The New Year Has Arrived. My Message to the Resolutioners
By: Brad Deel
The New Year has arrived and plenty of folks will be making resolutions to lose weight and get in shape. As someone who lost 80 pounds and went from wheezing at half a mile to running marathons, I have found there are really only two keys.
1. Be consistent. You will not get in shape doing some kind of aerobic activity one day a week or even two. If you are not out there 3-4 days a week, you might as well stay on the couch. If you stick with it for six months, and statistically you are likely to quit before then, then you need to increase your activity to 4-5 days a week. Nor will you lose weight by changing your eating patterns 2-3 days per week. It is very easy to undo a week of effort by sucking down 5,000 calories at Golden Corral or Golden Wok. This is a lifestyle change rather than a diet. I most emphatically do not diet. I eat anything I want. I just try not to cram a lot of it down my gullet. I think the nutritionists call it portion control.
2. Be persistent. I do not always do what I just said. Some weeks, I only run once. Some weeks, I fail to run a single step. Some weeks, I eat way, way too much. Rather than beating myself up and quitting my efforts though, I get back out there. Failure to run last week does not prohibit me from running this week. Stuffing myself silly at a family dinner last week does not preclude me from eating sensibly this week. It is the long term effort that counts. I did not get fat and out of shape overnight and I did not lose 80 pounds and get in shape overnight either. It took a long time.
If you are consistent and if you are persistent, running, or any regular aerobic exercise, has the power to change your life. Exercise is as effective as medicine at treating mild to moderate depression and it is a whole lot cheaper. Exercise improves your chances of living longer. Exercise will almost certainly make the years you have better even if your number of years are not increased. Exercise greatly reduces your likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Exercise reduces your chance of developing a whole host of different cancers and, in many cases, increases your likelihood of surviving if you do develop them. Here is my before and after perspective:
The first picture is from October, 2007. The second is from the 2013 Charleston Distance Run.
I am not unusual. Indeed, I am quite average. I was 45 when I started running and I am 51 now so I am no spring chicken. There are tens of thousands of people who lost more weight than me. There are plenty of them in this area and you can find them at any race. Whatever you do, do not give up. I would love to say it will be easy but that is false. It will not be easy. You will struggle at times and you will question whether you are doing any good. You are but only if you hang in there. If you stick with it for a year, you will erase all doubts. I promise. And if I am wrong about that, well then, make me run a penalty lap or two.