As we begin the new year, making New Year’s resolutions becomes quite popular. I hear many impressive sounding resolutions such as: “I want to lose 50 pounds”, I want to run a marathon”, “I want to become a vegan.” All are great long term goals but can become quite overwhelming at the start. Many people start with these goals in mind, but most fail in the short term and quit altogether. It is important to have long term goals (1-5 years ahead), but just as important to break them down into smaller manageable goals and tasks. You want to create short term goals and tasks that are very manageable and achievable. You want to almost ensure success so you can then build on small successes with even greater successes. For example, set a goal of losing only 5 pounds over 2 months (much more manageable physically and mentally than losing 50 lbs. – we can get our arms around this reasonable goal).  Next, break this goal down into smaller daily specific tasks. First, to lose lose a pound of fat requires burning an excess of  3500 calories. Therefore, losing 5 pounds requires burning 17, 500 calories over 2 months (3500 calories x 5 pounds = 17, 500 calories). Over 60 days this then requires burning approximately an extra 300 calories a day. (17,500 calories/ 60 days = 292 calories/day). Great, so the daily goal is to burn approximately 300 calories a day which becomes very manageable. An average male uses about 2200 calories a day. An average female uses 1900 calories a day. (You can use online calculators to better specify your daily usage based on weight, height, age, and activity levels). How do we then lose extra calories? We have several options here. Actually, we have basically two – less calories in (eat less) and more calories out (increase activity levels/exercise). One potential option (there are multiple) is to eat 200 calories less each day and to walk an extra 2000 steps/1 mile (100 calories).  Another option is to walk an extra 6000 steps a day/ 3 miles (300 calories) alone. Both are very reasonable. Therefore, if you are an average male, you can consume 2000 calories a day (2200 – 200 = 2000) and walk an extra mile to burn 300 calories a day and you will lose about 5 lbs. in 2 months. Not very complicated. Small goals/tasks on a daily and consistent basis will build on each other and allow you to achieve even bigger goals. So start small with very manageable goals. Celebrate your small successes as you achieve them! Happy 2012! We hope this is your happiest and healthiest New Year yet!

Author: drjeffgreenberg

Dr Greenberg is a clinical cardiologist who specializes in preventive cardiology, nutrition, exercise, and longevity. He favors using natural methods to improving one's health.

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