by Mark Ford, CPT

Senior man lifting weights

Research has shown that a lot of people who experience weight gain throughout their lives can attribute this to the holiday festivities and the excesses that accompany them. With a little discipline and the correct amount of activity you can finish the winter season in at least as good of shape as you entered and even enjoy doing it.

“I’ll just go on a serious diet in January,” you may be thinking. “I can knock off this extra 40 pounds in eight weeks just like the ads on TV promise.” Bad idea! Yo-yo dieting, as it’s called, is one of the worst things you can do. Your metabolism slows due to the decrease in caloric intake and when you do resume a normal diet, which you will have to do at some point, you not only gain back the original weight, but probably a few extra pounds as well. Also, it is very hard on your pancreas as it makes it difficult for it to secrete the correct amount of insulin, which can eventually lead to adult onset or type 2 diabetes.

A much preferred method is a balanced diet combined with an exercise regimen that actually burns a few more calories per day than you consume. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) states that weight loss should be confined to 2-3 pounds per week until the desired weight goal has been reached. This allows your body to adjust gradually as you transition into a healthier you.

Let’s look at how we can actually accomplish our goals. You may have noticed that I have used the word “goal” several times so far. Start with a defined goal. You may even want to consult your physician as to what would be a desired weight for your particular age and body type. Everybody is different; what may be fine for one person is not necessarily appropriate for another. That’s why I don’t like some of the height and weight charts available. There is a lot more to take into consideration than just inches when setting your goals.

Once you have a desired weight in mind, it is easy to determine a time frame. Again, 2-3 pounds per week for X number of weeks.

Now, how do we get there? It’s called a program, a specific “road map” that will get you to your destination. There’s one catch: You have to continue to follow this map even when you may not feel like it. One way to stay involved is to find an activity you enjoy and may even look forward to doing each day.

We are blessed in this area with a fairly mild winter climate, which allows us to get outside on most days. Parks and nature preserves provide ample areas for a brisk walk. Most of our neighborhood streets are fine for walking and getting in a good leg stretch as well. This is a great way to burn off those extra calories or warm up before a more concentrated workout.

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I would like to propose that we adopt “All Year Resolutions” instead. The best thing about an “All Year Resolution” is that is runs all year long. Healthy habits are quite easy to adhere to once established into our daily routine.

So now that you have enjoyed the holidays, keep in mind that your physical well-being is a gift you can give yourself. Who knows, you may even have a little fun along the way.


Ford, an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer, can be reached at 910-975-2572 or