Health and fitness expert Samir Becic has a New Year’s resolution for the entire city of Houston.
“I want to make Houston one of the fittest cities in America,” he said. “I can’t tell you how motivated I am to make our great city the healthiest.”
As with any resolution, a list of excuses can pop up. For example, Houstonians often complain about the climate or the lack of opportunities for fitness, Becic said. Unlike colder places, however, Houston is an ideal place for an active life, he said, with parks that make it easy to get outdoors.
Becic was recently named Houston’s “health czar” by Mayor Sylvester Turner. Before founding Health Fitness Revolution and ReSYNC Fitness, he served as fitness director for Bally Total Fitness.
He has observed firsthand the wave of individuals signing up for gym memberships in January and February, ready to tackle their New Year’s resolutions. “Then that excitement goes down, and suddenly they disappear,” Becic said. “By April, they stop coming completely.”
His goal is to make fitness a year-round lifestyle of Houstonians.
Sticking with resolutions can be an ideal way to focus on self-care, said Ashley Garza, who founded,with Heather Hazen, Cormentum Health and Wellness in west Houston. As health and lifestyle coaches, Garza and Hazen recognize that committing to change is both mental and physical.
“Everybody should take time to invest in themselves,” Garza said. “We all need to recharge.”
Health experts in Houston have a number of tips for making resolutions stick:
- Start slow. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Becic said. “It’s step-by-step.” Keep in mind that better health is a process, he added. That means setting small, realistic goals, like losing 6 pounds in a month instead of 30 pounds. Becic also recommends starting with shorter work-outs in the gym, and adding five minutes at a time. Starting slow and being steady can help reduce injuries and exhaustion, he said.
The same is true of diet. Instead of eliminating everything all at once, make minor changes and work toward being healthier. Jill Sechi, owner of Wellness Coaching and Nutrition Therapy, has similar advice. “A lot of resolutions are very broad and overwhelming,” she said. “You’ve got to make sure your goals are realistic and small.”
- Celebrate small successes. Feelings of anxiety and depression surrounding weight loss often prevent people from working out, Becic said. Positive reinforcement for even small wins can help. Realistic goals make celebrating small successes easier, he said. For example, be excited about losing 10 pounds instead of beating yourself up for not losing 40. “When you achieve something, you feel better about yourself,” Becic said.
- Develop patience – and flexibility. Reaching your goals takes time. Becic recommends being prepared to wait longer to see lasting results. Expect six to eight weeks to make up for a year of an inactive lifestyle, he said.
Garza added that sometimes success means being able to handle change. “Find ways to cope,” she said. If a goal isn’t perfect, modify it and continue on a path to better health. Sechi said that setting manageable goals can be difficult. Instead, she recommends spending time reflecting on values. “Values are not something you can accomplish,” she said. Instead, look at ways to continually work toward the values that define you.
- Find a partner. A number of individuals want to be healthier in the New Year. “So you have plenty of partners to choose from,” Becic said. “Have a friend, and you can each motivate each other to stick with it.” Hazen and Garza serve as each other’s accountability partners at Cormentum Health. “You’re not in it alone,” Garza said.
- Narrow your focus. Be specific about your resolutions, Garza said. “Once you gain momentum, you can go on to another,” she said. Having too many goals can dilute your ability to conquer any, Becic said. “Often people pick multiple goals at once,” he said. “Why stress yourself out? Pick one goal at a time.” Be specific about what you want and hone in on that, he said.
- Write it down. CCmmitting to a resolution with pencil and paper makes for a stronger commitment in general, Hazen said. “Written goals are important,” she said. Not only does it serve as a reminder, but it also becomes an affirmation. “It helps you think, I can do this,” she said.
- Learn to love yourself. Hating what you see in the mirror is never helpful, Becic said, even if that’s why you want to change. He recommends saying, “I will change my body, but I will love myself in each phase.”
- Make time to rest. The body requires rest to become healthier, Becic said. Getting the proper amount of rest is essential. “You need sleep,” Becic said. He recommends getting seven to eight hours each night.
- Hydrate. It’s not simply the amount of water that matters. It’s also how and when you drink it, Becic said. He recommends getting about a gallon a day. “Every time you feel hungry, drink one big glass of water, and wait 10 to 15 minutes,” he said. “Most times, you’re not hungry. You’re just thirsty, and your brain cannot tell the difference.” He also suggests not drinking too much during a meal to promote healthy digestion and to reduce bloating.
- Think about your triggers. Since behavioral change has a mental and emotional component, Hazen recommends exploring the root causes of behaviors. “What makes a person smoke when they’re trying to quit? What makes you go to the pantry and grab a Twinkie?” she asks. Thinking about triggers can make individuals better prepared to address and avoid them.
- Eliminate stress. Stress can prevent rest and self-love – and even stop individuals from going to the gym or eating properly. “Find the reason why you’re stressed,” Becic said. “Start meditating, and getting in tune with yourself.” He says to spend time to find what’s causing stress and how to destress. Then, take that calmer path.
- Make it fun. Becoming healthier doesn’t have to be a bootcamp – even if that’s your preferred fitness program. Hazen said that making small changes and seeing success can be rewarding. “Change doesn’t have to be painful,” she said. “It can actually be exciting.”