With the new year, and new decade, around the corner, it's that time of year when people start to make resolutions -- things they want to do in 2010, or change, or be better yet. It's a time of hope in a way. And in some ways it's a time of desperation -- something by which the diet industry is often fueled.
But what if we do want to lose weight, get fit and get healthy in 2010?
If you can avoid the bombardment of television ads and shift through the product placement, there are some really good tips available. (See, for instance, the suggestions from Dr. Mehmet Oz in an article in the New York Times.)
But along with every day changes you can make to be healthier in general, if fitness is one of your broad goals for the upcoming year, there is something really powerful about taking part in a big event.
Whether you're singing up for a marathon or Ironman, entering your first 5K or sprint triathlon or gearing up for a charity walk, there is something inherently motivating about registering for an event. Sure you can go sign up for spinning classes or the latest cardio-ab class at the gym. And those are great way to improve your fitness, meet new people, challenge yourself and have fun. But for many people, there needs to be a bigger end goal. It's not about winning a race, but about being part of something bigger, something you maybe thought you couldn't do. It's something that can keep you honest. Something to make you actually go to those spin and cardio-ab classes you registered for in the first place.
And if you're just starting out, don't let the terms "marathon" or "Ironman" frighten you away.
Because there is nothing wrong with training for your first event regardless of what it is. Years ago when I wanted to take some control over my health and fitness I secretly "trained" for a 3-mile charity walk. Creating my own type of training play I went to the gym (or got outside) several times a week for power walking. I added in some weight training for variety and did some yoga to round out my "program." There are plenty of charity events -- from walks to bike rides to swims -- which can serve as a focal point for your fitness goals.
If you're ready to start running, the Couch-to-5K program by Cool Running takes two months to get you to your first 5K with three runs a week. (And it's free.) There are programs available from runnersworld.com that range from training for a Boston Marathon qualifying time to a beginner 5K. (Prices for the interactive program run from $20 to $40). You can google running and triathlon training plans and find tons of options online, some free, some affordable, some pricey. But all of the give you a good place to start.
You can also check out local running and triathlon clubs and Western New York is filled with them. For triathlon, there is the Buffalo Triathlon Club, which in the spring begins group workouts, including the ever-important open water swims. Running clubs are plentiful in the area and while Checkers is probably the best known of them all, there are at least five others with regular workouts and gatherings. The links page on buffalorunners.com offers a pretty complete listing of running clubs in the area.
As you explore what it is you want to tackle, find your race, your training plan and your support crew it's time to take the next step -- telling people. You don't have to tell them that you're going to run your first 5K in 20 minutes or qualify for Boston in your first marathon. You don't have to tell people who will be negative or question you or bring you down. But tell some people close to you, ones who would support you if you said you were going to run naked down the street during the Blue Moon on New Year's Eve. They will not only give you encouragement, but will give you a sense of making it real. That first race isn't just a wish -- it's a resolution that will happen if no other reason than the fact that you want it to happen.
What will you tackle in 2010?