This is part five of Looking for Resolutions in all the Right Places, in which we look at the top 10 most commonly chosen New Year’s resolutions and see if they are all that and a bag of potato chips.
Let’s face it – you want to get fit because fit people look sexy. It’s ok to admit it – humans are socially oriented animals with an obsession for all things that have sexy results.
Getting fit has the advantage of being one of the few things you have complete control over when it comes to the attractiveness department. So maybe you lucked out in terms of good genes for having a pretty face? That’s ok, get a fit body and you’ll be far more attractive! If someone wants to put a paper bag over your head to cover your hideous face during sexy times, look on the bright side, at least you will be getting sexy times!
So hazar for getting fit, it’s awesome. This is usually the part where you decide to put “getting fit” or something similar on your annual set of New Year’s resolutions, walk down to the Fit Store, buy some Fit Products and then you get Fit right?
Alas if only it were that easy.
The “get fit” New Year’s resolution usually fails for the same reason that the “lose weight” and the “get organised” or the “spend less, save more” resolutions fail – they are too broadly defined. If you want to get fit and be healthy, you’ve got to break that down into some achievable, measurable goals.
What Are Good Health and Fitness Goals?
So first things, first – there is no silver bullet solution. Silver bullets are only good for shooting werewolves – who are totally much fitter than those damn emo-vampires by the way.
The health and fitness goals you set for yourself will need to be suited to your particular circumstances, as well as your existing strengths and weaknesses. This also means your health and fitness goals are going to be changing over time as you go from being un-fit, to being sexy-fit.
So here are 9 health areas to think about when choosing your awesome, but specific and accountable and health and fitness goals to aim for.
Potential Goal 1: Get your weight in your sweet spot
Obesity is a BIG problem (pardon the pun), but there are also plenty of un-fit skinny people out there too. So rather than obsessing over weight loss, what you really want to do is get within a weight range that is suitable to your body and current level of fitness.
Working out your BMI (body mass index) is often a good start to determine what weight range you should be, and a quick use of a famous internet search engine will pretty quickly give you some online BMI calculators to use. A word of caution though – BMI is not a perfect measure of your ‘ideal’ weight. Your BMI will only let you know if you are significantly overweight or underweight for your age and height.
There is a tendency to over-simplify things to fat=bad, low weight=good, but in terms of actually assessing your health and fitness, the way in which fat is distributed across your body is more important than your total weight. There are plenty of fit people who weigh a lot because muscle mass is quite heavy. There are other heavy things in your body that contribute to your total weight like your brain, retained water, your bones and even your gut bacteria – getting rid of any of these to reduce your weight would kill you, not to mention create a lot of mess.
On the other hand, there are plenty of people who don’t weigh much overall, but have what I call a ‘guppy shaped body’ where all the fat they do have is concentrated around their gut. Regardless of your total weight, a big waistline is a red flag that you are unfit. So if you do have a big gut, you might want to think about reducing that as your goal rather than obsessing over your total weight.
Potential Goal 2: Make food your friend
Working out your diet is a bit like working out what clothes to wear so you don’t look like someone from www.peopleofwalmart.com. Resorting to a fad diet however is a bit like joining a cult in which the uniform is a one-size-fits all snuggie.
Food for is not your enemy, food is your friend as it is also the raw materials you need in order to be a sexy beast that rules the world benevolently with style and poise. Your goals in regards to diet should therefore be about eating the right kinds of food in the right proportions to suit a healthy lifestyle.
If you are looking for advice on a diet, a good place to start is the CSIRO – which is a publicly funded research establishment that has actual scientists in it doing research that is backed up with evidence. So they basically the opposite of those dieting companies that take everyone’s money while obesity rates continue to increase.
Alternatively, you can also seek assistance from a dietitian. Unlike a nutritionist, a dietitian has academic and practical recognised qualifications so they will able to give you specific advice in picking some eating goals based on your specific needs. If you are really lucky you might find out you have some obscure allergy, in which case you’ll be totally niche.
Potential Goal 3: Build strength, but not obsess about the boobies
Whereas women tend to be encouraged to be unhealthily skinny, men are often encouraged to have muscles in all the wrong places. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to a condition I call “Useless Muscle Syndrome”, or UMS (pronounced “ummmms….”). UMS is where someone only works out the show-boating muscles: boobies (pectorals), guns (biceps) and abs (abdominal). You can tell them apart from normal people by their crab-like walk and teeny tiny legs that are out of proportion to their top half.
Anyone with UMS is also really useless in real life – they are so out of proportion and have no core strength, so they are totally useless at helping you move furniture when you move house. They are also going to be really useless at shooting zombies and/or rescuing anyone from a burning building because neither involve involve a bench press.
Someone with UMS also has a high chance of being a self-obsessed wanker.
So if you want to build strength, but do it in a useful way, you might want to consider seeing a Personal Trainer who will sit down with you and work out some health and fitness goals in this area that are going to be a little more balanced and less crab-like.
Potential Goal 4: Try standing up
A lot of us are sitting down all day and it’s killing us. Unfortunately, the sitting down epidemic is not something you can alleviate by exercising, you still have to just sit down less.
This has led to the recent interest in standing desks and treadmill desks, though even just having a reminder to stand up and walk around on a regular basis is also a good start. Essentially though, there are plenty of goals you can set yourself in this area to improve your posture and increase your life span, just by standing up more often.
If you want really detailed advice, go to a physiotherapist. A physio will be able to give you a personalised assessment of what’s wrong with your posture, as well as some goals in the form of particular exercises and stretches you can do to help correct it.
Potential Goal 5: Be useful in a post-apocalypse with aerobic fitness
A slow-moving muscle Mary is going to be a slow-moving zombie in a post-apocalyptic world.
Cardiovascular exercise is totally over-looked by a lot of people, particularly if they are obsessed with looking pretty. It’s a shame really, since the ever over-looked cardio workout is so beneficial to overall health and well being on so many levels.
Recent research also indicates that you can get a lot of the health benefits from cardio in a really short time (like 3 minutes) with High Intensity Training (HIT). So basically, you should have at least one cardio-based health and fitness goal in the mix.
Potential Goal 6: Learn how to relax
Being fit and healthy is not all about climbing mountains and running away from zombies, you also need to have time to rest as well as learn to develop good coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. In this regard, regular meditation is highly beneficial for your health.
The easiest way to get a regular dose of meditation and similar activities is to take up something like Tai Chi and/or Yoga. Both involve training you to focus your mind, controlled breathing, promote core strength and ultimately, learn how to turn on your inner calm when needed.
The thing to remember about both Tai Chi and Yoga is that you don’t have to be flexible to start doing either of them, you just have to be willing to show up!
Potential Goal 7: Get more sleepy bobo
Most people living in a modern economy or a Guantanamo Bay prison cell is probably suffering from sleep deprivation. Aside from being a form of torture, sleep deprivation is also undermining your health in all sorts of ways.
Plus the all-nighter is totally last century.
The recommended number of hours you should be sleeping is 7-9 hours a day, though this can vary between adults (kids are crazy and generally have to sleep more). The easiest way to tell if you aren’t getting enough sleep is through symptoms such as chronic tiredness, dozing off during the day whenever you have a moment of quiet, and/or waking up feeling really tired.
These days there are HEAPS of apps you can use to monitor and assess your sleeping patterns. There are also plenty of tips out there for improving your sleep quality that include everything from the layout of your bedroom, to the colour of the lights you are looking at at certain times of the day. You can pretty much find heaps of good goals to aim for when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.
Potential Goal 8: Find your Scooby Gang
It would appear that our great and glorious brains evolved in order to manage our complex social structures. Basically, our efforts to become popular have made us smarter since being a Mean Girl requires a great deal of plotting and scheming.
A spin off is that our overall health and fitness is also impacted by our ability (or inability) to form social bonds. Social isolation makes us feel bad and has all sorts of negative health impacts. It’s why putting someone in an isolation cell is a form of punishment, and why being a nigel-no-friends is such a traumatic experience for school kids.
So if you want to be fit and healthy, you need to have good friends. This is not the same as 100s of Facebook ‘friends’ you never talk to and most of which are probably spam bots anyway, you need to be in regular face-to-face contact with people you get along well with who mutually reinforce your self esteem.
Ideally, you also want to use your Scooby Gang group of close friends to go fight crime and go on regular (maybe even weekly) adventures with. The reason being is that your Facebook status updates will improve significantly, thereby making life much more entertaining for the rest of us.
In fact, make that a social goal – have a social life that results in Facebook status updates that are actually entertaining for the rest of us.
9: Be a cheap ass and prevent rather than cure
If you work at improving your health and fitness you are already working towards preventing a whole range of nasty and inconvenient diseases. However, here are a few more things to throw into the mix that will also help reduce your chances of being inconvenienced by terminal diseases:
Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated or get the plague, it’s pretty simple really. Getting the plague is far more annoying than getting a needle – the plague is also really going to screw up your social life.
Go to the dentist regularly. Dental health is often overlooked, but bad teeth and gums can lead to all sorts of problems, including death. Think about it this way, do you really want a hunk of festering infection that close to your brain?
Don’t smoke, or quit smoking today. Smoking will eventually ensure you get emphysema, unless that is you get lung cancer first. Or heart disease. Or diabetes. etc.
Drink in moderation. If you get drunk or tipsy, that means that you are officially binge drinking. It’s also a symptom of your body being under stress as it is failing to properly process all that alcohol you are chugging down on. Damage your kidneys like this enough times and you will get cirrhosis of the liver. Drinking in moderation is also a good way to prevent yourself from posting embarrassing selfies on Facebook
Use a daily moisturiser or sunscreen. This is how Brad Pitt is 50 years old but still considered sexy. It will also reduce your chances of skin cancer and looking like an over-tanned gold jewelry-wearing leatherback turtle. If you are worried about vitamin D deficiency, just remember that the amount of sunlight you need is actually quite small and a tan is always a symptom of skin damage.
A single “get fit” (or similar) entry on your list of New Year’s resolutions is not going to magically make you fit and will just set you up for failure and disappointment.
The truth is, you will never be “fit and healthy”. It’s not like an achievements ranking that pops up on your Xbox live account that conveniently lets you know when you’ve finally achieved the SMG Mastery achievement on Mass Effect (SMG’s are silly weapons anyway, they shoot all over the place). Your health and fitness is something you have to work on forever and constantly adapt your goals to change as you change throughout your life.
The trick is to stop obsessing over the scale of the challenge and focus more on the achievable goals you are going to set yourself instead. No one ever became fit, healthy, attractive, wealthy and popular just by wishing upon a star like in some patriarchal Disney story. The people we think of as being “fit and healthy” became that way because they set themselves small, achievable goals – and then set themselves new goals when they achieved those ones.
Should “stay fit and healthy” be on your next set of New Year’s resolutions? Maybe try something a little more specific instead.