When was the last time you made it from January to December keeping all your New Year's resolutions? If you're like most people, the answer is probably "Never!" - especially when your primary resolution is to increase your level of health and fitness. For most of us, this goal seems about as possible as sprouting wings and flying to the Moon - and, in practice, it certainly can seem that way.
The problem may be unworkable goals. We often imagine ourselves as having a distinctly different body type from the one we actually have.
In the days of Renoir and the Impressionists, the ideal female body type was the endomorph, a body type with voluptuous curves. In the '60s and '70s, when women athletes began matching their male counterparts medal by medal, the ideal female body type was the mesomorph, whose contours are dictated by muscle. Today, as so many women's health experts criticize, the idealized female body type is the ectomorph - a type outlined by bone. Most idealized male body types are mesomorphic, though there are both heavy mesomorphs (football players) and slim mesomorphs (basketball players and track runners).
Don't expect to turn yourself into another body type. Try as you might, it's not going to happen. It's totally OK to be an endomorph, as long as you're fit and healthy. The Impressionist painters certainly thought so! Remember this as you start your health and fitness program.
And don't get too hung up on scale weight. It is NOT always a reliable gauge as to how your fitness program is going. You may lose twenty pounds the first month, but after that your weight loss could suddenly slow to a crawl. Your body could be replacing the lost fat with water, or thinking there's a famine on and hanging on for dear life to its stored sources of nutrition! Also, if you've been developing muscle, you won't always see fat losses reflected on the scale, because muscle weighs more than fat. Try to think less in terms of losing scale weight than increasing and strengthening your allover level of strength and fitness.
How can we stick to the health and fitness goal that's right for us as we ring in the New Year? Here are the general guides for each Sun Sign.
Aries: Although few Rams need to lose weight, you often don't see the need to exercise. You may feel that walking from the front door to the car is enough exercise for you! This weakens the body. Even if you don't need to diet, exercise is vital for an Aries. Find a program you find fun and exciting - perhaps even competitive - and stick with it.
Taurus: Taureans love good food, and while you can give it up for a while, in the end you might blow weeks of effort by returning to your old eating habits. A good low-fat cookbook can enable you to push on for considerably longer. Invest in two or three - and you'll be eating delicious food and slimming down the entire year.
Gemini: Gemini can go for several days eating very little - and thus are among the few signs of the Zodiac that actually need to GAIN weight! As to exercise, you should concentrate on less stressful disciplines such as yoga or Tai Chi. You go like a race horse, leaving you very little energy. Slow down.
Cancer: You tend to retain water in your tissues, and thus you may need to cut way down on sodium. If you're a salt freak, try a salt substitute. As you cut down on foods, concentrate on expunging from your diet any food high in fat and/or sodium - and then find an exercise program you love. Swimming might be just your thing.
Leo: Unfortunately, your favorite foods are probably those you need the least: fatty foods, such as juicy meats or luscious dairy-based desserts. However, if you find some good low-fat recipes, you just might eventually find the high-fat ones too heavy for your taste. Try this kind of substitution. It just might work!
Virgo: Do you count every calorie, read every food label scrupulously, and treat fat and sugar as if they were poison? If so, you're probably slim, trim, and fit, but your diet - and thus a large part of your life - could be exceedingly lackluster. It's OK to go for the not-so-healthy stuff once in awhile. Think of it as emotional health food.
Libra: Your social life is very important to you, and therefore at parties you may find often yourself faced with hors d'oeuvres that contain as much fat and calories as a whole meal! So what do you do? A good compromise is to take one or two of these tasty treats and nurse them all night. Then eat a healthy meal later, at home.
Scorpio: You're a person of extremes. When you're involved with something that's important to you, you can forget to eat - but then you make it up the next day by stuffing yourself with a near-banquet! This throws your system out of balance and keeps you from being as fit as you'd like. Keep your eating habits regular.
Sagittarius: You're a natural athlete, who enjoys working out. But your body may remain heavier than you'd like for some reason. Try not to indulge in fantasies of becoming a supermodel or a marathon runner. If you're muscular and at least fairly solid, you're probably quite fit. Don't push to get thin.
Capricorn: Are you a workaholic? Chances are you live on coffee, donuts, fast food or, when you go for business lunches or dinners, lots of high-calorie, high-fat foods. And exercise? What's that, you ask? You're too busy to join a gym, or even take fast walks around the block. Make the time. Clean up your diet. Ambitious people can't afford to be sick.
Aquarius: Of all the signs, you're probably the luckiest when it comes to seeking health and fitness. You've got a naturally strong body, and enough intellectual interests so that your mind stays busy and you don't obsess about food. And before you know it, that half hour on the treadmill is over. So why wait? Start creating health now!
Pisces: Your biggest problem is that when you're in a bad mood, you eat to comfort yourself. And like your fellow water sign Cancer, you tend to retain water in your system. However, your artistic talents can easily distract you from any desire to overeat, no matter where it comes from. For exercise, you prefer swimming, yoga, and Tai Chi. Your body is a work of art. Perfect it!