Shape shifter: Path to fitness paved with small victories

By STEVE REEVES, Fort Jackson LeaderJanuary 7, 2010

Shape shifter: Path to fitness paved with small victories
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Resolutions to eat better, exercise more and get in shape abound this time of the year.

The problem is that, for many people, making New Year's resolutions is often much easier than sticking to them.

"A lot of people will show up for an exercise class for a couple of weeks, then when the scale doesn't move, or it goes up, they get discouraged," said Pam Green, a certified fitness trainer for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Sports, Aquatics and Fitness. "They are so ready for change, but they want their change to be instant. Change does not happen instantly."

Green said January is when her yoga, Pilates and other fitness classes fill up with well-intentioned people who have resolved to burn away those holiday-induced pounds or tone now-flabby muscles.

But she said New Year's fitness resolutions often die as quickly because of the hard work that it takes to get into shape.

That's why Green said she stresses to gym newcomers that fitness is a journey, not a destination.

"I tell them, 'Don't put any pressure on yourself,'" she said. "Just showing up is a big deal. Focus on getting started and staying started. Enjoy the journey and stop searching for the destination."

Green said she encourages those looking to begin their fitness journey to focus on small victories at first: eating a salad for lunch, drinking more water, exercising several times a week.

"Once they accomplish that, then they can focus on the harder things," she said. "But if it's too hard in the beginning, they will quit altogether."

Jamie Boyle, a military spouse who started working out regularly last year, said she would advise fitness newbies to join a class or work out with a group of friends.

"If you don't show up, people will notice and ask where you were that day," Boyle said. "It's definitely helpful to work out with friends. It's peer pressure, but it's good peer pressure."