Friday, January 4, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Most people resolve to lose weight and often fail to meet that expectation. I think I've resolved to lose weight one or two years in the past. I actually did succeed, but then again, I was a student then and had time to exercise like a madman. But that wasn't the entire reason to my success. An important factor in how I lost weight was a commitment to change my lifestyle. It wasn't just about a diet (which for the purpose of this post implies a temporary change in eating habits) or exercising more. At the time, I'm pretty sure I would have really pissed off my graduate advisor if I was spending more time away from my research exercising. I committed to making reasonable lifestyle changes that I knew I could probably maintain and readily incorporate into my life. Back then, those changes were drinking more water, being more consistent about getting cardio into my workouts, and cutting back on the fried food. Cutting back (notice, I didn't say "eliminate") on the fried food was a little rough, but it paid dividends.

You all (ok, probably just the two people reading my blog) have heard the New Year's resolutions tips that have been popping up lately: 1. Make specific, achievable resolutions, 2. have a plan of action for reaching your goals, and 3. Have only one or two resolutions. I'm sure there's plenty more tips floating around the media, but those are the ones I'm focusing on. It seems pretty obvious, yet so hard to achieve. I've put those principles into action in the past before, and I plan on doing it again this year. I have only one minor exception this year in that I have multiple goals. I'll limit myself to two resolutions this year, but I'll have several goals and ongoing targets which I would have pursued anyway regardless of this New Year's resolution tradition. So, 2008, here's what I have in store for you.

  1. Drop 1% body fat. When I went to the health fair at UPenn, they used one of those infrared fat analyzers that they stick on your arms to measure reflectance off of muscle vs fat tissue. I registered 11.5%. Not too shabby by most standards, but I'm not satisfied. I yearn for the days when I was still sub 10%. My plan of action:
    • Be more diligent about drinking sufficient water (control appetite, keep system clean).
    • Get enough sleep. This is a little tougher since I have stuff to do.
    • Try to spread my meals out over the course of the day better. Again, this a little tough since I'm now in the working world, but it's something I should be doing anyway to keep my energy levels and metabolism optimal.
    • Cut out the boxed cereal (too much refined carbs, and too tempting to eat as empty calories). In truth, I've already achieved this a few months ago.
    • Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Or, as mom would say: 吃清淡一點.
    • Finally, ramp up the cardio. This ties right into my second resolution.

  2. Jump Rope for 10 continuous minutes. Over the past year, I've become addicted to jump rope. Skipping rope is great exercise. It trains agility, improves hand-eye coordination, is quite cardiovascularly challenging, can incorporate numerous variations and tricks, is usually relatively low impact, is ultra portable, and takes far less time than the cardio machines in the gym. My current best is 6.5 minutes from early December 2007. I'm pretty sure I'll easily get beyond 10 minutes this year. In the meantime, I'll be steadily improving my endurance and learning new steps/tricks with the rope.
So those are my resolutions. I think they are quite achievable. I'll detail my other goals for the year in another post.

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