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2012: A great year for getting in shape

PaulaBy Paula Bowers-Sanchez

Happy New Year, everyone!

With every new year comes inspiration to improve our lives in one way or another. I read in one of my fitness mags that losing weight or getting in shape was among the top five resolutions made every year. It’s that time of year when the gyms are flooded with new members, classes are full and there’s a 20-minute wait for machines. Whether your resolution is to lose weight, develop better eating habits or make a commitment to exercise more, I have some tips to help you achieve your goals.

First, let’s talk about weight loss. For me, losing weight has become more difficult as I’ve gotten older. After 40, a woman’s metabolism slows dramatically. Therefore, I have to work very hard and at a much higher intensity than I did in my 20s and 30s to get similar results. In order for my body to change, it is imperative that my heart rate go into what I consider my “uncomfortable” zone, which is usually between 150 and 165 beats per minute.

So, if your resolution is weight loss, be sure you go into it with knowledge of what works and doesn’t for you. Your age will have a lot to do with it, as well as your fitness level. Try out new fitness classes or a walking program (just make sure you’re not strolling like you’re in the mall). Make all your workouts count! There are fitness facilities on each reservation with qualified individuals to help you with all your fitness goals.

Secondly, some of you may have resolved to clean up your eating habits. This is sometimes the hardest habit to break because we are all accustomed to eating a certain way. I don’t like to diet because that always sounds to me like I’m going to have to deprive myself of food, so, I simply “modify” my caloric intake (i.e. cut back on portion sizes).

One thing that always helps me is keeping a weight-loss journal, listing meal times, food choices and workouts. A friend of mine introduced me to a nifty little app called “Lose It!” and I have to say it’s been very helpful. There’s a version of this app for just about every device. Check it out! It really is quite amazing because it’s your electronic weight-loss journal! Now, get going!

Now, my favorite part of weight loss: exercise! My philosophy is simple: Take care of your body because it’s the only one you’re ever gonna get! It’s just like brushing your teeth every day! I do some kind of workout at least five days a week. Make a commitment to get your body moving for at least 30 minutes, at least three or four days a week. It may be hard at first, but as the weeks progress it will get better! Some days you may feel like you can’t go on, but just tell yourself, “I can do this!” and before you know it, you’ve done 10 more minutes!

Be sure to break a sweat because you should get your heart rate into a “fat-burning” zone if you want to make physical changes. There are charts that show your optimal heart rate according to age, but I go by perceived exertion. If I’m on the spin bike and I can carry on a conversation, then I am NOT working hard enough!

So, remember…Working out is not a chore, it’s your way of taking control of how your body looks and performs! Good luck with all your fitness goals! And may you have a healthy, prosperous new year!

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