Chauncey Keith, certified athletic trainer for Phoebe Physical Medicine, works with Cyndi Ballenger at Phoebe Northwest earlier this week. A number of trainers and dietitians see an increased number of people wanting to lose weight this time of year to shed holiday pounds (Submitted photo)
ALBANY — With some people having a tendency to overeat during the holiday season, it is not surprising that many people incorporate losing weight into their New Year’s resolutions.
The consequence is often a spike in gym facility attendance and an increase in dieting.
Alex Woodham, a trainer at the PT Gym on Dawson Road, while unable to give specific figures regarding how much of an increase they typically have, said activity at the gym does increase with more people joining and exercising.
“It’s a trend we see every year,” he said. “We see a growth in membership, usually the week after New Year’s. The New Year’s resolutioners stay strong for a couple of weeks, and we see other folks that come in strong and make a difference.
“It’s a loss of determination, I guess.”
Tony’s Fitness Group on North Westover Boulevard reports about 10 new memberships coming in on any single day immediately following the holiday season.
“Usually this time of year there is a big increase,” said Steve Nix, assistant manager at Tony’s. “Every year, there is a big, big increase. We are signing people up left and right.”
Nix said he has seen many people resolving to lose weight after the new year starting off motivated and then stopping regular visits to the gym before March. Many times people either set goals too high or do not make a commitment to come to the gym, he said.
“Work out with someone and make yourself come to the gym,” he suggested. “If you work out for 45 minutes to an hour, you would be surprised what it could do.
“You have to have the willingness, perseverance and discipline to do it.”
Like Woodham, Nix has also seen his fair share of people stick with it. “I love to hear people say: ‘I lost 28 pounds in three months.’ We love to hear that, because it gives someone hope.”
Julie Joiner, a certified diabetes educator with the Phoebe Diabetes Care Center, said those she comes across seeking help to lose weight are first assessed. That likely is followed by suggesting they increase their intake of non-starchy vegetables and eliminate sugary drinks.
“The body doesn’t register liquid calories like it does from food,” Joiner said of the sugary drinks.
Crash or fad diets are not generally recommended without the right support network, Joiner said.
“A lot of them work short term, but the farther they are away from your regular eating habits the harder they are to maintain,” Joiner said. “It’s a lifestyle change, and it is very hard work. You need to develop a support network; it is easier than a person constantly bringing ice cream to the house.”
The general idea is take in more whole foods and less junk, and to not be tempted into diets that eliminate certain food groups. The goal Joiner recommends is one pound per week, which equates to a reduction of 500 calories a day and the potential to lose about 50 pounds in a year.
“It is a long commitment, but the adage of slow and steady wins the race holds true,” she said.
This time of year, she said, its not unusual to see people want to lose 30 pounds in 20 days.
“We see more folks motivated this time of year,” Joiner said. “Any day is a good day to (help control your weight). I see a lot of people with long term goals, but their motivation fizzles out; that is why a support network is so helpful.”
The diabetes educator’s recommendation is to establish a big goal with smaller goals at shorter intervals, and to use exercise as a way to help maintain the weight loss. The focus should be on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and diary products with only 10 percent of a person’s calories coming from junk foods.
“You can still have that junk food, but in smaller portions,” she said.
Chauncey Keith, certified athletic trainer for Phoebe Physical Medicine, said the key to starting from zero is beginning to develop a regimen slowly so that not too much is done too fast while developing a consistent routine as far as what workouts are being done how often.
“More than anything else, be consistent,” he said.
His recommendation is to do weights two times a week, focusing on larger muscles such as those in the legs and back, and to do cardiovascular workouts three times a week for at least 20 minutes at a time. At the same time, it is recommended to add some variety to the routine to guard against boredom.
“Also make sure to get your heart rate elevated,” he said. “Get to 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Take 220 and subtract that from your age and get within 60 to 80 percent of that.
“(To prevent injury) start slow and go through a type of warm up, stretch, cool down and do another stretch.”
Among those who give up after a few weeks into the new year are those who tend to do too much too soon, Keith said.
“They get sore or get injured,” he said. “They are so sore they can’t function, or they hurt themselves and can’t work out.”
In order to be among those who stay on a regimen past February, there have to be strong motivators in place — such the pair of jeans in the closet that has not fit in a few years.
“What it takes to have a lifestyle change is to make a lifestyle change by (establishing) a routine and (maintaining a good diet),” Keith said. “Have good, healthy choices and eat in moderation.
“For some New Year’s resolutioners to fizzle out is not uncommon; it’s natural. People have this puppy love at first, and everything is roaring and then it fades — and it takes work to keep it going. I’ve seen a few people come through here and drop a significant amount of weight, but it is (more about) taking care of yourself.”
Cindy Caldwell, a nurse practitioner with Phoebe Bariatric Center, said that obesity rates flattened a few years ago only to rise again — which reflects on more than just the nation’s overall state of health.
“Thirty-one percent of people are obese, or have a (body mass index) of 30 or more,” she said. “It is like walking around with a bag of potatoes.”
They key to helping reverse the trend, and the method those at the center use to help people lose weight, is to take a closer look on how a person has gotten obese and then assess how they can overcome certain obstacles to help get the weight off.
“I think everyone should have a goal, but not just for New Year’s, but all the time,” Caldwell said.
Monique Wilson, bariatric program representative for the center, has a similar frame of mind.
“It is about making a lifestyle change,” she said. “Don’t just make a New Year’s resolution.”
If the temptation to overeat is difficult to resist, than some advance planning might be in order.
“Be prepared,” Caldwell said. “If you know you Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up, plan ahead of time. Concentrate on protein, fruits and vegetables … If your environment is surrounded by healthy food, you are less likely to go through the drive-thru.”
As other experts have maintained, Wilson said working in an exercise routine is also a vital component.
“You need to plan out exercise,” she said. “You can break it up. You can push at least 30 minutes a day (by breaking it into smaller intervals throughout the day). Working around the house (can be included in that).”
This can even be done by using small weights or arm resistance bands while sitting on the couch. At the same time, it is also encouraged to set daily, weekly and monthly goals — and to not use food as rewards for meeting those goals.
“The important thing is to get it off and keep it off,” Caldwell said. ” … You have to make up your mind. You have to be ready.”