In the Right Direction

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Not sure who needs to hear this, but health is a lifelong journey — and each of those journeys is one-of-a-kind.

With that said, many of us end up using the turn of New Year’s as the time to challenge our extra baggage and inactivity head-on.

Well, it’s not January anymore. This is the time of year that we have to face the mirror and decide if it’s time to buckle down and get back on track or just decide “better luck next year.”

For dietitian Peggy Rosales, her goal is to help Valley residents find healthy eating habits throughout the calendar, not just when it’s time to set resolutions.

She is the lone licensed and registered dietician on staff at PR Nutrition Consulting, the business that she started five years ago. Along with dietary advice, her practice also sells portion-controlled meal prep and offers cooking classes.

“The focus should always be a balanced meal,” Rosales said. “It’s easy to grab something if you’re in a hurry and that meal wasn’t balanced. Something was missing … whether it’s protein, whether it’s a healthy fat, maybe it’s a complex carb that we’re missing.”

Healthy habits start in the home and if you have children, it is a family affair. Childhood obesity, for example, often reflects the environment and available food options.

“If a child is overweight or say they have diabetes, I kind of link to the parent,” Rosales said. “Usually what I hear is ‘oh, we go out to eat a lot.’ Well, who has the money? You’re buying the food for them. Obviously they’re kids. They’re going to eat what tastes better.”

According to Rosales, part of the trouble with New Year’s resolutions is the expectation to see drastic change in a short period of time.

“When it comes down to setting goals, we should always try to aim for realistic goals,” Rosales said. “Nothing like 10 pounds in a week. We pack on the weight in long periods of time, so it’s probably going to take a little while to lose that.”

If you’ve never studied behavior, her next quote might be impactful knowledge to jot down.

“They say it takes 21 days, three weeks, to build a good habit,” Rosales said. “It’s hard to make these huge changes or want to see huge results when it takes a lot of time to build a habit.”

Jesus Gutierrez is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Mission. Even though not everyone’s goals are having a ripped body, any change takes targeted action.

“You have to find the right thing for you,” Gutierrez said. “Whether it’s walking your dog outside or listening to an audiobook when you exercise or finding a gym partner, someone that can hold you accountable.”

His philosophy echoed Rosales: digestible steps to promote accomplishments rather than getting discouraged.

“It’s about baby steps, right? If you’re going from no days of exercise, zero activity a week, you can’t just be like ‘I’m going to work out six days a week.’ It’s not going to happen,” Gutierrez said. “You have to be very determined.”

Having a plan to enter the healthy realms is key to sustained success. Gutierrez said that once the habit is formed, it will start to feel missing from your routine.

“It’s going to be part of your lifestyle and if you ever don’t work out, you’re going to feel it,” he said. “If you don’t brush your teeth, you feel like you’re missing something — it’s something you’re used to. Eventually, you could get that ‘runner’s high’ or just those endorphins.”

As a strength and fitness coach for his clients, he says that adding weights on top of a cardio regimen can do wonders for your body.

“Muscle naturally burns fat, so that’s going to help you change your body,” he said. “If you reach your plateau with your cardio, weightlifting will help you break that.”

So if it’s springtime and you are falling short of your goals, don’t fret. You have a whole life to live with the potential to turn the page to something healthier for the long haul.

How do you build the habits you stick with? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.