Strengthen your resolve, body

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- With each new year, the story repeats itself. The new arrivals come in droves looking for a spot to throw their weight around. While there is likely one or two that will flex some muscle and make a lasting ripple, the more seasoned members suspect the majority will not last more than a few months.

Almost like clockwork, the newbies fall off as they succumb to the gravity of their heavy ambitions, and almost four months in just a few resilient newcomers remain and are being accepted into the fold.

For some, it was not their physical ability that pushed them through but their resolve that helped them outlast their fellow "resolutionists."

As the first days of 2016 have passed, the gyms at Ramstein Air Base have seen an increase in patrons chasing after their New Year's resolutions to get in better shape. However, if 2016 follows previous years' trends, many of the newcomers will have given up on their resolutions by April.

The 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Health Promotion program might have the answer for this question and also a solution to reverse the trend.

"The fundamental problem is that people expect instant results and get discouraged when they don't see the results as fast they would like," said Cesar Alvarez, 86th AMDS Health Promotion coordinator. "It is a process, and sometimes people plateau."

According to Alvarez, an abandonment of a physical resolution not only affects their physical domain but also has the potential to affect the mental, spiritual and social domains considered under RUFit.

Alvarez says a discouraged person may begin to see themselves as a failure, which can trickle into other aspects of their life such as creating self-doubt about their ability to get a new job, maintaining a relationship or any other number of social issues. 

"The main result I've seen from individuals not keeping a physical resolution is gaining more weight than they begin with," Alvarez said. "They might have even met their goal, but once they stop working out they add that weight back on plus an additional few pounds."

That's why, as part of the Health Promotion mission to encourage health and wellness, Alvarez and other Health Promotion personnel remind individuals that resolutions should be looked at as adjustable goals toward a healthier lifestyle opposed to being quick and temporary fixes.

Individuals are encouraged to set better resolutions by setting realistic goals they can actually commit to doing. Perform workouts for your appropriate fitness level either through duration or intensity of the exercises. Individuals should also plan out how much weight they can safely lose and maintain while still challenging themselves and not make comparisons to someone else.

"Two individuals with the same amount of body fat can look very different," Alvarez said.

Additionally, Alvarez encourages people to hold themselves accountable by making up workouts they miss during the week or connecting with a workout partner, group or class to keep them on track.

"Classes or groups are always more fun versus working out alone," he said. "Plus, it allows you to meet new people and work on the social aspect of resilience as well."

A physical resolution doesn't always center on working out. Often, individuals will take part in "crash" diets, which require them to give up a certain food item completely.

"Generally, this is not a good idea," said 1st Lt. Lindsey Colgan, 86th AMDS Health Promotion registered dietician. "In a healthy eating pattern, all foods fit. It is not about 'good' and 'bad' foods, just everything in moderation. People who completely cut out foods they enjoy will usually end up craving them even more. Then, when they finally do indulge, they tend to go way overboard and eat too much."

This possibility can have a negative effect on a person's goal and become another source of discouragement.

However, even taking the guidance from Health Promotion into consideration, some individuals may still quit their resolutions for a healthier lifestyle.

Alvarez attributes this to people not seeing changes that are happening to their bodies.

"Someone may say, 'I've been working out five days a week for an hour, and I'm not seeing the results that I think I should be seeing. So why am I killing myself?'" Alvarez said.

Alvarez says that even if a person can feel the difference in energy that comes from being healthier, they may still get discouraged if the numbers on the scale don't change. That's why he suggests people utilize the Bod Pod, which is a non-invasive tool to help gauge body composition.

"If someone is working out five days a week for 30 minutes to an hour and weigh the same, they may not see it on the scale," he said. "They may be increasing their lean muscle and decreasing fat."

Still this change will take time, so individuals are encouraged to use the Bod Pod every two to three months to track their progress and modify their plans accordingly.

Though the Bod Pod can be a great tool to use, it is not the only one the 86th AMDS Health Promotion program offers. They also offer resources for all aspects of physical health including tobacco cessation, healthy eating, injury prevention and numerous fitness planning courses to help resolutionists not only stick to their goals but also maintain their resolve to change.

For more information about the services provided by the 86th AMDS Health Promotion program, visit the Ramstein Health Promotion Facebook page, email 86AMDS.SGPZ.HealthPromotion@us.af.mil or call DSN 480-4292 or commercially 06371-47-4292.