By ANGIE CARNATHAN
It’s the time of year again when many of us declare our New Year’s resolutions, only to see them fall to the wayside in a matter of weeks. One of the most popular resolutions is to lose weight, although it has one of the highest burn-out rates. However, as one local trainer said, there is a way to choose a different path this year that might help some succeed where they’ve failed before.
Elaine Schimpf, trainer at the Wellness Connection at Oktibbeha County Hospital,
said knowing the countless benefits of regular exercise can help people look at their plan in a new way. One of those benefits is stress relief.
“If you’re suffering from anxiety, exercise can really help make a difference in your daily life,” Schimpf said. “It can help you get healthier in so many ways, because stress is a major cause of health problems today. It can lower your cholesterol, it can change your body composition and help you lose unwanted pounds that may be making some health problems worse. There are so many benefits to exercise outside of losing weight, but losing weight is definitely a plus.”
Schimpf said choosing a healthier lifestyle has to be more than just a resolution, and that although setting goals is a great motivator, people need to be ready to make a long-term commitment in order to succeed.
“Even if you start off just with a plan to exercise twice a week, that’s better than doing nothing,” Schimpf said. “A lot of people make the mistake in January of starting off doing too much too fast, and as soon as they miss one day, they give up. “You have to set very realistic goals. Begin by doing two days a week, and after a while, add another day and make it three. By starting off slowly and not demanding so much of your body in a short period of time, you are much more likely to stick with your program.”
Two additional key points are important to remember, according to Schimpf. One of these is keeping your exercise schedule flexible.
“If you tell yourself you’re going to work out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and something comes up at the end of the week and you miss that Friday workout, you’re more likely to get down on yourself and give up,” Schimpf said. “So don’t be so hard on yourself. You can work out any day of the week, just commit to getting the exercise in when it fits into your schedule, and let that schedule change from week to week if you need to.”
The other point, said Schimpf, is to pick an activity you enjoy in order to successfully stick with a new routine.
“If you know you hate the treadmill, don’t get on the treadmill,” Schimpf said. “There are a million ways to get your heart rate up and gain the benefits from consistent exercise. You can dance around your house while doing chores, you can walk around your neighborhood, you can choose an exercise class that you like. Just choose something that you actually enjoy doing, and I promise you, when you finish that work out, you’re going to feel better, and if you stick with it, you’re going to look better, too.”
Schimpf, a working wife and mother herself, said she understands that many people feel overwhelmed between their home and work life and don’t see how they can add workouts to their already packed schedules.
“I hear that from people a lot, and what I tell them is that I understand,” Schimpf said. “There are days when I’m ready to leave work and not stay and do that 30 minutes that I know I need to do. But what I tell myself, and what I tell other people, is that that 30 minutes of exercise makes me a better wife, mother, friend and co-worker. I burn all that stress off so that I don’t go home and act cranky around my family.”
Exercise is a great way to spend time with her friends as well, Schimpf said.
“Working out with a buddy is a great motivator, because there’s that level of accountability,” Schimpf said. “That’s when I have my girl time with my best friend –– we walk and talk. It’s good for your body and your soul.”
Schimpf said she sees the gym pick up business every January and sees the crowd start to thin out in February. She said she believes this results from people’s misconception about exercise.
“It’s not about a resolution; it’s not a quick fix,” Schimpf said. “It’s not about bathing suit season coming up. It’s a lifestyle. It’s amazing the difference just 20 minutes here and there can do.”
For more information about the Wellness Connection at OCH, please call 662-323-9355.