By Xana Ouellette
2018 is here! Somehow most of January has managed to slip by. By this time of the year, many people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions. Big sweeping changes, giving up meat, hitting the gym every day, or only having one beer a week, are hard to keep. And once the resolution has been broken, once you miss a day at the gym or just needed to have a hamburger for lunch, it often seems like the goal was too hard or pointless and giving up is so much easier.
Fitness is a common goal, and for good reasons. According to the World Health Organization, physical activity is one of the most important predictors in the development of non-communicable illnesses and is a key factor in the quality of life. Making sure you move around enough is perhaps the best way to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and many types of cancer.
More women than men make their goals about weight loss, instead of wellness. A physically active woman is expected to look the part; slim, toned, and wearing a mix of sports bras and lululemon tights. Wellness encompasses much more than weight, and healthy physical activity with a strong heart and lungs does not necessarily mean a low body weight
Although Statistics Canada data shows that 58% of Canadian adults (in 2004) were overweight or obese according to their body mass index. But women feel pressure to lose weight in a very different way than men do. Cultural standards of beauty are tied to a woman’s worth in society, and thin women are given more worth than others. The way you look is not likely going to change the way you feel. Seeing a different number of the scale is not a good path to happiness.
So look back at your New Year’s Resolution. Make sure that is is something you really want to do. Are you heading back to the gym because you want to pass the physical abilities requirement evaluation to become a police officer? Do you want to fit into something off the cover of a fashion magazine? If your goal is to get to the gym, pick some way to measure your success other than weight.
Small changes can have lasting impacts on your health and can keep you well throughout the semester and beyond. Getting up at 5 AM to hit the gym before class every day is going to get harder once midterms start. Instead, try finding new exercise classes and get motivated by fun ways to be more physically active. If there’s no extreme cold warning, get off the bus early and walk a little bit more. Feel better about the way that you can move and the things that you can do, rather than the number on a scale.
So when you’re thinking about what changes you want to make in your life, start small. Try one new thing a week until Reading Week. When you go slow, you can change your life.
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