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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Column: To resolve or not?

Yep, it’s that time of year, when motivated new souls enter the realm of the gymnasiums far and wide to work on those New Year’s resolutions. Whether your goal is modest (lose the holiday weight) or more gallant (train for a marathon), larger gym crowds are a sure thing. But it’s only the second week of January, a time when people are still excited and motivated about their goals. And the reality is that as the first round of midterms hit, students will put their resolutions aside to focus on the more demanding aspect of their busy lives.

What does it take to be one of the few who actually turn their resolutions into lifestyle changes?

Execute creatively

Oftentimes the problems lie not in the resolution itself but in the approach we take. My friend keeps telling me, “I want to lose 10 pounds.” Jumping on the elliptical for 45 minutes a day might seem effective the first week and actually produce the results you want to see. However, constantly using the elliptical can get boring easily. Unless you are going to the gym to “people-watch,” sticking to a stationary machine like the elliptical will probably be short-lived.

The solution to workout boredom is to think about non-conventional ways of losing weight. Try a martial arts class, Zumba, racquetball (493 calories an hour for a 155 lb. player!) Trying something that requires learning a new skill and also burns calories effectively will push you to keep coming back.

Make a schedule and buddy up

There is no immediate consequence (besides perhaps a guilty conscience) for not going to the gym. Even though there is no consequence, scheduling workouts into the day like classes or internships (which require attendance) makes going to the gym more official. Write down in your planner, calendar, phone or whatever organizational device you have, the exact days and times you will work out. While missing a workout will not get you into trouble with your supervisor, you can create a similar situation to keep you on top of your game. Plan on going to the gym with a friend. It is easy to get over the guilt of breaking a date with yourself but not with your workout partner!

Rain or shine

Granted there are going to be days when we just plain don’t feel like getting out of bed. The reason for this is that in the winter season, our bodies slow down and conserve energy. Winter can be a challenging time to pursue our goals.

“We naturally have less energy to burn in the winter,” writes acupuncturist Laurel Kallenbach. She describes the Taoist philosophy of universal balance between yin (cool, slow, wet, feminine, nurturing) and yang (warm, fast, dry, masculine, energizing). The winter season is a part of the earth’s yin cycle that promotes conserving energy in the way that farmers store food for the colder months.

To stay balanced in the colder months we need nourishment in the form of slow-cooked beans, vegetables, soups and spices such as ginger, garlic, cloves, black pepper and basil. We also need to build our energy reserve through activities such as tai chi, restorative yoga and walking.

There is no rule that says “rain or shine” you must be present and you must give 100 percent. (Okay, competitive sports aside). Most of us have phases of sickness, laziness and general apathy. This is the most important phase because after the “sick spell” or the “lazy spell,” we find it tough to come back to normal. Whatever curveballs life throws at you, recognize that it is just a phase and not the end of the world. Being sick or taking time for yourself is not reason enough to feel guilty for not going to the gym; allowing that guilt to overwhelm your goals would cause more damage than good.

To resolve or not?

Resolution-making can be futile. It’s so easy to become caught up in the process of setting resolutions, ranking their importance and comparing them to other people’s that we lose track of our goals. UC Davis senior exercise biology major Samira Mahyari prefers not to make any resolutions.

“It’s kind of like making a promise and not keeping it. If you want to do something, then do it. It’s better not to make one if you are not going to keep it,” Mahyari said.

To make a resolution is a personal choice and requires a certain amount of responsibility for effectiveness. Just know that there are ways to make it stick this year.

If you have a particularly interesting way of sticking to your resolutions, e-mail MEGHA BHATT at mybhatt@ucdavis.edu.

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