ST. GEORGE — Along with singing “Auld Lang Syne,” setting resolutions is as much a part of starting the new year as a kiss at midnight and the Rose Parade, and more than likely, those resolutions will involve losing weight.
According to consumer research website ConsumerAffairs, three out of four people surveyed in a study put weight loss as one of their main goals in 2020. Of those, 85% listed cardiovascular exercise as a main means of achieving those weight loss goals.
Rob Kramer, chairman of the Live Long, Live Well effort in Washington County, said there’s a really good reason who so many list weight loss as a new year’s resolution: So many Americans have the weight to lose.
“Fifty-four percent of Americans are overweight. Over one-third are obese and experiencing or at-risk for chronic illnesses. Type II diabetes is an epidemic,” said Kramer, who also heads the Institute for Continued Learning at Dixie State University. “So there is good reason for Americans to be concerned about their weight and wanting to do something about it.”
The holiday weeks that included Thanksgiving dinners, advent calendar chocolates, holiday party punch, Christmas ham, Chanukah gelt, candy canes and some variation of the Grinch’s roast beast might also have something to do with weight loss being on the mind by Jan. 1.
It can also be people looking back over the previous 12 months at goals not reached.
As the founder and CEO of Summit Athletic Club, Joe Levine knows a lot about people making goals and trying to assure they keep them. He said it’s easy to set a goal but not as easy to reach them.
“A lot of people decide to set goals for things they’ve been putting off. Making a commitment is a lot easier than keeping one,” Levine said. “A commitment is something you keep even when it’s not convenient.”
The brisk pace of growth for Summit Athletic Club shows the high demand for trying to keep those goals.
For residents of Southern Utah, it helps to also have a natural athletic club surrounding them. Living in a capital of an active lifestyle can have its benefits when it comes to losing weight and getting fit, Kramer said.
“The city of St George offers some of the best hiking and biking trails in the world,” he said, “along with numerous events throughout the year — all encouraging a health lifestyle.”
However, for those who have never run a marathon or climbed a mountain peak, the attempt may defeat the ultimate purpose. Even a stair climber looks much easier when you’re not on one, and pilates seem like a breeze until you’re told to keep your legs straight out for a minute.
With that in mind, Kramer said one recommendation when making weight loss one of your New Year’s resolutions is to take it slow.
“People’s goals should be to take small steps to permanent lifestyle change — meaning eating healthier and make regular exercise a part of their lives,” he said. “Most New Year’s resolutions fail, and people become more disillusioned. The problem is they don’t understand the behavioral science behind habit change. They tend to set unreasonable goals, try too hard and give up.”
Some might think someone like Levine, whose facilities are filled with treadmills, weight machines and cardio equipment, would say that exercise is the entire answer to keeping a weight-loss resolution. However, he agreed that a balanced attack that includes nutrition is the true secret to losing weight. Exercise alone won’t lead to being more fit. You also have to watch what you eat.
That doesn’t mean swearing off all the foods one enjoys and living off sprouts and unseasoned meats. In the same way a person doesn’t put on their first running shoes and can immediately run a marathon, a key to eating healthier is making the transition slowly.
“Nutrition is a big part when settling a goal to lose weight,” Levine said.
If you desire to lose weight long term then you need to change something long term. If you return to your old habits the weight will also return. I suggest finding something that you can enjoy long-term, the weight will come off slower but it will stay off longer and you might enjoy the lifestyle change.
That means fad diets might not be the way to go if it’s not something that can be a long-term solution.
“Fad diets fail because people can’t (and often shouldn’t) stick to them,” Kramer said.
It can also take a village. Making weight loss resolutions in a group, which offers the sense of camaraderie and reassurance, as well as the peer pressure of competition, can also be a secret to creating a long-term solution.
“A good way to help keep a commitment is to involve others, people that might have similar goals,” Levine said. “Commit to each other. The easiest person to let down is yourself. I find it’s much harder to let others down.”
Just make sure a weight-loss resolution is not a chore, he said, but a happy choice.
“Enjoy the journey,” Levine said. “Don’t push so hard that you hate the process or it will never last.”
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