Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Avoid the BOMTICC Syndrome

You can tell it’s the New Year. Just drive by any fitness club or fitness center and the parking lots are packed. The big box gyms are full of well-meaning resolutions of starting the year with a better, healthier, and fitter you.

Drive by the same gyms in 2 months and you’ll see tumbleweeds blowing through the parking lots. The scientific name for the soon-to-be epidemic of bare parking lots is BOMTICC Syndrome (Bite-Off-More-Than-I-Can-Chew- New-Year’s-Resolution Syndrome.) What’s the cause of this peculiar, yet predictable phenomenon? Individuals with unrealistic expectations.

Opting for a healthier you isn’t rocket science but nor should it be an impulse buy standing in line at the super market. The following 10 simple tips will help you avoid becoming the next victim of BOMTICC.
  1.  Be a savvy shopper. Be wary of the memorizing infomercials promising a rock-hard beach body in 6 weeks. Some of the latest Make-You-Fit-Quick products do provide results, but before shelling out a ton of dough, ask yourself if it’s right for you. The product may do as promised and make you leaner and stronger, but are you the type to stick to using an at-home product. Do you have enough drive and internal motivation to pick-it up and use it every day? If not, put the phone down and back away from the TV. Maybe you need to find a gym, fitness center or personal training studio.
  2. Shop around for gyms. Not all gyms are made alike. Some are full of bells and whistles. There’s one huge chain of fitness centers in my area that has a name that puts me off from the get-go. The name itself makes me anxious. Makes me think I have to hurry and get done quickly. It’s also full of bells and whistles that are a little overwhelming. One friend described it to me as a “Chucky-Cheese for Adults.” I chuckled when I heard that, but he was right (for me anyway).  The point is that some gyms provide tons of bells and whistle and that may be just what you need. Other gyms may not have all the fanfare, but may provide more personal service. So, visit more than one gym before purchasing a membership, you may discover that the big box gym isn’t for you at all.
  3. Go small. If you feel lost in a big gym, check out some of the small personal training studios in your area that provide one-on-one or small group training. You may pay a little more because of the one-on-one instruction, but you might be surprised that in some cases, you’re paying no more than what you would for a gym membership and personal training at a big box gym.
  4. Get Educated. If you join a gym, take them up on the free personal training that often comes with a new membership. It may only be a couple of sessions, but take that opportunity to have a personal trainer show you how to use the equipment properly and with proper technique.Also, it's worth paying for a few personal training sessions (if not more) in order to be assured that you're getting well balanced workouts and weekly fitness plans.
  5. Set realistic goals for yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you didn’t get out of shape in a day either. It will take some time to begin seeing some results. Be patient. Make a long term goal as well as several interim short term goals. For example, maybe your long term goal is to lose 40 lbs and run a 10K by this time next year.  Now back up and set short term goals to help you get there. Check with your local running clubs and running stores to see if there are any beginningrunning groups starting in January in your area.  Then set up an appointment with a nutritionist or join a weight-loss support group (free or ones like Weight Watchers). Maybe you want to tackle the beginning running first and then meet with the nutritionist. It’s your decision, but set your plan up in incremental steps. Baby steps.
  6. Brace yourself. Realize that the saying “No pain. No gain.” is pretty much true. That doesn’t mean you should suffer an injury, but if you’ve been a sedentary person, you’re going to feel some discomfort when beginning a new fitness program. The good news is that you will acclimate and that discomfort will subside. Most people suffering from BOMTICC Syndrome never stick with it long enough to experience the pleasure that comes from a good workout. When anyone (athlete or couch potato) increases the intensity of their activity, they’ll feel it. This is called the gain threshold. When you begin a new fitness program, you start it with your current level of fitness. When you add the new stresses on your body, you’ll feel sore and your fitness level will actually dip a little, but if you hang in there and keep up the workouts, in about 4-6 weeks you’ll pull out of that threshold and be stronger than you were when you started the new exercise.
  7. Get your head in the game. Exercise is often as much mental as it is physical. If your head isn’t in the game, you’re not going to be successful. Yes, you’ll have down days. You’ll have days that you “fall off the wagon.” But, if you go into the new life of fitness with a true commitment and positive mental attitude, you’ll be able to pull yourself out of the lows and get back on track.
  8. Tell your family and friends. Saying out loud that you’re going to start a fitness program makes it “more real” to you. Verbalizing it to friends and family makes you more committed to your goal. It ups the accountability level.
  9. Find a workout buddy. Put the word out with your family, friends and colleagues that you’re starting a fitness routine and you’d like some company. It may that little nudge your cubical neighbor at work has been waiting for. Scope out your city for weekly fitness groups or running groups. Groups can help hold you accountable. Plus, you’ll meet new people going through the same struggles. (Be careful to find groups suitable to your fitness level. Hard corps boot camps may not be appropriate for one of your first short term goals.) No such groups in your area? Check with your HR department at work and see if they can provide some fitness classes. Remind them that healthier employees means less sick days taken.
  10. Celebrate the small steps. When you reach those interim goals treat yourself. Not with food, but buy yourself that new pair of jeans or shoes you wanted, treat yourself to a movie (smuggle in your own air-popped popcorn), or take that weekend getaway. Pat yourself on the back and acknowledge your hard work when you reach your goals (big and small).
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