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Make Your New Year’s Weight Loss Resolution Stick

Resolve to develop routines and keep records

Resolve to develop routines and keep records.

Those extra pounds from cookies and eggnog may not be troubling you now, but come spring, they’ll feel like tons during the final stage of an off-road triathlon or on the steepest hills in a bike race.

Can you shed those extra pounds quickly, just before the next race season starts? Maybe, but if you want lasting, healthy results, you’ll aim for a pound or two a week, and start now. To get started, here’s a simple formula from Heidi Anderson, a dietician at WellWorks, the fitness and nutrition program at Ohio University:

3,500 calories = 1 pound of body weight.

In other words, a body needs a deficit of 3,500 calories in order to lose a pound. Heidi’s preferred approach to creating that deficit involves a combination of cutting calories and adding exercise. “This can be translated to decreasing your calorie intake by 250 calories a day and increasing your physical activity by 250 calories a day to come up with 3,500 calories in a week,” Heidi explains.

Track your intake and output. Jeni Roosen and many of her cyclocross teammates on the Cincinnati Cycle Club swear by FitDay (www.fitday.com), a free online diet and exercise journal that allows registered members to set weight goals and track progress, including calculators for nutrition, body mass index and calories burned during exercise.

“Writing something down makes you accountable,” Jeni says. “And I mean a food diary, a fitness diary, everything. Because then you can’t say, ‘I’m not where I want to be and I don’t know why.’ You know why.”

Establish a routine. Many people do. But few stick with it. The New Year’s resolution attendance ‘bump’ at fitness centers usually is over by Valentine’s Day, says John Katsares, personal trainer coordinator for Ohio State University’s Recreation and Physical Activity Center.

“The problem lies in how the individual goes about his or her plan of attack with a fitness regimen,” John says. “Starting out too hard or too fast, they’re usually far too sore after that first or second workout and then they’re much too discouraged to go through it again!”

Mike Schultz of Pennsylvania’s Highland Training (www.highlandtraining.net) agrees, and says the secret is in establishing a routine – a set calendar of time and place for exercise, with a routine that includes core strength (yoga, pilates, free weights) and some kind of cardiovascular exercise (cycling, running, stair climbing).

Include rest. A regular pattern of stress and rest builds strength, Mike explains. As a general rule, two or three weeks of rigorous training should be followed by a week of recovery. The recovery period should not be total rest, but exercise at about 50 percent effort.

Record your progress. Fitness doesn’t happen overnight, the trainers agree. It happens over weeks or months and is best experienced by tracking it over time – which helps keep you motivated. Mike recommends tracking weight, body fat and hours of training, at a minimum. He says it can also help to track mental attitude, to help time your recovery period. If you find you’re hitting a wall in the middle of your third week, that may be the best time to take your recovery period.

Be patient. If a pound a week seems too slow, remember that if you start New Year’s week and lose at the pound-a-week rate, you’ll have shed more than 20 pounds by the Memorial Day races. If you’re an outdoor athlete, you likely don’t even need to lose that much.