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Dedication - not magic - is key to New Year's resolution to lose weight in 2011

Last semester's aerobics class shed pounds and added flexibility by sticking with the program.

Sun Advocate reporter

If you want to lose weight, exercise is one of the most important things you can do. These girls, from my aerobics class at USU Eastern, tallied up amazing results. After 15 weeks of fun, exercising with their friends to music and motivation from their instructor, 71 pounds were lost, 20 inches lost off their waists, and 15.5 inches of flexibility was gained. And the best part about it, they were the ones who were amazed. All had comments that they knew they felt different, but didn't realize how great it was until the numbers came back in.

Wanting to get involved in an exercise program is an easy one, but staying with it is the hardest part. Ordering that new exercise apparatus or exciting video of promising results does not magically melt off the inches and pounds the minute it is delivered to your door. When you do receive them, use them. They don't work in the closet either.

Every one makes New Year's resolutions, and the list can get long and complicated, so begin the list with reachable goals. Take one step at a time. Do you have a dog that has gained a few pounds lately? Maybe it is because it has been either too hot or cold outside to walk him, or too much rain or snow, or too busy today. Maybe this could be your first step.

Even if you don't have a chubby dog, the first step is still making a commitment, but the commitment must be realistic. When you are starting out, first sit down with your doctor or trainer and determine a plan of action. You need to be healthy enough to take on a fitness regime. Get them to do an assessment of any health concerns that could be aggravated by exercise or any health issues that could be addressed by exercise.

Second, find an activity you enjoy, and avoid taking on too many activities because this will cause injuries and undermine your goals. What form of exercise or activity interests you? It is easier to stick to a program if you find it energizing, relaxing or social.

Third, remain focused but if you happen to slip and miss a day or two, don't let it knock you off track. Get back up, resolve the resolve and don't look back.

Fourth, make dietary changes. Cut down on your fat intake and replace it with more healthy choices of fruit, vegetables, fiber and lean protein. Also by watching portion size of your meals, you will become a healthier you and it will make it easier for the pounds to melt away.

Fifth, track your progress. In the beginning take measurements, record your weight , and document other concerns, then set aside. Re-evaluate every couple of weeks or longer. Give your body a chance to adjust. Changes are not usually instantaneous.

Beginning the new year with a goal and a smile. Smiling burns calories too.

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