KUALA LUMPUR: As January draws to a close, the curtain also tends to fall on the number one New Year resolution – working out to get trim and fit.
“Every Jan 1, we see about 50% more people joining the gym but this only lasts for about two weeks,” said Fitness First personal trainer Izwan Agil, 30.
“Then the frequency drops – they go from exercising three to four times a week to maybe once a week.”
Izwan said the key was not on how much one exercised.
“You cannot beat a poor diet which is high in trans fat, sugar and carbs. Start with a balanced diet first,” said Izwan.
This is the time people go back to work after the year-end holidays, and good intentions often fall prey to a busy schedule.
Wilson Ng, a 38-year-old travel blogger, is testimony to that.
“Every new year, I resolve to exercise and slim down, but then find I have no time. Especially because I travel so much!” he said.
Motivation also wanes when results don’t come fast enough.
Over-reaching and then falling into a guilt spiral is another reason that fitness goals lapse.
“A lot of people try to make too extreme a change to their diets, rather than just changing one or two things at a time – and that is difficult no matter how disciplined you are,” said nutritionist Alexandra Prabaharan, 34.
“You can actually track this pattern just from Facebook statuses. In the first week of January, they will be very gung-ho, then they slide and binge, then they feel guilty and post that they messed up. Then it becomes a cycle of guilt, and many people give up altogether,” she said.
Public relations head Reuben Yuvaraj, 32, knows exactly what that’s like.
“I stuck with a diet for two weeks, but didn’t take into consideration the fact that I’m a stress eater. Work got stressful, so I started snacking again! And then the Chinese New Year hampers started coming in – resolution fail!” he said.
Alexandra suggested making small, manageable changes over the whole year.
“For instance, switch brown rice for white. Then, when you are comfortable with that, make the next change, like cutting out sweet drinks,” she said.
“Set small diet goals, meet them, move on to the next and by the year-end you might find your whole diet has changed.”
Corporate coach and trainer Sheila Singam is of the same mind.
“One of the reasons resolutions fail is a lack of clear-cut goals. When you set goals, they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and set within a timeframe.
“A resolution implies a solution to a problem. You need to start with the end in mind, to be clear on what you want, and plan on how to achieve it,” she said.
That’s the approach senior lecturer Ronald Binati, 33, is taking.
Motivated by his doctor’s advice to cut down his body fat percentage, he has started a fitness regime which involves preparing healthy food at home and going to the gym three times a week.
“I did a lot of research, and I keep a food journal,” he said.
“It’s not easy, because I love eating, but I visualise my goals daily and I’ve managed to stick to it by thinking about the long-term health benefits,” he said.