We're into the fourth week of 2008. How are those resolutions going? If you're like the millions of other Americans who wanted to lose weight and get into shape for the new year, you likely already have faced temptation.
You might have even drifted away from your workout plan, or eaten something that definitely wasn't on your diet.
It's time for a fitness and diet pep talk.
Pep talk No. 1:
There's good news
Weight-loss guru Joe Donnelly, a Kansas University professor, is our first motivational speaker.
He and his colleagues at the KU Energy Balance Laboratory recently published a paper saying the majority of people who have gone through the lab's weight-loss programs actually did lose weight for the long term. Seventy percent of participants had kept off at least 5 percent of their body weight.
"I think we get beat up a little bit with the concept that all weight management efforts fail, and that just isn't true anymore," Donnelly says. "The truth is the success of weight management is actually greater than what people give it credit for."
That 5 percent figure is significant, he says, because that's the benchmark researchers use to say that weight loss or gain is beyond normal, day-to-day fluctuations. It's also the threshold that can make a difference in a person's life, to reduce the risk of diseases caused by obesity. Those who keep weight off most successfully are involved in ongoing management programs, Donnelly says.
His words of encouragement for anyone who has fallen off their diet or exercise resolutions: "Almost everything you try for the first time fails - throwing a baseball, driving a car. Whatever it is, you have to learn. If people have tried and 'failed' - in their mind failed - they ought to try again. We've had people in programs who are 'successful' on their third attempt.
"There's no reason to think that something as complicated as obesity, with abundant food supply everywhere and habits and biology that says 'Eat, don't sweat, don't breathe hard,' etc. - we're programmed to gain weight - so there's no reason to suspect that losing it will be easy and you'll be successful on your first attempt."
Pep talk No. 2:
Get a plan
Now, let's go to the gym.
Katie Butler, fitness director at Body Boutique, 2330 Yale Road, says fitness success comes down to having a plan.
"People get really excited about their New Year's resolutions," she says, "but when they get in here, a lot of people do too much and get burned out. And some people don't have the commitment or don't know what they're doing. Others just aren't accustomed to the machines, so they stop."
Butler's suggestion: Make it fit into your day, no matter what.
"What I encourage people to do when they're first starting a workout program is to schedule it in their planner," she says. "The first 30 days are most crucial, so if you can establish a habit or routine, you're more likely to stick with it."
Pep talk No. 3:
Mix it up
Rick Sells, who owns Lawrence Athletic Club, 3201 Mesa Way and 1202 E. 23rd St., says new exercisers who get burned out a few weeks into their routine often are just suffering from boredom.
"Vary your work out, so it doesn't get boring," Sells says. "I change my workout routine all the time."
Also, he suggests, shoot for more frequent workouts over longer workouts.
"It's best to come in more often for less amounts of time if you don't like working out," Sells says. "It doesn't take up their day, it gets them in, and it gets them in better health."
Other suggestions: If you belong to a workout facility, meet with a personal trainer or other staff member for suggestions and inspiration. Or, at very least, have a workout buddy to keep you accountable.
And, Sells says, remember you're not going to get in shape after one workout, so don't overdo it.
"If it's been awhile since you've worked out, take baby steps," he says. "You've got to remember not to jump back in and try to start right where you left off. ... You're going to get sore, so you won't want to work out the next day."