Getting in shape tops the list of most New Year’s Resolutions. But anyone who enters a packed gym in early January knows the crowds will surely thin by the end of February.
Dr. Joel Ingersoll, a clinical psychologist and a certified personal trainer, knows the psychology of keeping fitness resolutions – and the secrets of success in 2012.
“New Year's connotes a fresh start, and it's great that people want to start the year off with a desire to be more fit and healthy,” said Dr. Ingersoll, Director of the Center for Psychological Health & Fitness. “But we know that 60 percent of gym memberships go unused. As both a psychologist and a personal trainer I see many people making the same mistakes and setting themselves up for challenges in the New Year.”
Dr. Ingersoll is one of just a handful of clinical psychologists in the nation who also are certified as personal trainers. He provides psychotherapy to patients and will add on 15, 30 or 45 minute sessions of personal training to the psychology session. Dr Ingersoll believes that physical fitness can improve mood, reduce stress, depression, anxiety and lead to better mental health.
Here is his advice for starting the New Year off with a fitness and healthy living program than can last all year:
- Be realistic. Do not set up goals, say, running five miles each day, which you are unlikely to achieve. That could set up a cycle of success and failure and contribute to negative thinking and frustration.
- Vary your workout. Boredom will set in quickly if you focus on one type of exercise, such as running on the treadmill. Vary your activity and your music. Keep your workout fresh and interesting.
- Don't focus on the numbers on the scale. Think about redefining your lifestyle and make fitness a part of that effort. The numbers will follow.
- Don't let negative self-image keep you from the gym. Find a place where you are comfortable, perhaps exercising with a DVD in your living room or briskly walking in the park.
- Create a system of accountability and monitoring so a slip does not lead to long-term abandonment of your fitness goals.
Dr. Ingersoll talks to patients about self-image, negative thinking and helps them create realistic fitness goals and works with them to maintain those goals.
“People who use the New Year as an opportunity to get fit will feel better for it, both physically and mentally,” Dr. Ingersoll said.