Turning over a new leaf.

Being a personal trainer I am all too familiar with New Year’s resolutions and setting goals, especially the goal of losing weight. The problem is never in setting goals—the problem is setting unrealistic goals. Now, unrealistic goals don’t mean you can’t set your goals high, but we have all heard of the term taking ‘baby steps’—and that’s taking small, if not tiny steps, towards any goal.

When a person climbs Mt. Everest they must take small steps—or else it can be very costly indeed—but they also have safety ropes in case they fall.  The ‘safety ropes’ for the rest of us setting our own goals would be both an emotional and practical one, that would allow you to trip up at certain times on that goal—so you can get right back onto that mountain and keep striving to reach the top.

For example, let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to come out of the closet. First, you may want to do a bit of research either online, through some literature or by contacting your nearest LGBT centres that can give you some helpful tips and advice on how to come out to your family members, friends, employer–or even for yourself! The importance of preparation, education and support in trying to accomplish your goals is the key to success. Because it gives you some insight on what you can possibly expect–like a mountain climber who learns all about the mountains before taking that journey to scale it. If you need advice on coming out, read this.

Setting any goals, especially weight loss goals (quickie weight loss schemes, fads, radical diets or pills simply do not last) can be tricky. Will they work? Possibly, for a very short period of time—but unless you reteach your body and mind to change negative behaviours—a poor eating, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy habits—you will most likely fall right back into it again

The solution to any weight loss and fitness goals is to start off slowly by beginning a simple walking or cardio routine, maybe just doing 15 minutes 3 times a week and working up to half an hour 6 days a week over about 6 weeks, and then incorporating one day of some weight training with light weights and work towards 2-3 days a week. After a short time, you can and should branch out and try brand new machines and activities, and bring a friend along—it helps in keeping you in the game. Do a little stretch like touching your toes and then reach high for the sky 2x for a 15 second hold time—before and after each routine to loosen up.

Also, hiring a personal trainer or asking for a gift certificate to your local gym is certainly one of the best gifts I could think of. And the goal should be no more than 1-2 pounds a week—and a calorie reduction of 200-500 less a day, switching primarily to healthy foods and drinks to keep you healthy and strong. Or sign up with a weight loss centre, dietician or nutritionist to help educate you properly so you can be sure to reach your goals. If money is tight, educate yourself through the web or at your local library. Remember to find activities you enjoy so you’ll stick with them and actually have fun being healthy! Here are some general health and fitness guidelines for you to work up to–not ‘start’ with.

Quitting smoking is yet another popular goal that you should never stop trying to achieve. It can indeed feel like the hardest one of them all, but the devastating effects of smoking can never be underestimated and are real. You can try going cold turkey or you can start by petering off a few cigarettes a day to help. If it’s particularly difficult see your physician or local clinic where you may be eligible for some free nicotine patches or other forms of anti-smoking treatments.

If your goal is to worry less and enjoy life more, try joining a hiking or nature conservatory group, sign up for Yoga, Tai Chi classes or learn to let go with meditation or spirituality classes. If you feel depressed during the holidays over a loss of some kind or any other reason, try to reach out to your closest friends and family members who are understanding and vent a little; it does wonders for the soul and puts things into a healthy, realistic perspective. You can always try some counselling which was very helpful to me at certain times in my life, for any reason. If money is an issue contact your nearest crisis or LGBT centres for free services. Any substance abuse issues should be addressed quickly, and one should never, ever give up hope. You can and will conquer anything with hard work, dedication, and time.

Always keep a positive attitude regardless of however many times you messed up. All changes begin with honesty, taking baby steps and allowing for some failures so you can get back on that horse as many times as you need to reach your goal—and you will!