Make that change.

“Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”–Michael Jackson

Yes, I have begun my note with a fabulously cheesy quote from a fabulously cheesy Michael Jackson ballad.  No, I am not ashamed.  It’s a great song, not only because Michael is my friend, but because it has a wonderful message.  I’m not talking about the “Make the world a better place” message (although that is a wonderful one); I’m talking about the “Starting with yourself” message.

To create change and to be responsible for change, you must start with…?  You guessed it!  The man (or woman) in the mirror.

It’s been a month since the annual resolution making, and now is the time when people start getting discouraged because they are not seeing the drastic changes they had in mind when making those resolutions.

But resolutions to change are simply that — resolutions to change.  Resolutions are just words; change takes action.   And to make changes in health and fitness, you must take several decisive actions.  OK, you have made your 2012 resolution, so consider it a challenge, a positive first step — Phase I.  Voicing your resolution to others can also be part of that first step.  It often shows a greater commitment to really get it done.  But remember, it is ultimately your responsibility to get it done.  Now, in order to really set things in motion, take that positive first action.  Depending on the health-and-fitness goal you have set for yourself, this first action can be attending a group exercise class, or setting up a session (and attending it) with a personal trainer or dietitian or nutritionist.  Or your first action can be to design a simple workout routine for yourself (10 Jumping Jacks; 10 Sit Ups; 10 Push Ups; 10 Squats), and carve out a sliver of time to do it.  Once again, YOU have to want to do it.  And when you’re ready to take a positive action, you will know it.

There is no sense in joining a gym, or buying 8 sessions with a trainer unless you are ready to follow through with your challenge.  When you are ready, go to your mirror and say “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, oh yeah” and make that change!  (You could actually play the entire song and get yourself really pumped up for change, but that might only work with obsessive MJ fans…)

Once you have taken this positive action towards change, you will need to put your patient pants on.  It has been less than 30 days since the New Year, and change, especially positive, long-lasting change, takes time.  So I offer you the following advice to keep you going through your second phase of change:

1. Stop obsessing.  Obsessing over your weight day in and day out can lead to more problems and can take a toll on your mental health and your personal life.  Obsessing doesn’t change your body, exercise and a balanced diet do.

2.  Throw away your scale (or cut down on scale usage).  I know many people (women especially) who weigh themselves when they wake up and then before they go to bed.  Your weight fluctuates throughout the day, and night, so you are not benefiting anyone with the two-a-day weigh in.  If you are exercising and have begun to incorporate resistance training into your program, it is possible that you are replacing fat with muscle.  A pound of fat weighs just as much as a pound of muscle (remember that old riddle “what weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?”…a pound is a pound is a pound), but, of course, we’re aiming to replace some of the fat pounds with muscle pounds.  If you have a scale that breaks down body composition (fat mass, muscle mass, water weight, etc) you can hold onto that, but read the instructions!

3.  Get off your arse!  I know we should be in the second phase here, but sometimes there is a tendency to lie to oneself about the amount of activity being done on the quest for a fitter body.  Hoping and praying that you’re going to lose weight has not been proven effective by scientific studies so stop using it as a method for a healthier you.  Rather than saying “I’m going to go to the gym tomorrow” or “I’m going to go food shopping tomorrow” do something now.  Get up and do 10 jumping jacks, or go for a walk, or eat a piece of fruit…NOW! Take it from a procrastinator, procrastinating now only leads to procrastination later.

Finally, let me leave you with some more words of infinite wisdom from Michael Jackson to keep you going through your change phase:

 Yes, I believe in me

So you believe in you

Help me sing it, ma ma se,

ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa

ma ma se, ma ma sa

ma ma coo sa

(Repeat/Fade-Out)

Channeling MJ at Fitness Dixie 2009

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