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New Beginnings

Posted by Barbara DuBois | Dec 30, 2021 1:34:43 PM

I love new beginnings because there’s always the sense of fresh starts, rejuvenation and a new, better me. In short, new beginnings mean hope that I will feel, look and be healthier and happier than ever before. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions most people make them concerning health matters. Losing weight and quitting smoking always top the list. Let’s be honest, most people fail in their long-term efforts and slip right back to where they were as they ended the year. In fact, fully 95% of people who lose weight, gain it back again and oftentimes add weight on top of that. This year, however, we have a plan! Instead of talking about the abysmal failure rate of those who lose and regain weight, let’s take a look at what people did right to shed pounds and got healthier in the process. We can not only be that elite 5%, but we’re going to expand our percentages and be a positive influence on others! The goal is to not overwhelm oneself with huge goals but instead set short, doable, daily goals. Rather than making a monster goal that seems so unrealistically unachievable, let’s concentrate on one or two modest changes that can bring long term success. In Alcoholics Anonymous, the motto is always “One day at a time.” We don’t have to commit to a lifetime of changes. We only make the changes today. Each day, we start anew. After all, we only HAVE today.

The idea that we are starting over again is a good one. We need however, something more to effect the changes we want over time than just, “This is it! The beginning of the year!” To lose weight and become more fit needs a different approach. I can say this because I have done it. My husband has also done it. Surprisingly enough, I have lost 20 pounds during Covid (i.e. the time period from March 2020 to right now) most of which accrued as that post-menopausal-hormonal-vacillations’ weight gain. It was not my intention to have this concerted effort to lose weight. It simply was a decidedly intentional focus on the basics: increased activity levels, regardless of what they might be, and healthier eating. It is and it isn’t a science to lose weight. More calories have to be expended than consumed. The real issue is how to expend those calories, sustain the motivation to do so by finding something one genuinely enjoys doing, and eating not less food, but higher quality food (and typically food that is water-based, read: fruits and vegetables.)

When I need to shed a few pounds, I do the obvious: accelerate the kind of fat-burning exercises I do such as those activities that call for more aerobic activities such as walking, skiing, hiking, and biking. I try to incorporate different exercises that I normally don’t do. But I also recognize that I can’t always do this on my own, so I confer with others who have done what I want to achieve (shed some weight and increase my fitness levels) and adapt their ideas to my needs, abilities, age and also even handicaps.

Concluding this year, I conferred with the new Mrs. Alaska USOA of 2022, Serena Lee, and she gave me numerous tips. I started to incorporate her ideas, because after all, she won a competitive contest and did so with an incredible fitness program. I have altered her program to my fitness abilities since my knees can no longer do such things as box jumps (literally, jumping on a box and jumping off) or pushups (not a good idea with a bad shoulder.) Thus, my new fitness routine includes as of late doing a rapid-fire series of exercises that I haven’t done in years: 100 fast jumping jacks, 80 sit ups (again, as fast as I can,) 60 ball slams (throw a weighted ball down, bend over and hold it high and repeat,) 20 windshield wipers (hold your legs together and swing them side-to-side, wiping the air much as your windshield wipers clear your windshield.) This routine ends with 30 minutes of fast stationary bike riding. The whole time of the routine? Approximately 60 minutes. This one hour of various activities increases the burn rate of my set point so that my metabolism will be revved up at a consistently higher level. You could also consider hiring one of the numerous Alaska Club personal trainers who are excellent at guiding you through a routine that you will find doable, progressively challenging and fulfilling. Either way, seeking help from others is a good thing to get you going into a routine that you did not have before. There are classes to help a person get going as well so be sure to check the online schedule of the various Alaska Club locations offerings.

What other exercises then will achieve our goal of burning calories at a higher rate? According to Mercey Livingston of MSN News, the exercises that increase your heart rate the most, will affect a better calorie burn and facilitate a more rapid weight loss. Running and jogging lead the way with an average of a whopping 206 calories’ burn for 30 minutes. Since most people who are runners do at least one hour of running, that’s a 412 calories expenditure! My gym-rat husband John doubles that amount of calorie burn on the stationary bikes at the Alaska Club East. John lost 30 pounds in eight months and has sustained that weight loss now for over a year.

So, if it’s a fast burn you want, running, biking and intensive cross-country skiing should do the trick. Mercey also notes in her article, “What Exercise Burns the Most Calories?” that biking, or cycling is second for a maximum burn at 117 calories per 30 minutes, unless, of course, you are my husband who bikes like a possessed demon from hell and does 800 calories an hour. Jumping rope, walking, and weightlifting are last on Mercey’s list with progressively fewer calories expended per type of exercise. Like anything, however, it depends on the effort expended rather than the exercise type itself. Listen to some music that will get you going and you should have no trouble kicking it in to high gear.

This year, we can modify our exercises to increase the burn rate, lose the weight we need and desire, and seek the motivation and support from those who have achieved what we want. We have these supports at the Alaska Club. Just being around like-minded people who want good health is a great motivator. The whole ambiance is conducive to getting one started. Let’s have 2022 be the year that we achieved our fitness goals and keep them in the long run. We will all be happier and healthier because of it!

Topics: healthy living

Written by Barbara DuBois

MA Health Ed. & Int'l Journalism; PhD Sports & Health History; Texas Tech Univ. & Wayland Baptist Univ. instructor; Health Ed. Program Manager Maniilaq Assoc.

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