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New Year New You: How To Stick With Your Weight Loss Resolution

Yes, it's that time of year again! The holidays are over -- the resolutions begin, and we start the year anew. It's a new year and time for a new you. To tell us about changes you can make to your life, WWJ Newsradio 950 asked the experts at Planet Fitness.

This story is part of our New Year New You Health Weekend including audio from our special guest interviews.

Question: Many people begin a fitness routine in January only to find they quit by the end of the month. What suggestions are there for a person to keep up their routine?

Anyone who's been in a gym during January has seen the chaotic rush of unfamiliar faces packing the gym to its limit. Like clockwork, the vast majority of those newcomers drop out by the time February rolls around. If you don't want to be one of those people, I recommend two things.

First, finding a workout partner who is equally serious as you is a HUGE help. He or she will keep you on track to get to the gym in the first place, offer a relief from the anxiety of being around all kinds of new people, and can bring new insight on things that you may not have learned yourself (or at least as quickly).

Second, a large part of the dissatisfaction that leads to quitting seems to come from not realizing a desired goal as quickly as one would like. That is, the goals set require more time than what someone will typically be willing to put in before getting frustrated to the point of just giving up. Specifically, these goals tend to be the ones based on body changes: lose 20 pounds; tone up my arms; tighten up my butt; and so on. If instead, goals were modestly set based on performance, the improvements become much more apparent. While it could easily take months to restructure the body to the desired physique, seeing your ability to exercise longer or more intensively can be seen session to session, especially so when first starting.

When it comes to cardio, the aim should typically be on taking the same pace that was done before and shoot for doing it more frequently (as in the times per week and/or per day you choose to exercise), longer, or using less rest time in between exercise bouts.

Weight training, however, tends to be even more clear-cut in that the aim should be to increase the weight being used. The progress noted here tends to be very rewarding and hard to deny: if you were using 100 pounds on the leg press last Monday and this Wednesday you're doing an equal amount of repetitions with 140 pounds, you definitely know you've made progress.

Question: Weight loss tends to be top of mind in January. Why is weight training important to weight loss?

This ties into a big part of how weight training can help with weight loss. The most important part of ANY program is simply adherence. No program is useful if you don't stick to it.

While weight loss is primarily controlled by how you eat, people tend to be better about sticking to proper eating when they couple it with exercise. The underlying thought seems to be something along the lines of, "I just put in all of that hard work and sweat at the gym; why would I blow that by eating poorly?" Getting the positive feedback of consistently seeing the weight increasing during weight training exercise can provide the short-term reward needed to stick around to see the long-term results.

Additionally, when food intake is lowered to lose weight, it's an inevitability that some muscle will be lost along with the fat as a product of the body as a whole breaking down. However, when someone refers to weight loss they usually mean specifically fat loss and not muscle or other lean tissue. Regular resistance training is one of the best ways to preserve muscle on a diet, which helps maintain figure and proportionately lose more fat. That is, out of a given five pounds lost, just about everyone seems to agree that they'd rather lose four pounds of fat and one pound of muscle versus two pounds of fat and three pounds of muscle. Keeping up on weight training helps ensure this.

Question: Does weight training cause you to bulk up?

It's important to point out that training with weights, even heavy ones, does NOT mean you will get bulky. There tends to be a lot of female concern surrounding this issue and rightfully so: it's completely understandable as a woman to not want to have shoulders like bowling balls or huge arms. Understand that even males, who are hormonally more predisposed to muscle growth, still have a rough time when trying to significantly increase muscle mass. Women who are intentionally aiming for muscle growth find that a quarter pound to a half pound of muscle per week is the most they can grow, as dictated by physiology. To compound this, if you're eating intentionally to lose weight (in the form of mainly fat), the body will not be in a place to gain weight (in the form of muscle). Don't be afraid to train with weights.

Question: How can a fitness routine fight the winter blues?

During the Winter, many people isolate themselves from others. By finding a workout partner who is equally serious as you, can be a huge help and eliminate loneliness. Also, by developing and continuing a workout program, you will achieve success in meeting your goals whether it is to lose weight or just get fit. All of these above factors come together to make you really feel better about yourself. Along with exercise in general creating chemical responses that positively affect mood, when you set a goal (no matter how small), work toward it, and your work pays off and you achieve it, there's a very deep level satisfaction and self-confidence that results from that.

This story is part of our New Year New You Health Weekend including audio from our special guest interviews.

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