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Making Fitness Your Priority Beyond the New Year

In the New Year, like clockwork, New Year’s resolutioners flock to their local fitness facilities with the hope that this year will be different in terms of achieving their fitness goals. Though, come spring, much of that New Year’s motivation is lost.

Val Kirk, a personal trainer at the YWCA, suggests looking at fitness as an opportunity for a long-term lifestyle change that will ultimately benefit your overall wellness rather than viewing it as a short-term New Year’s resolution.

Many resolutions are fixated on measuring fitness and well-being through the number shown on the scale or through physical appearance, as opposed to appreciating the little ways that indicate that your hard work is indeed paying off.

Moreover, in the beginning of the year, we tend to commit to drastic changes in lifestyle rather than easing into the change and setting attainable goals.

Small achievable goals

Kirk advises: instead of starting off the year wanting to lose 30 pounds, begin by setting small, yet achievable goals that help maintain motivation and the excitement of exercising. Kirk shares her own personal story in hopes of inspiring others to make their health and wellness a priority, not only in the new year but also as a commitment to their overall health.

“I wanted a good quality of life so I started getting more into fitness,” said Kirk. “I became a personal trainer, I started training people and, at that particular time, it was fantastic. I had lost 30 pounds. Now, I’m 57 and I’ve kept this off for almost 35 years.”

Forget the number on the scale

After her own lifestyle change, Kirk aims to coach those who may be looking to do the same. Kirk speaks on the importance of focusing on overall health and wellness rather than that sometimes dreaded number on the scale. She suggests this approach for anyone who is starting or continuing their fitness journey. Everybody and every body is different and Kirk asserts that it can be a slow process.

“I would not go about making any resolutions. They get broken eventually,” explained Kirk. “I would just tell them, ‘Why don’t you focus on your health? Just start by doing one thing and then see how it goes. It takes at least 21 times for something to become a habit.’”

Try tech to help you stay on track

As a method of staying motivated, Kirk gives credit to her Fitbit, a personal fitness tracker, as a tool that helps her stay on track with her own personal health and wellness journey. Though fitness trackers can do much more than track your steps­, Kirk admits that the step counter is one of the features that pushes her throughout her day. It allows her to set new step goals and beat them–an example of a small, achievable goal for those looking for somewhere to start.

Variety is important

Kirk also explains the importance of incorporating variety when it comes to exercising, as fitness routines can sometimes become monotonous, which can cause people to lose interest in exercising altogether.

“I know people get bored rather quickly and I am one of them,” confesses Kirk. “I like to mix up a lot of different things. One day maybe I’ll go for a walk or next day I’m going to go for a run or a swim. Doing something different each day keeps a person motivated.”

Mixing in different forms of exercise will help prevent fitness from becoming a burden or a chore and, fortunately, the YWCA facility offers a wide range of classes, such as yoga, aqua fitness, and Zumba to name a few, that keep exercise fun and exciting for anyone at any fitness level.

“As a personal trainer, I have seen so many people wanting just to be healthy. Just to be able to go up and down stairs. Just to be able to pick something off the floor. Once you’re healthy, daily living is so much easier. People do have heart issues, people do have osteoporosis, people have diabetes and all those things but fitness helps to stave off some of those issues. Even if they have those issues, [exercise] still helps the body cope. It helps the body, mentally and physically, when you’re fit.”

Celebrate non-scale victories

Kirk touches on “non-scale victories,” which are alternative ways to track your fitness journey­ that, as the phrase suggests, do not involve a scale. For instance, having to use one less hole on your belt or fitting into your old favourite jeans again are a few indications of the fitness and health changes that are being made.

Overall health can also be tracked in a multitude of ways, like being able to take the stairs to your office without huffing and puffing, or having the energy level to play outside with your kids for longer than you were able to previously.

Non-scale victories can easily be overlooked because they are not quantitatively measured, but they are still a cause for celebration according to Kirk. At times, people who struggle to stay committed to health may measure their weight loss strictly based on the number on the scale and can overlook giving themselves the well-deserved credit for how far they have come.

“Everybody is different,” said Kirk. “I think they’ve got to be happy in their own skin, with wherever they are in their journey, and with whatever they’ve accomplished. I say go back to where you first started and congratulate yourself on for what you have accomplished.”

By Lyndall Mack

Photo by Dave Stobbe