Guest Column – Set goals to reach a healthy weight

Lauren Williams, Army Wellness Center director

By Lauren Williams
Director, Army Wellness Center

The start of a new year is the traditional time that people resolve to achieve health and fitness goals.

Studies show that only about 5 percent of Americans write their goals on paper. Of that 5 percent, 96 percent complete their goals. Setting goals is crucial for success.

Losing weight is a common goal for many people, but it must be done properly. If a person is looking to lose weight, healthy weight loss is between 1 and 2 pounds per week and up to 4 to 8 pounds per month. This is a reasonable goal to set for weight loss.

If we want to get in shape, we need to think about injury prevention. A lot of people start out doing too much too quickly and end up burned out. The American College of Sport Medicine recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise.

That breaks down into five sessions of 30 minutes.

For people new to exercise, it is OK to scale that down even further to 15- or 20-minute sessions. Each week, they should increase by five minutes a session until reaching their desired duration.

Despite these guidelines, a lot of people set unrealistic expectations and end up dropping out of a program because it is too challenging. It is important to set realistic goals they know they can achieve in the time frame they are given.

To be successful, it is best to have a plan.

Place exercise in your schedule. Write down when you’re going to go to the gym. That way, that time is reserved just like it would be if you were going to a meeting.

Plan ahead. It’s OK to go out to eat or have a drink or two, but people often cancel out all their hard work by overindulging on the weekend.

If you plan ahead — whether it is picking out a healthy meal, looking up the calories and nutrition facts for the restaurant you’re going to, or making sure you only have a cheat meal instead of a cheat day — there are many techniques to avoid overindulging in unhealthy options.

Start small. Many people are all or none. It is OK to start small. Small changes stack up over time and ultimately lead us to our goal.

If you are ready to begin an exercise program, keep in mind we learned to crawl before we walked and walk before we run. This idea is the same. Any deviation from a normal routine will create change because it is a new stimulus to the system and our body isn’t used to it.

Maybe the beginning of your fitness journey is focusing on taking 10,000 steps per day and add exercise later. Same goes for nutrition. Choose one thing at a time that you can take out of your diet and replace with something healthier.

Don’t get rid of your favorite things; that usually leads to failure. Instead, evaluate what you are willing to change and work toward those tougher changes later.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy body is central to the Army’s Ready and Resilient campaign. Being physically fit can enhance a person’s ability to overcome physical, mental and emotional obstacles and bounce back after adversity.

At the Army Wellness Center, we provide a comprehensive approach to evaluating and educating the community on health and wellness. Our staff are experts in nutrition education, physical fitness, stress management, healthy sleep habits, tobacco education and wellness coaching.

We offer a wide variety of testing that helps establish a baseline and a metric for you to follow progress. We also have health coaching to help develop a plan on how to tackle your goals.

The Army Wellness Center, located at 4418 Llewellyn Ave., is open to service members, retirees and their families, and DoD civilian employees. Hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information or to make an appointment with the Wellness Center, call 301-677-2006.

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