Give up New Year resolutions and just take up running

Wed, Jan 2, 2013, 00:00

Getting fit and healthy is a life-long commitment, not an optional resolution to pick up and drop, writes RUTH FIELD

So it’s New Year 2013 and I want to make a resolution to get fit and lose weight. But I have been making this same resolution every year and I never seem to be able to stick with anything and always end the year the same as started it, if anything a little bit fatter. How can I make 2013 different? MA

Firstly, I applaud your honesty. It takes courage to admit that you have failed – repeatedly – to stick to your resolution. And if it makes you feel any better, you are not alone. Most of us fail at keeping our resolutions which is one of the reasons I never make any.

Resolution-free year

And, because the only thing worse than January itself – in all its dark, skint, miserable brutality – is the idea that I might have to deprive myself of one of the few things that help make it bearable: chocolate, alcohol, all that leftover ham and pickles and cheese, box-sets, duvet days . . . the list is endless. So let’s begin by making 2013 a resolution-free year.

Now however, for some gritty home truths. Getting fit and losing weight is vital to your health and wellbeing so is no longer to be seen as an optional resolution to be picked up and dropped when the going gets tough, but as a compulsory life-long commitment that you adopt forever.

The only way to really get fit and lose weight is firstly to take on board that a shift in attitude is fundamental to your success. Secondly, to accept that dealing with the fitness aspect first is the better approach, because fitness brings with it a whole host of tangential benefits that make a healthier approach to eating easier to adopt.

This ought to come as a huge relief. And yes, by all means tuck into that mince pie with a nice cup of tea before reading on.

I want something different for you, something simple, free, time-savvy and incredibly effective at both battling the bulge and getting you fit as a fiddle. Something you can begin now exactly as you are which doesn’t involve you buying anything new or changing anything about yourself.

No more faddy diets, crazy body detoxes, or complicated exercise regimes and all the fannying about that surrounds them.

No more empty promises and wasted gym memberships and shoddy excuse making. No more relying on other people for help. All you need is the courage to do as I suggest and trust that by spring you will never look back: Get up off the sofa and go outdoors. Wrap up warmly and comfortably enough for a good one to one-and-a-half hour brisk walk from your front door and back home again.

Keep moving

Go anywhere, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you don’t stop moving and that you are moving for one to one-and-a-half hours (three-four miles roughly). When you get home I guarantee you will feel a million times better just from all that fresh air and increased heart rate brought about by the exercise.

Remember that feeling when you are struggling to unwinch yourself from the sofa tomorrow and use it to motivate you back outside.

Repeat as many times as you can each week until you are able to start jogging for just five minutes of the circuit; increase that five minutes by small increments each week until you are jogging the whole way round (roughly 40-45 minutes).

It can be done. And it will be done, one step at a time. By spring you will have it nailed and if you stick with it, come this time next year you will have the body you want, be slim, fit and healthy and will be able to tuck into all that Christmas food without a trace of guilt and still look fabulous at your office party. And at the office party a decade from now.

Because regular running ensures that you keep in touch with your body, its changing shape and size, its habits, its needs and its wants and you will look after it so much better.

And it will love you much more in return and give you all of the things you so desperately need: not just fitness and weight loss, but a stronger heart, better muscle power, brighter skin, confidence, more energy to put into the rest of your life and a happier outlook. And so much more.

Permanent attitude

The key is to stop thinking about achieving anything for your body or fitness in terms of a short-term solution or a goal with an end point. Shifting your attitude permanently is the only successful way forward. What may start off feeling like a sacrifice of sorts (suck it up as penance for all that Christmas overindulgence) becomes something else once you are into the swing of running regularly. It becomes something so wonderful that the idea of giving it up will feel every bit as crazy as the idea of taking it up probably does right now. But what have you got to lose?

The Grit Doctor says: Give up resolutions. Take up running and watch how you grow into a woman resolute as steel.

Tweet your running queries to Ruth at: @gritdoctor

Ruth Field is author of Run, Fat Bitch, Run