For this first week of a brand new year I’ve reached out to some of Afrobella’s contributors for guest posts on resolutions. First up is Afrobella’s fitness expert Renisha of RenewedFitness, please follow her on Twitter @RenewedFitness and join her Facebook page! Take it away, Re!

We’ve entered the part of the year where everyone is inspired, motivated, changing and ready for a fresh new start. No doubt, anticipating a new year is exciting and we all can’t wait to see what it brings. We also get excited about these wonderful things called resolutions. We resolve to do something spectacular or impossible or something that just didn’t get done the year before. And we can’t wait to say outloud what we’ve resolved to do: “I’m gonna quit drinking!” “I’m gonna eat healthier.” “I’m going to run a 5K!” We add hope and good intentions to these resolutions, but then what happens? By February, we’ve fallen off. (Admit it, this has happened with your resolutions plenty of times.)

What I’ve noticed about resolutions is that they tend to be too broad. They’re extremely general and don’t really meet a specific need. They sound great, and most of the time they don’t come with a plan of action. So, let’s skip the resolutions and get down to actually meeting these awesome goals. Setting a goal that involves fitness, health or nutrition requires focus and a plan. So, let’s get down to it. I’m going to address what I think are the most popular health and fitness resolutions people make for the new year. Ready?

Below this post, there will be a list of additional online resources to help you execute your plan.

“I’m Going To Lose Weight”
First of all, ask yourself why. What’s the reason? Determine the root to wanting to lose weight, first. Check your motives. If you’re trying to look like a celebrity, check them again. If you want to feel better about yourself, get more energy, be able to play with your kids and be a good example to them, or stop the cycle of disease in your family, then we can start there.

Second, how much do you want to lose? And WHY? Don’t just throw out 20 pounds (or another number) without doing some research. Did you gain 20 lbs and you know that before then, you felt great or were healthier? Is your doctor advising you to lose 20 lbs because it will lower your cholesterol or blood pressure? Do you need to lose 20 lbs so that you can begin training for a race? Narrow down the number and the reason, then move from there.

Third, set up a plan. There’s nothing more disappointing than saying you’re going to lose weight, trying to, and failing miserably. Most people fail at this task because they don’t have a plan and don’t know where to start. Losing weight in a healthy way involves exercise and eating health, whole, unprocessed foods. Write down what you’re going to do, and when you’re going to do it.

For example: I’m going to exercise at the gym 3 times a week from January until March. If I can’t make it to the gym, I will do my own workout at home or with a DVD. (If 2 times a week is more attainable, do that.) The key? Be consistent! Then, after you’ve written it down, schedule it. Make it important to you. Set an alarm in your phone or in your calendar. Have someone call or text you to remind you to get your workout in. Be accountable to yourself.

“ I’m Going To Eat Healthier.”
What exactly does this mean for you? Most of the time, people know what they should or shouldn’t eat, or know that they eat too much of something, but they don’t have the will power to change it. Eating better takes true dedication because everything we want to eat, that we know isn’t good for us, is EVERYWHERE! So, determine what “eating healthier” truly means for you and then make a plan. Every single one of us has good intentions, but nothing will change without a plan. You may even want to get your hands on a structured meal plan for yourself, just to get you started. Something you can follow everyday so that you have a better chance of success. (check the list of resources below for some awesome websites that help you plan your meals, create grocery lists, and eat clean)

Also, be careful with choosing to “cut out” things from your diet. Especially if you decide to cut a lot of things at once. A move like that can be extremely overwhelming, and just plain tough. If you decide you’re going to cut things out of your diet, do it gradually. Cutting sugar AND carbs AND fried foods AND dairy AND salt out of everything you eat, all at the same time, is daunting. Start with one unhealthy food habit first, and each day, make a conscious effort not to eat so much of it. Maybe 1 teaspoon of sugar in your coffee instead of 2. Maybe whole grain bread with your sandwich instead of white bread. And it always helps to ADD more healthy, whole foods to your diet. Water is always good for you, so drink up. And add more green veggies.

Lastly, if you’re able to, consult with a doctor before going overboard with changing the way you eat, especially if it’s drastic. You could cause some harm to your body and we don’t want that! Be smart about what you choose to eat or cut out.

“I’m Going To Run a Race (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon)”
I love this resolution, and I’m probably partial to it because it was a resolution of mine many years ago. It’s so great to be inspired to move and get fit and running is definitely one of those instant inspirations. Running is invigorating. It’s a great way to get in shape and lose weight. But I totally understand how it can be intimidating and why people tend to quit running after a little while. I wrote a great “Beginner’s Guide” to running on my blog that outlines the important steps to starting a running program.

But again, the idea here is to plan it out, then execute it. If you’ve never run before and you really want to, start walking. Walk everyday. Walk a mile, or two. Walk around the block a few times. Or briskly walk on the treadmill at the gym. Running, non-stop for miles is definitely something that you need to build up to. So give yourself some grace, and time, and work your way up to running. If you’re eager to start, try some intervals. Run 1 minute, walk for 2 minutes. After you’ve mastered those time intervals, make each one longer. (Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes) Until you can run for longer than you need to walk. Keep at it. Be diligent. You’ll be a runner in no time!
If you’ve already done some running and now you think you’re ready to train for a race, go for it! Get yourself a training plan for your particular distance and level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) and follow it. Preparation is key. Also, look into joining a running group in your area. Support is also important and in a running group you’ll find just that. Folks just like you, looking to get or stay fit and have grown to love running. You can meet up with other folks in your city on a regular basis to get your workout in, which will help you stick to this resolution.

Finally…after you’ve set specific, reachable goals (not general resolutions) and written down your plan of execution, get your hands on some of your favorite motivational quotes or sayings. Write them down and post them up where they are visible. Every day, when you set out to accomplish parts of your plan, read them out loud and start to believe what you’re speaking. When your journey starts to get a little tough, or you “fall off the wagon” refer to that motivation to get you going again. No one can accomplish these goals but you. You’ve got to want them bad enough to take the necessary steps to make sure you’re successful.

So, forget those broad and general resolutions. Set a specific goal, plan out how you’ll reach it, then get to work.

Happy New Year, bellas! I pray 2012 is full of amazing accomplishments!

Resources to get you started on the road to awesome-ness: – Great website dedicated to helping you plan your meals for the week. You can import your favorite recipes into it and it even produces a grocery list for you to take to the store. – Amazing website dedicated to addressing the health issues that plague African-American women by encouraging them to take on healthy lifestyles. Running being one of the ways to get and stay fit. They also have branches set up all over the country. Check to see if there’s a BGR running group in your city. – Looking for a running group that will train you to run a race and support one of your favorite charities? Look no further than Team In Training. – Planning to lose some weight this year, check out how Erika did it by exercising and eating clean. She’s extremely passionate about dispelling the misconceptions we have about food and how it affects us. Great resource for how to eat clean, too! – Keeping your motivation right in front of you for you to see is so important to keeping your goals in mind. So if you need something to help keep your vision intact, check out Oprah’s Vision Board where you can pin up words, pictures, or anything else about where you envision your life. – Need some workouts you can do at home? Check these out. No excuses, right?

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India says:
January 3, 2012, 2:20 pm
Thanks for giving me that idea. Going to the gym three times a week, from Jan to March.... Then setting another goal from there. I don't want to just focus on losing weight, my goal is to become comfortable in the gym and in exercise classes. I want to obsessed with staying healthy, and have it set an example for my family. That is my physical goal of 2012!
Gabriella says:
January 4, 2012, 7:10 am
Good Tips. They are sure to come in handy as we begin another year. All the best for 2012.
NubianSoul says:
January 4, 2012, 7:32 pm
Love the post!!! I agree- I always put fitness into my list of resolutions but I don't completely fulfill my fitness goals. Last year, I decided to up the ante in terms of fitness, by becoming an instructor for a gym class, as well as being more active outdoors. This year, I finally signed up for a 10k run. I've always wanted to do one but I was scared- but on New Year's day, I went online and signed up- so now I'm forcing myself to plan and prepare... Now I'm excited. I plan on really challenging myself this year!
Sherry Blossom says:
January 5, 2012, 11:34 pm
Great info I love the break downs...pushing one to really find out what their resolutions are for the new year.
Beauty Lover says:
January 6, 2012, 12:07 pm
Love the post. Motivation is the key to sucess. I like how you have provided with different web sites to keep ourselves motivated. Thanks.
kia says:
January 10, 2012, 7:41 pm
such a refreshing post at the beginning of the year! i hope to get this all right this year! ;)
Tina says:
January 22, 2012, 10:37 pm
My first step to staying loyal to daily exercise was to make it easy. I have a smooth little hip rotation session (both directions for 20 minutes) that keeps my IBS in check, starts to put me in a good mood, and ensures I keep something up even if I don't take the time to do a faster paced hula dance workout. The hip "workout" is relaxing and the hula is fun. Won't find it in a gym- but, if you did, it wouldn't be convenient and perfect for my personal style now would it? This is the most fun "easeful" way I've discovered thus far for working out which is necessary in my life for multiple of reasons.