The following column was written by Kimberly Burke, director of CSU's Adult Fitness Program.
With spring upon us, and summer in the not too distant future, many become concerned with that time of year when clothes are a little more revealing. When it comes to our bodies and whatever goals we may have, there are some helpful tips that will help you sort out fact from fiction.
1.) Make small changes over time - reliance on quick fixes is not going to get you long-term results.
Envision that it is early March and you plan to go the beach over spring break. Keep in mind that two weeks is not enough time to have a total body transformation as a realistic goal. I hope you agree with me that it isn't. So rather than making drastic decisions and trying to accomplish in two weeks what normally takes eight to 12, it may be best to focus on the healthy choices. Quick fixes are not sustainable -- they are the very definition of doing little work now and leaving more work for later. Going on an extreme diet, or partaking in unnecessarily high amounts of cardio aren't maintained well in the long run. Yes, by only eating 1,500 calories a day and exercising off 400 calories you'll experience weight loss. But you might also experience dehydration, dizziness, malnutrition, fatigue, not to mention place a ton of stress on many systems of the body, possibly affecting your natural metabolism levels (how well you convert what you eat into energy). And once your new exercise/diet regimes are over, well that's when the weight comes back on. So is the weight loss really worth it, when you can make more realistic small changes that can be sustained and become a life habit, rather than a temporary extreme?
2.) Choose what you love for your "workout"
Nothing beats hard work -- you're going to have to exercise and eat right to see the benefits of exercising and eating right. Unfortunately I've never come across a magic formula or secret information that led to body transformations that didn't involve one or the other (and most often both). But the good news is hard work is for you to determine. Hard work for some may mean weight lifting, it may mean running, it may mean exciting cardio dance classes, but what's important is that it doesn't feel like work because they enjoyed themselves while doing it (keep in mind, though, you should be breaking a sweat).
3.) Develop a long-term plan
You may be willing to work hard at the gym prior to spring break or your summer vacation, but what happens once you're on vacation? Many take the mindset that it's vacation and it's time to indulge, but the unfortunate consequence is that you could lose all of your gains very quickly. So instead of making drastic changes you're going to throw out the window, why not make smaller ones that you could hold yourself to even on vacation. Many hotels offer cardio/weight rooms, and some places even offer classes. Not to mention that the best and least costly way to get around on vacation is walking. Vacations definitely are meant for some relaxation, but it is important to remember that you have a life to return to, and the better you take care of yourself on vacation, the less work you have to do upon returning.
Kimberly Burke is the director of the Adult Fitness Program at Colorado State University, an outreach program through the Department of Health and Exercise Science. Adult Fitness offers exercise opportunities for employees of CSU as well as community members, while providing hands-on learning experiences for health promotion students. To learn more see http://hes.chhs.colostate.edu/outreach/adultfitness/