Slim chance: Fitness resolutions tend to fail

Photo by Andrea Poteet

Kattie Little reads while working out on a stationary bicycle at Fit Zone for Women in Riverview Tuesday. Little is one of many Downriver residents who will fill gyms with hopes of slimming down in the new year.

Sunday Times Newspapers

As Kattie Little peddles on the stationary bicycle inside Fit Zone for Women, she keeps her goals in mind.

The 19 year-old Riverview resident hopes to work off 20 pounds by June, and attends the gym, on Fort Street in the city, several times a week to hit the aerobic and weight equipment.

“This is my first time back after the holidays,” she said. “I’ve just been so busy.”

Little and many other Downriver residents will attend gyms in full force in the coming weeks to work off extra holiday pounds and jump-start New Year’s resolutions of slimming down.

Fit Zone Manager Stephanie Garrett said enrollment at the gym increases by nearly 80 percent in late January and early February and that many who begin fitness regimes then are looking to shed pounds as part of a New Year’s resolution.

Most of them, she said, will not succeed.

The jump in enrollment at the gym at the beginning of the year takes a nosedive after about 90 days.

“Most of the time people fall off with their routine because it’s work,” Garrett said. “It doesn’t get any easier, so they give up.”

At Oakwood Gym and Fitness, in Melvindale, enrollment peaks right after the first of the year and starts declining after two months, manager Dean Langell said.

He said those who fill the gym at the beginning of the year usually are not truly serious about improving their health and don’t want to invest the time it requires.

“It’s a commitment for a lot of people,” Langell said. “They’re not into taking care of themselves. A lot of people make excuses.”

In a 2002 study published in the Journal of Clinical Physchology, people who made resolutions kept them, at least at first. A month into the new year, 64 percent of participants kept their resolutions. By six months, that number had dropped to 46 percent.

At Fit Zone, Garrett said when clients are struggling to stick with a fitness program, the answer is usually variety.

“If they come in and just do their same routine in the same order every day, that’s not good for your routine, it’s not good for your body and you’re not going to lose weight that way,” she said. “You’re going to fall off the wagon because you make yourself bored. It becomes a job.”

She said trying out different classes can help keep clients from getting bored. They also tend to meet new friends in the classes, which is added incentive to keep coming. High cardio-aerobic classes such as Zumba, a Latin-influenced dance workout, are popular at the gym, along with classes like yoga and Pilates, which tend to focus more on stretching and less on aerobics.

Forty-five minutes a day of cardio-aerobic activity a day will help burn fat and maintain weight loss, she said.

She said shooting for 90 minutes of activity three days a week is a good guideline. The American Heart Association recommends striving for physical activity 30 minutes a day, five times a week.

Working with a personal trainer can also benefit clients, Garrett said. A trainer will take into account a client’s medical history, schedule, sleeping habits and eating habits to customize a plan that works best, she said.

But shaping up takes more than a treadmill. Lori Armstrong, clinical nutrition supervisor at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, said food choices are just as important.

One of the most important tips she gives patients is not to skip meals. Breakfast, she said is especially important. Skipping breakfast can signal starvation and make the body burn calories slower and set up a dieter to overeat later.

She recommends starting with small, healthy choices, like fruit or toast, for those who usually don’t eat breakfast. Trying new fruits and vegetables can also add color and variety to meals, she said. And eating more frequent, smaller meals, instead of three large meals, can also help stave off hunger and prevent overeating, she said.

Another tip is to keep a food diary including the food eaten, the portion size, and the activity done while eating, she said. Many people who overeat do so because they are focused on something other than what is going into their mouth.

“When they eat they are doing other things,” Armstrong said. “It becomes a mindless type of eating that way.”

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