Eight wellness tips for 2014

by Karl Lenser

1. Establish realistic goals. Begin with the “big picture/large goal” and then break that one down into smaller goals. A good example of this would be in the weight loss arena. If your goal is to lose 25 pounds by June 1, then the smaller goal could be to lose a little more than 1 pound per week — 25 pounds in 20 weeks (January-May). This is realistic and is a healthy goal because it falls within the 1-2 pounds/week range. To accomplish this goal, you would have to negate 4,375 calories per week (or 625/day) to lose the 25 pounds.

2. Time. If you are not currently exercising and would like to begin an exercise program, the first thing to look at is your schedule and when (not if) you can schedule your physical activity into the day. How many days per week do you plan to exercise? How many minutes per day? Scheduling and planning are critical in establishing an active lifestyle. Schedule workouts as you would schedule other important appointments.

3. Prioritize. If you are going to succeed, then you have to make exercise and nutrition a top priority. The folks that are success stories in fitness/weight loss are the ones who will wake up early to make sure they get the workout completed before the day gets rolling. They will work out first and THEN go do some shopping or errands. The longer you delay or put off the workout, the greater the chances that it won’t happen.

4. Find a partner. Exercising with a friend makes time go by so much faster and it helps the “fun factor” a hundredfold! Accountability can be a tremendous motivator. Another great option is to find some group exercise classes that you enjoy. The classes are instant accountability and motivation!

5. Tracking. Keep a logbook on a paper calendar or on your computer. Recording the workout and your comments on a workout log make the workouts seem “real.” There is a positive effect when you physically record your daily workouts. It reinforces that you did something positive for yourself and you did not skip the workout! It is, in essence, a verbal pat on the back. “I did it!”

6. Scale wisdom. Please do not be a “scale slave” throughout your weight loss journey. Establishing baseline data is one of the most important things to do when you begin your program. Go to a fitness center and find out your body weight, body fat percentage and lean tissue weight and percentage. The reason for this is that when you start losing weight, you can get re-measured and know what you are losing. Are you losing fat or muscle? A scale will not tell you what you are losing. The baseline data is critical for both feedback and motivation. It helps to know what you are made of in terms of fat and muscle weight.

7. Calories. There are 3,500 in a pound of fat. Theoretically, if you negate 500 calories per day, you can lose a pound per week (7 x 500 = 3,500). To do this, you could walk briskly or do any cardio activity for 30-40 minutes and choose NOT to have the 250 calorie donut at work or the 20-ounce Dr. Pepper or the extra helping of food that you typically have. Exercising and cutting back on your caloric intake is what it takes to lose weight. Counting calories takes some work, but it is worth it.

8. Beyond the gym. Calorie burning can be achieved in places outside of a fitness center. Whenever you are moving, you are burning calories. Taking your dog outside for a walk counts as exercise. Domestic chores such as cleaning, vacuuming, washing the car and raking leaves all require muscular movement, which burns calories. Ride your bike or walk to the store if possible. These “little low-tech” activities outside of the gym can help you with weight loss.


A Conway resident, Karl Lenser is the director of wellness programs at Hendrix College. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. An accomplished runner, he can be reached at [email protected].