Shedding those holiday pounds

Paulo Soares, an employee at Planet Fitness in Naugatuck, shows how to work out last week. Many people make getting in shape a New Year’s resolution, but few keep up their work-outs after the first few months of the new year. - LARAINE WESCHLER

The turkey has been carved, the presents have been opened, and the champagne has been uncorked. It’s time to face the reality of what the last few months of extra gravy, Christmas cookies, and other holiday treats have done to our waistlines.

Americans gain an average of one pound between Thanksgiving and New Years, according to the National Institute of Health, but they don’t loose that weight during the rest of the year.

It’s no secret that many people make losing weight their New Years resolution, but fewer follow through on their promises.

The Planet Fitness gym in Naugatuck sees a 30 percent spike in users between January and March, according to General Manager Susan Ferrari, but after that attendance starts to wane as people lose their resolve. She said most new gym members are gone within two months.

“I believe they look at it as a resolution and not a lifestyle change,” Ferrari said.

Mike Ramano, manager of The Club, agreed, saying he also sees a big spike in gym membership around this time of year.

Losing weight and keeping it off is not just about going on a fad diet for a few weeks. The basic equation comes down to eating fewer calories and exercising more.

Ferrari said many people get discouraged because they don’t see results right away and lose interest.

She said a lot of people in the fitness industry make a lot of money off of New Years resolutions that are never fully realized.

For those who have never been to the gym, Ferrari said it’s important to start out slow.

“Look at it as one day closer to reaching that goal,” Ferrari said.

Ramano said he tells the members of a fitness boot camp he teaches to go beyond the abstract goal of losing weight for their New Years resolution. Some of his students decide to run a marathon or do an obstacle course race.

“Some of them just want to do a race and finish and that’s an accomplishment for a lot of people,” Ramano said.

Whatever the goal, a tangible measurement of success helps propel students forward, he said.

Once you’ve made your goal, Ramano said, post it on Facebook.

“When you kept it to yourself you can bail out a bit,” he said.

Making your goals public means that others will hold you accountable, he said.

Ferrari said anyone looking to shed a few pounds for the new year should take advantage of free help at the gym.

Planet Fitness offers a free 30 minute consultation for new members to get them started on goals and training regimens, but Ferrari said a lot of people are intimidated and embarrassed to ask for help.

Ramano said he sees a lot of people work really hard for the first three months.

“Some make unrealistic goals. Those are the ones that fall off after March. They have to have a plan,” he said.

Ramano suggested sitting down with a trainer or joining a class. Working with a group keeps you motivated, he added.

“You can’t just come in and wing it and think you’re going to see the results,” Ramano said.

Sometimes, Ferrari said, it takes a resolution to jump start a healthy lifestyle, but those that stick with it are serious about keeping fit.

“Let it be a journey instead of a quick fix,” she said.