The holidays are over. You partied hearty and now all of those delicious meals, desserts, and drinks have taken up residence on your hips, thighs, and belly. So you spent 3 weeks indulging your inner cookie monster….it’s ok. There’s a reason the rest of the world is resolving to start anew, drop those extra pounds and start exercising, so join them.

The New Year represents an opportunity to hit the reset button. Start with a clean slate. If you are like most people, and since you are reading this article it is safe to say that you are, you are determined to lose weight, begin a new diet program, start working out, swear off of sweets and alcohol, and eat more home cooked meals. Noble and necessary pursuits, one and all. Unfortunately for most people, this blind determination sits on the doorstep of your downfall. Too many changes. Too many commitments. Too many “DON’T’S.”

If you really want to guarantee your success, take baby steps…crawl before you walk (or enter the NYC marathon). Have you ever seen an 18 foot ladder with only a top and bottom rung? Of course not. That’s because you have to take one step at a time. It’s the same with getting in shape. Set one small goal at a time. Let yourself experience success and then build upon it.

DO THE DO’s – Focus on one thing you know you can change this week. Perhaps you can prepare a healthy salad chock full of protein and veggies to eat for lunch each day. Complete that task for a solid week and then add another “DO.” Maybe you will now commit to drinking 8 glasses of water per day and walking briskly after dinner. Wait…what just happened? You’re starting to feel better and you are excited about challenging yourself further. Congratulations…reach for the next rung on that ladder.

Your ability to improve your physical condition lies within your ability to make behavioral changes. Anyone can lift a weight and put it down. Challenging your patterns of behavior is the difficult part. This is where the rule of divide and conquer shows its power. “No thank you, I don’t want dessert tonight.”
“I’d like the chicken. Can that be grilled and can I get the dressing for the salad on the side please?”
“Hey guys, let’s go for a walk tonight instead of watching T.V.” Be your own leader. Look to achieve goals that improve your quality of life. Forget the guy or gal on the front of the magazine. That body is three ladders and a professional photo-shop team away. THAT IS NOT THE GOAL! What is the goal? I just told you silly… Prepare a healthy salad chock full of protein and veggies to eat for lunch each day. And so on, and so on…..

Like any worthwhile endeavor, you must start with a solid foundation. Add a layer of bricks (healthy habits), spread some mortar (the positive reinforcement of succeeding), add another layer of bricks. Success breeds confidence. Confidence breeds success. Reward each success, no matter how small. DO NOT REWARD YOURSELF WITH FOOD! Try this – Every time you make a good food choice or perform a day of exercise, put $1 in a jar. At the end of the month, treat yourself to a reward. Perhaps an article of clothing one size smaller than you wore 30 days ago. Look, it’s your body, your relationship with yourself, your self-esteem, your life. Have enough faith and self-respect to hold yourself accountable. I believe in you. I really do. You are more powerful than you know. Take the first challenge and own it for a week. If you need help, call me.

This article was written by Michael Shaw, Founder and President of New York Personal Training.