By Staff Sgt. Monica Ricci, 439 AW/PA
/ Published January 08, 2019
Losing weight and improving fitness top most New Year’s resolutions lists. Making these resolutions is easy, but sticking to them can be hard.
With the new year, you’ve probably got a new set of goals.
Making realistic goals
Westover’s Wing Exercise Physiologist Jimmy Puchalski says it’s okay to have big goals, but first focus on smaller milestones along the way.
“Understand you’re not going to get where you want to be right off the bat,” Puchalski said. “So, have an idea of where you want to be long term, then work your way back from there and find out where you want to be in the next month, the next three months, and so on.”
Puchalski also said the more specific your goals are, the easier they will be to achieve. Sometimes you’ll have multiple specific goals that you need to work on separately to get your desired results.
“For example, if I want to get really big, but I also want to be really lean, it’s going to take time to put on muscle mass, which is kind of at odds with losing body fat,” Puchalski said. “So, I might have to take time to put on muscle mass before I drop down in body fat.”
How often do I need to work out?
Puchalski recommends doing something to get moving around every day.
“But every day doesn’t have to be all out, or hardcore,” he explained. “I’d say three days a week of focused, intense exercise is pretty good.”
If you like to take the weekends off from exercising, Puchalski says that’s okay too. Getting five days of workouts in, from Monday through Friday for example, is ideal.
What if I’m too busy?
Knowing your habits will be helpful to staying on track.
“If you’re someone who likes to workout at home, and you know that you’ll be motivated and consistent with doing that, then find opportunities to work out around the house, whether that’s home exercise videos or investing in some equipment,” Puchalski said.
If you’re the opposite and like to go to the gym, find out what time you’re most likely to go so that you’re less likely to skip out.
“If you’re someone who likes to get home and relax, finding that time to get to the gym is key,” Puchalski said. If you need to go before you get home, as soon as you get off work, go to the gym even if it is a quick workout.”
If it’s been months and you’ve stopped seeing results, Puchalski says ask yourself what you haven’t been doing.
“If you’ve been doing weight training, and it’s been high reps, high volume stuff, maybe go with a little bit heavier weight,” Puchalski said. “If you’ve been doing a lot of long distance running, change it up and maybe add some sprints,” he said.
Moving your body a little differently to what it’s been used to could help you break through that plateau and stay on track to reach your long-term goals.
It’s not only about physical activity
Maintaining a healthy diet goes hand in hand with physical fitness.
“Achieving your fitness goals--whether that’s losing weight, getting stronger, getting faster--nutrition is the key to that,” Puchalski said. “It’s just like putting gas in your car. If you put the wrong kind of fuel in your car, it’s not going to run.”
Feeling better overall
Not only does remaining committed to your goals and fitness help improve your physical health, it can also help improve your overall wellbeing.
“There’s countless amounts of research that looks at exercise and how that affects your cognitive state, and your mental performance,” Puchalski said. “We know it can help you work better at your job; we know it can affect your emotions, your stress levels.”
Puchalski said small doses of regular exercise can benefit psychological health in a big way.
Fitness test prep
The best way to prepare for your physical fitness test is to train specifically for the test.
“For pushups and sit ups, your best bet is body-weight activity. So for sit-ups, a variety of core stability work like planks, and then for pushups, obviously practicing pushups and getting your upper body stronger in general,” Puchalski explained. “Pulling and pushing—you can use free weights, cables, dumbbells—and getting your triceps strong can really help with your pushups.”
As far as long distance running goes, Puchalski recommends starting small and gradually building up to greater distances for the best results.
The base fitness center is now open 24 hours a day. The gym is only staffed from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on UTA Saturdays, and from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on UTA Sundays. For 24-hour access, you must first fill out an agreement form and hand it in to fitness center staff. These forms are available at the fitness center front desk or on the Westover Air Reserve Base app. To download the app on your Apple or Android phone, just search 439th Airlift Wing in the app store.
Wing physiologist Jimmy Puchalski is available for one-on-one training, group training, and fitness consultations. To schedule any of these services, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-557-2667.
Puchalski also holds group conditioning classes Tuesdays at 6:45 a.m. and 11 a.m., and Thursdays at 6:45 a.m. No need to sign up prior to the class.