I believe that more than “I will lose weight this year" or “I will get into shape in the new year" (most popular resolution—year after year), what we need is to forge new bonds with ourselves. Most of the time people I work with have spent little time with themselves and are more than happy to declare themselves “lazy" or “lacking willpower". One look at their lives and you will know that most working people are hardly lazy or lacking in willpower—they work weekends, have the willpower to make it to office even after an all-night party session or despite jet lag.

Holistic ways: Just hitting the gym won’t ensure health.

The reality, however, is that most of us have little training to distinguish “being tired" from “being lazy". Also, most of us are so misinformed about working out that we fail to understand that it is not really quite as simple to “just go for a walk" or “just join a gym", as the free advice we get seems to indicate. Exercise is a huge science that involves a thorough understanding of physiology, bio-mechanics and ergonomics. So if your resolution revolves around “taking daily walks" or “signing up for cheap membership at a gym", you are already doomed.

Moreover, dieting does not mean avoiding calories, cutting down on rice, sweets, fried or some other random dos and don’ts. It involves a deeper understanding of how food is grown, the molecular interaction of food with your enzymes, your ability to assimilate nutrients, throw out waste products, etc.

We all understand enough about life to know that any decision based on half-baked knowledge or misinformation is bound to fail; no wonder then that most New Year resolutions are nothing short of disasters. To make the most of your resolution you first need to understand that you may need more education about food and exercise, and that you may need to invest both time and money to gain that.

Is the investment worth it? Totally! Other than good looks, fitness improves your ability to live life to its fullest. I mean, just think about it, you spend a night making a presentation and your neck doesn’t hurt, you don’t get bags under your eyes and don’t need coffee to wake up. These things do make us feel good, right? Super good!

So here are some ways of making the most of your fitness resolutions in 2011:

1. To begin with, start small. Just like the way you start small when you decide to invest in a systematic investment plan (SIP). So instead of making a resolution for an entire year, do it a quarter at a time. So starting now to 31 March becomes your Fitness Quarter 1 (FQ1).

2. Now take a look at your work and family life and identify “challenges" at the beginning of the year—travel to Romania to pitch business, a cousin’s wedding, etc., all qualify—but write it down or mark that in your FQ1.

3. Identify seven days every month when you can exercise and mark them along with date and timings in your FQ1.

4. Now sign up for a fitness assessment test (different from the annual blood test that’s sold to you as employee benefit). Any good gym will offer this. It will take about 30 minutes and upwards of Rs1,000, depending on the profile of the trainer/gym.

5. The assessment will help you figure out if you are short on strength, stamina, flexibility or are carrying too much fat for your body weight. So choose your exercise depending on what your area of improvement is, not randomly.

6. For all of these seven days ensure that you eat an hour before exercise and have access to a complete meal—carb + protein + fat—immediately after exercise. Banana with whey protein is a good post-workout meal, easy to carry and easy to consume.

7. Keep at least two meals in office that you can readily eat on your exercise days. For example, fruit, peanuts, cheese, milk, etc. Yes, you should care more about eating right on days you exercise for the exact same reason that you care about petrol for your car on the days you drive.

8. On most days of FQ1, keep a gap of 2-3 hours between dinner and bedtime. Mark all your dinners or social commitments on your FQ1 and spare yourself the guilt trip or the “lack willpower" argument.

9. At all times know that without planning you will fail—what seems like a task at first is often only a way of easing things later in life.

All the best.

This is the last in a four-part series by nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar. Her new book Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha (Westland, Rs200) is on the stands.

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