new years resolutions

Trick Yourself Into Getting Fit in 2013

January 9, 2013 at 11:38 am , by

‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions, which means all over the country people are renewing their vows to get fit and lose that weight. Are you working on your own health goal? We figured you might be.

It’s a sad truth that most women who resolve to get their butts in gear in January are back to their old habits by springtime. That’s why we asked Carla Birnberg, the personal trainer behind and a member of our brand new blogger network, to give us some novel tips for sticking with it.

Do less than you think you can do.
Yes, you read that right. Do less. It’s not helpful to push yourself as hard as you can when you’re first getting started, Birnberg says. That’s just going to lead to burnout. Instead, jog fewer miles at a slower pace than you think you can do, or better yet, start by simply going for an evening walk and build from there.

Play instead of work.
Instead of thinking about exercise as another chore, turn your workouts into a game. One of Birnberg’s favorite things is playing hopscotch with her daughter. The hopping around works your balance, core strength and it gets your heart pumping. It’s fun, calorie-torching perfection, she says. (That’s Birnberg above during one of her recent “playouts” with her daughter.)

Break your big goal into smaller goals.
So you want to lose 20 pounds? That takes a long-term commitment, which can easily wane when you don’t see any payoff right away. Instead, try breaking it down into a bunch of smaller goals. For example: “This week I’ll go for a jog three times,” or even, “Today, I will eat five servings of vegetables.” Not only does this way give you more chances to succeed and gain confidence, it also forces you to recommit to your big goal every day.

Want more? Follow @MizFitOnline on twitter and check out Birnberg’s brand new e-Book here.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail: Q&A with Daniel Akst

February 2, 2011 at 11:57 am , by

Now that the first month of 2011 has trudged to a chilly close, it’s a good time to review those New Year’s resolutions that so many of us made with utmost sincerity and determination a scant four weeks ago. How did they manage to evaporate so quickly? I recently sat down to discuss this problem with my old friend Daniel Akst, whose new book We Have Met the Enemy: Self Control in an Age of Excess (Penguin Press), examines what he calls “the democratization of temptation” and why we have so much trouble resisting it.

LG: In We Have Met the Enemy, you say that the extraordinary abundance we enjoy today comes with a price—the need to self-regulate, since society is no longer doing it for us. Why is self-control so hard these days?

DA: In truth, self-control has always been hard, because we’re torn between short-term rewards, which exert the most power, and the much more abstract—yet ultimately greater—long-term rewards we can achieve if we can manage to keep our impulses in check.

LG: Still, in your book you look back in history and argue that self-control is exponentially harder now and the stakes are higher.

DA: Yes, that’s true. And that’s because, while human nature hasn’t changed, the landscape of temptation has. Not that long ago, all you had to spend in a store was the money in your pocket, and the store was probably closed on Sundays. Today, giant emporia are open 24/7, and in addition to the money in your pocket you have several pieces of plastic that enable you to get thousands of dollars in instant credit from banks you’ve never even visited. Similarly, a hankering for fried chicken once meant catching and killing a live chicken and then plucking and cooking it. Now, all it takes is a trip to the nearest KFC. And there’s no shortage of those: The number of fast-food outlets per capita grew more than fivefold from 1970 to 2004. Or look at gambling. In 1970 casinos were legal only in Nevada, and New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York were the only states with lotteries. Today every state but Utah and Hawaii has legalized casinos or lotteries or both. And the Internet entices gamblers at all hours with offshore “virtual” casinos.

Then, to complicate matters, our views about indulgence have also changed. Once upon a time you were supposed to defer gratification until you were dead, when you would be rewarded in the afterlife. That started to seem too long a wait for most of us, and over time our attitudes toward consumption, borrowing and fulfillment shifted. Read more