by Ami Ipapo …

Ah, the F’s of February – flu season, finding a date for Valentine’s Day and failing New Year’s resolutions. If you’re anything like myself, you’ve had a great start to 2011, filled with ass-kicking, sweat-inducing self-motivation. And now as February rounds the corner and the initial workout high has passed, you’re already reaching for the late night ice cream and giving yourself permission to skip your morning run.

Maybe you’ve set goals that are too high, too specific, somewhat unrealistic or just downright boring. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what a “New Year’s resolution” should be. For instance, 

I was skimming through my stepmother’s online blog recently and came across a post entitled “EAT LESS, MOVE MORE.” Aha! I thought…If only it were that easy. My first instinct was to dismiss it as a novice approach and read no further. After all, why would a fitness professional such as myself take advice from an overweight, middle-aged, southern suburban housewife?

There was something about the simplicity of her statement that spoke to me, however. In a society where the idea of well-being has been clouded by extreme diets, trendy workouts, ridiculous fitness contraptions and swanky health clubs, maybe it’s time we got back to basics. Maybe suburban stepmom is on to something! 

I was similarly inspired by a recent reading of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. In this layman’s guide to nutrition, Pollan outlines some very basic food rules–a few of my favorites are “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food,” and “Avoid food products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar or unpronounceable.” Pollan gives us a simple answer to the increasingly complicated question of the human diet: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

If this kind of simplicity works for nutrition, I thought, then why not apply it to fitness? In an effort to simplify my own New Year’s resolutions (or even successfully incorporate them into an increasingly hectic New York lifestyle), I decided to wipe my slate clean and start over with my own personal list of basic “fitness rules.”

1. Eat well. Eating well means maintaining a diet that supports your activity level and lifestyle. Personally, I’m making an effort to eat a breakfast that sustains me through six hours of morning clients, and to pack a healthy lunch each day.

2. Move more. For me, this means bypassing the escalator and taking the stairs in the subway station each time I come home…all 133 of them. Trust me, every step makes a difference!

3. Sleep better. One of the most difficult things for me to do is get to bed early when I have an early start the following day. With my new early bedtime, the additional energy I get from the extra hour of sleep is well worth passing up that late night rerun of The Golden Girls!

4. Drink more. (Water!) I pretty much live with a water bottle attached to my hip. Those of you who know me can attest to that.

5. Drink less. (Alcohol!) And my, how the tolerance has gone down when I do indulge in a cocktail!

6. Don’t forget playtime! So, so important. Just one day, one afternoon, or even an hour to relax and unwind can make a world of difference in a busy workweek.

The happier you are, the more likely you’ll be to reach your goals!

 There you have it – six simple ideas to keep in mind throughout the day. These small resolutions are sticking better than any complicated workout makeover attempts from years passed (and my stepmother has lost 10 pounds!) I invite you to try my list, and I encourage you to create your own.

 I understand that not everyone has the time to make it to the gym everyday or the means to hire a trainer. But that shouldn’t be an excuse–you can start making a few small steps toward positive change today! All journeys begin with a single step.

So this Valentine’s Day, stop stressing over finding a date and start to K.I.S.S. yourself. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

1 comment

  1. Comment by Paul Ochoa

    Paul Ochoa February 19, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Excellent suggestions Ami!
    My top three favorites are Sleep more, Drink more and Move more. We all know how important sleeping and hydration is but most people do not realize the importance of movement on a daily basis. If your daily routine requires you to sit at a desk or stand in one position for a majority of the day, movement has to be your number one priority! When assessing a patient, I not only look at their static posture but I emphasize correct dynamic postures as well.

    Good luck to everyone in the new year,
    Paul Ochoa
    Doctor of Physical therapy

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