Going too hard in the gym in January can be like sprinting the first 100 yards of a marathon: it’s a recipe for failure.

Either you burn out and feel miserable, or you hurt yourself and can’t do anything. We’re no experts; we just know from experience.

But we know experts. So we reached out to one for you.

Razia Jayman-Aristide, MD, of Northwell Health’s Southside Hospital in Bay Shore started the women’s health initiative, which is mainly for working moms in healthcare. But the advice applies for men, women and families. The goal is a healthier you that will last a lifetime.

FINDING TIME

We all know the biggest objection to working out is there’s no time. And it’s understandable, between work, chores, maybe kids, and less daylight in the winter, the days move fast.

And then you just want to veg out and enjoy some me time.

The fact is, there is enough time. And the good doctor says everyone can find 30 minutes.

One suggestion is combine family or recreational time with some wellness.

“Make it a family thing or a couple’s thing,” she suggest. “At night after dinner, stretch, do yoga. Especially for families where there isn’t too much time in the day, so it’s really about trying to prioritize that. Maybe eat in 20 minutes and spend the rest of the time working out.”

She also understands that short winter days can be an energy drainer. And it’s too out, right?

“It doesn’t have to be an hour-long workout in the gym,” she says. “It could be a good 30 minutes in the house this time of year; there are plenty of exercises on YouTube, beach body programs.

“You don’t need equipment to do a few jumping jacks and sit-ups, you know?”

PLANNING AHEAD

“We tell our younger adults, your abs are made in your kitchen; you’re made of what you eat,” says Dr. Jayman-Aristide

But that goes for all, because 80 percent of our health comes from the kitchen, she says.

People tend to make huge mistakes though, like “dieting.”

The move is to change life habits. And pre-planning is key, according to Dr. Jayman-Aristide.

In other words, know what tonight or tomorrow might bring, meal wise.

“Don’t deprive yourself of anything,” she insists. “Do it in moderation. And this is where pre-planning comes in. So if you’re going to to have steak and mash potatoes that night, try to eat light during the day. That will see your through the day and you can really enjoy your dinner.”

Or say that you find yourself going out to restaurants three nights in a row, where it’s hard to be healthy.

“Maybe by that second or third day you order a nice piece of salmon with salad,” she says.

Even with the kids, if there’s a birthday party that afternoon, stay away from juice that day.

“They’ll be eating cake and soda later, so stick to water all day,” she says.

As for junk, the suggestion again is to be aware of your habits.

“We don’t want you to get McDonald’s ever, but if it’s four times a month, cut it to two,” she says.

ROLE MODELING

Want to be a better you and help your kids too? Be a better role model.

You know those kids are always watching like hawks. And what they learn by your actions gets passed down indefinitely.

“So generations and generations of kids are going to be affected by how we live our lives now,” says Dr. Jayman-Aristide. 

As if you didn’t feel guilty enough, right? But it’s a profound and weighty statement by design.

“People tend to care more about others than themselves,” the doctor says.

Yet there are ways to role model that fun and take little extra effort.

For example, just don’t make a salad that magically appears on the table, invite your kids to help. And invite them to help with the grocery shopping and explain about healthy choices; don’t just snap “no” to Fruity Pebbles; take a second to explain why. Maybe, eventually, it will sink in.

What you’ll also be doing is spending quality time.

“These days, when more and more people are working, there’s a constant struggle on a day-to-day basis to spend quality time with our kids, and there’s working mom or dad guilt,” she said.

So bring on the exercise as part of family time.

“We got a stationary bicycle from Amazing for $100,” Dr. Jayman-Aristide says. “We put it in our living room and we come home and we’re exhausted, so when we watch a movie, we’ll take turn on the bicycle.”

Or plop an exercise ball in the living room and everyone does a circuit while watching TV.

Basically, your daily life and the family dynamic needs to include health and exercise.

That’s how you complete the marathon.

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash