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Make 2009 the year of ‘you’ and get in shape

Get in the best shape of your life

Posted: January 8, 2009 9:52 p.m.
Updated: January 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Did you know that only about 45 percent of us actually write out New Year's resolutions? According to a survey, that's down from 88 percent. The reported reason was that only about 8 percent of us achieve our resolutions, so most people don't believe they work. The problem is most people don't follow through.

During the holidays, did you wear your skinny jeans or was it your frumpy holiday sweater? Was it the frumpy fat clothes for one more year and you swore to yourself that next year would be different? Next holiday season you would be a couple sizes smaller, feeling good about yourself, wearing something fabulous? You would get rid of your belly fat once and for all?

Every year you say to yourself, "This is the year of me! This is the year I take care of myself. This is the year I get in the best shape of my life." Then the year starts and January is so busy you don't have time to get started yet, but you'll definitely put yourself first starting in February. And then February flies by and summer is quickly approaching and you still haven't quite been able to get started on your goal and make this THE year of "me," but you will - the year isn't over yet. Starting on ... Monday ... yeah ... Monday you'll start ... The year flies by so quickly - "Happy New Year ... Happy Birthday ... Merry Christmas and before you know it - we are back to Happy New Year!" And once again you are in your frumpy holiday sweater covering up your belly fat and you'll start again in the New Year. Sound familiar?

How can you guarantee 2009 is THE year to get in the best shape of your life?

What will it take and are you willing to do what it takes? These are the questions we will answer in this article and give you a step-by-step action plan to achieve the best shape of your life in 2009.

Setting powerful goals bridges the gap between knowing what to do and actually following through and doing it. Skipping this step will set you up for failure. Right now - grab a pen and paper and start writing.

Remember: Someday ... is today. 

* What do you want to accomplish in 2009? Write it down and put it on your fridge. Fit into a certain size clothes, be able to walk up a flight of stairs without stopping, running a 5K, have more energy - there is something very powerful about writing down what you want and putting it somewhere you can see it, this will make you more likely to take the actions necessary to reach that goal. You should also tell as many people as you know to keep you accountable. Don't keep it a secret. 

* Next to each goal write down a powerful reason why you want to reach your goal. Without a powerful reason it will be hard to accomplish the goal. Obstacles will come up that will sideline you but having a powerful reason why will keep you on track. Really think about this one. 

* Break your big goal into smaller goals. Figure out where you want to be three months from now. If you have a big birthday this year or a reunion - make it one of your goals.

* Do your behaviors match your written goals? Check in with yourself regularly and ask yourself, "Will eating this get me closer to my goal? Will working out today get me closer to my goal?" Your behaviors must match your goals. Hint: To change your body you will have to get out of your comfort zone and take actions different from what you usually take. Keep doing what you are already doing, and you'll get what you already have! Change your habits! You can lose 20 pounds of fat by the end of March and be ready for summer if you decide that is what you want today, and take action.

Before we start ...

This is an all or nothing deal if you want to be in the best shape of your life this year. You're either in it 100 percent or you're not. There is no allowance for half measures or the countless excuses that people normally give themselves when they start a diet and exercise program.

There are no breaking-in periods, no cheat days and no "well I followed most of it." There is also no having one more night off to "get it out of your system." You have had enough of those and it is time to get serious. 2009 is your year.

At first this approach may sound a little harsh, but it's totally necessary if you are to be successful in ridding yourself of long-term fat you've been storing. That is because if you continue to eat and drink the foods you have been eating and drinking, however small they may be, you simply will not reach your goals. Remember, does your behavior match your goals?

In effect you will waste your time and effort entirely. Remember this is an all or nothing deal. So, the choice is yours. Do you want to get in the best shape of your life in 2009? Then don't set yourself up for failure by meddling with the information in this article - take action today and don't look back.

Most diet books try to convince you from the start how it's going to be easy and fun to follow their regimes and they are usually anything but fun and certainly not easy. The reality is always different.

Rather than telling you things are going to be simple for you, I am going to tell you the opposite. In fact, the first few days of changing a lifestyle are going to be hard for most people. Anytime you want to make a change your body will fight you. Our bodies are constantly trying to maintain homeostasis (staying the same). Our bodies do not want to change, it is too much work.

1. Go "cold turkey." Eliminate all sugar and processed foods completely. Your body is most likely addicted to sugar and processed foods. If you think "addiction" is too strong a word then just wait and see what happens when you take them away. You'll get energy swings, mood swings, you'll feel stressed, tired and more than just a little jittery. The good news is that it only takes a few days to break these addictions once you are mentally ready to do so. In fact, most people find that 3-4 days are enough to smash their dependent cravings for sugar and processed foods. But they have to go cold turkey. Completely eliminate all sugar and processed foods from your diet, eating only whole natural foods.

2. Be prepared. Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks and eliminate anything that is likely to make you slip up. If it is packaged or processed throw it out. Your food should be made up of whole, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, yogurt and nuts. Make a trip to the grocery store and stock your kitchen. Be sure to have plenty of healthy choices to choose from. Have a plan of what you will eat everyday and try not to stray from it. Pack a small ice chest each morning full of healthy foods.

3. Eat small meals throughout the day. Part of your plan should include getting your day started right with a healthy breakfast and every couple of hours feed your body with a small snack such as a yogurt, some almonds or some sliced turkey. This will keep your metabolism going and you'll be less likely to blow it.

4. Work out six days a week. You have to make exercise a priority. Just like you clock in to work each day, you need to clock in for your workout. There is no exception and no excuse. Just do it. Figure out what time of day you are least likely to blow it off and make it an appointment for yourself six days a week. I highly recommend joining a gym to have a place to "clock in" to. Working out outdoors is great, but you do need to include resistance-training in your program, too. Set yourself a schedule and stick to it. It will become a habit.

5. Boost your metabolism. As part of your six-day-a-week regimen, include strength training as part of your workout routine at least two days a week, preferably three to four days week. Strength training will boost your metabolism, burn calories and give you a lean toned look rather than a flabby look. Use core training including body weight exercises such as lunges and squats. Working your muscles in a full-body program will give you a boost in your metabolism for 24-48 hours.

6. Burn up calories. On opposite days from your strength training, use cardio to burn calories. This can be done outdoors or in the gym, but put in at least 30 minutes at a high intensity. This doesn't mean walking at a snail's pace on the treadmill while staring at the television. Work hard enough that you can't carry on a conversation with your friend next to you and can't watch television. You aren't there to socialize; you are there to get closer to your goal. You can also use an interval circuit with body weight exercises or kettlebells to get your cardio benefit and burn up some calories instead of boring walks on the treadmill to nowhere.

7. Hire a coach or get a training partner. The only people who do follow through with their New Year's resolutions are the ones who take it seriously and hire a coach or have someone to keep them accountable. This will increase your chances of reaching your goals and will help you to stick to your plan. Having a coach to keep you accountable is one of the keys to success when it comes to fitness. You have to have a team of support, you can't do this alone. One of your first steps is to figure out who is on your team. Which gym will you join, will you hire a coach or do you have a training partner? Who will come up with the plan for your workouts? If you don't want to have a coach working with you every workout, counting every rep, consider hiring one to write a new program to follow once a month and then follow it on your own. Check in at the end of the month to get a new program and to be accountable.

8. Do what you are not used to doing. The only way to change your body is to do something different from what you are used to. You have to get out of your comfort zone, change your habits and do something to put a demand on your body that it is not already comfortable doing. Try something completely different like kettlebells or ropes gone wild.

Decide what you want out of your life in 2009 and go after it. Be part of the 8 percent who keeps their resolutions. Wake up each day and take action and one day at a time you will be closer to your goal. 2009 will be the year you get in the best shape of your life. Decide today and take action today. And don't forget to enjoy the journey.

Rachel Cosgrove is a fitness author, speaker and coach. She owns Results Fitness, named one of America's Top 30 gyms by Men's Health Magazine in 2008, located off of Lyons Avenue at 24420 Walnut St., Newhall. She has been published in Shape, Muscle and Fitness Hers and Oxygen magazine and in October 2009 is her first book, Fit Chick Challenge. Results Fitness is celebrating their grand reopening 7 p.m. Jan. 29 with an open house and will be kicking off their 2009 Skinny Jeans Challenge. Visit or call for more information (661) 799-7900.


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