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110_homespun.jpgBy Leslie Garcia

RISMEDIA, January 10, 2009-(MCT)-Time to rid the house of corn chips and good intentions and start fresh on a brand spankin’ new year. Let’s go over the resolution list again, shall we?

No muffins. No pizza. No ice cream. No beer. No chocolate. No nitrates. No head cheese. No white rice. No T-bones.

Exercise an hour a day. Lift weights constantly. Follow Atkins. Follow South Beach. Follow the Beyonce diet.

Lose 100 pounds. Lose 50 pounds. Lose your mind if you try to follow all these.

“People set themselves up for failure, because they try to do too much initially,” says Regina Coreil, group fitness coordinator for the Texas Club in Dallas. “It becomes, ‘I have to do something that hurts me. I’m sore when I’m done. I’m putting myself on a diet I don’t enjoy.’ All these negatives instead of, ‘What can I do that’s moderate and I’m acclimating my body to?'” Ah, thank you, Regina, for bringing up one of our favorite fitness words:


Thus said, we asked Coreil and Ginger Schirmer, a Dallas-based health and exercise expert, for help keeping our resolutions. Not to last merely through the new year, but for our lifetimes as well.

“I like to give people a couple of things to modify and go from there,” says Schirmer, whose credentials include a masters degree in exercise physiology.
“When you give them a whole list, it’s overwhelming and very defeating. But give them something very easy to do, they become their own modifier and change their own lifestyle.”

How? By using the word itself to spur us on. Ready? O-K! Gimme an M …

M. Make realistic promises. If a client says he wants to lose 100 pounds, Regina asks, “What do you want to do in the next 90 days?”

“You don’t have to give us 110 percent in January,” she says. “Give us two to three days of your time, 30 minutes to an hour each time, and gently move into it.”

O. Opt for fiber. Ginger, a registered dietitian, encourages that dietary addition early on. Fiber fills you up as well as-well, you know. That fiber thing. Start with five extra grams per day per week, which you can do with half a bowl of Kashi or All-Bran cereal. Gradually add more.

D. Ditch a soda a day. Says Ginger: “If you do that and change nothing else, you’ll lose 15 pounds a year.”

Then she might ask clients, “Could you eat a small piece of fruit instead of drinking juice?” That makes for less sugar, more fiber.

“They start feeling better and think, ‘Well, I can cut this, change that.'”

E. Eat well; perfectly isn’t necessary. “I want to know what clients like and what they eat right now,” Regina says. “If I make recommendations on what they hate, it won’t work.

“If they say a hamburger, I’ll say make sure it’s grilled, that you use a whole-wheat bun and don’t put all the greasy stuff on. Have a baked potato, a small one, instead of french fries.”

R. Remember who you’re doing this for. Not the person who gave you the gift certificate, or the one who groans whenever you eat penuche. Only if you’re doing it for yourself will you stick with it. Make it a habit; it’ll take about 30 days to do so.

A. Add the good stuff a little at a time. Start with a 10-minute walk around the block or on the treadmill.

“When you do it in moderation, it’s not as painful, because you become acclimated to it,” Regina says. “Instead, it becomes, ‘I’m not so sore this week; my stamina’s better. I have more energy and feel better when I exercise. More positive things are happening; I’m looking forward to it.'”

T. Take the time. You didn’t get out of shape overnight; you won’t get into shape overnight.

“I’d rather somebody lose more slowly and make permanent changes than lose radically and have it not be permanent,” Ginger says.

Adds Regina: “Slowly build up.” After a month of going to the gym twice or three times a week, she might ask a client, “Can you give me one more day?”

I. Incentives help. It’s OK, Regina says, to tell yourself, “Well, I had a good diet week so I’ll reward myself with cheesecake.”

The catch? A small piece, eaten slowly and savored.

O. Overcome the odds. Truth to tell, throughout the years, only about 20% of the population has been in shape, Regina says. Success stories aren’t the norm.

Well, so what, right? You can do it. Bit by bit. If you hop off the wagon today, walk briskly alongside it and hop back on tomorrow.

N. Nice and slow, livable and attainable. That’s Ginger’s mantra. We’re betting you can make it yours as well.

© 2009, The Dallas Morning News.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.