this question: why? Why do you want to lose weight – a questionable result – so, then, why do you want to make positive changes to your diet, your physical health anyway? I recommend another important question, which perhaps supersedes “why”, from Danielle La Porte’s The Desire Map: “how”? “How do you want to feel”? This is what matters most, yes?
Personally, I want to feel vital and healthy and supple and spry. I feel sluggish and uncomfortable when I don’t eat properly, when I carry a few extra pounds as reaffirmed by the ginger scale-stepping above. I’ve been sick though. What do you do when a full-scale workout is out of the question? Well, I mentally – and a tiny bit physically – worked on some new Jazzercise routines for when I’m healthy enough to instruct again. My mood immediately improved as I (gently) boogied around the kitchen singing “Oh strip that down”, validating why I Jazzercise.
So, if you’ve been sick, for a pick-me-up slide in that Christmas CD and enjoy your favourite Jazzercise songs of 2017. If you’ve been too busy to come to class regularly over the holidays, then just stop what you’re doing right now, pull out your calendar and schedule three classes for this week, then as the week nears the end, schedule the next three. Jazzercise, as you know, is not like a regular gym where, according to creditdonkey.com, gym owners expect only about 18% membership usage. We expect 100%. And with the cardio health, strength, balance and flexibility you get from regular Jazzercise classes, don’t forget about all the other physical activities you can enjoy, which might be hiding in the following places:
- Under Your Feet - 10,000 steps is a good daily goal and consequently Fitbit is a billion dollar company, but you don’t need a Fitbit to count steps. Download Apple Health or Google Fit on your smartphone and set a personal daily goal. Park further from the store door, and/or decide to get up at the office and talk to co-workers instead of emailing them. Walking more is probably the easiest, cheapest and most immediate way to move that body more, but if the blasted snow doesn’t stop blasting, then I guess you might want to walk at the mall, when the stores are closed, because it’s cheaper that way.
- Under Your Fast-moving Feet – Run much? If you don’t have injuries that prevent you from jogging, why not set a goal of running a mile or a couple of kilometers? Again, a pretty cheap and accessible activity. Strap on those shoes and go. (But again, the cold, the snow. Wait till spring?)
- In an Activity You’ve Never Tried – Pickle ball anyone? Swimming? Skating? Martial arts? You’re never too old!
- In a Plank or a Pushup or a Head/Handstand – A plank a day keeps the doctor away. And again – you’re never too old. As a child, I watched Truth or Consequences on my head until I could pull away from the wall and balance on my own. Pick a skill and work on it until you’ve mastered it. It’s fun!
- In a Fitness Challenge – You could set a goal of moving every day for a certain amount of time for a month. I’m lucky in that I have active people in my life who’ve challenged me over the years. For instance, I participated in a mini Triathlon once and found I enjoyed the training for it more than the actual event. Here’s a Fitness Challenge for you if you like to ride a bike. I’ve created an MS Bike Riding team called Rita 60 – I’m turning that number this year and am greatly buoyed by my mother-in-law telling me how great the 60s are. The challenge? Ride your bike from Grand Bend, Ontario to London, Ontario Saturday, July 28, then reverse the trip on Sunday, July 29. It’s 150 kilometers. A doable goal for a great cause. Here’s the link: http://mssoc.convio.net/site/TR?fr_id=5983&pg=entry Pick “Register now”, then “Join a team” and the team is Rita 60.
Keep grooving and moving to our awesome repertoire of Jazzercise songs throughout 2018, which in turn let’s you fully participate in life. If you lose a bit of weight in the process, great, but I guarantee that when you commit to as healthy of a diet as possible and move that body you will feel pretty darn good.