It’s a shiny New Year and, if you’re like most people, your New Year’s resolutions most likely include eating a healthier diet, getting more exercise, and maybe losing weight. Unfortunately, 80 percent of resolution-makers lose their resolve sometime around mid-February. The biggest reason: people set unrealistic expectations.
And, says Ron Fay, they use inaccurate ways to measure success. Ron and his wife, Barb, run Fay’s Fitness, Inc. and know a thing or two about exercise, diet, and health. For Ron Fay, the biggest problem is that people look to the bathroom scale as an indication of how healthy they are.
“The scale only indicates earth’s gravitational pull on your body,” he said. “It won’t tell you whether the weight you gained over the holidays is water or fat, and it won’t tell you what you need to do to lose it.”
While a useful measuring tool, the scale can be deceptive. Ron Fay notes that even though some people in their 50s may weigh the same as they did in high school, that weight may have shifted from shoulder muscles to fat around their middle.
“And when some people start working out here at Fay’s, they gain muscle. That’s a good thing,” he emphasizes, “but it can be discouraging to watch the needle on the scale go up, especially when you’re doing everything right.”
So beginning Monday, Jan. 20, the Fays are challenging local residents to “Stay Off the Scale.” It’s a lifestyle challenge, said Fay. “Weight is only one aspect to living a healthy life,” he said. “There are many other factors, such as stress, lack of sleep, and eating processed food, that affect our health and how we feel.”
The challenge runs for six weeks. It is free, and anyone can participate. You don’t have to be a Fay’s Fitness member, Ron Fay said. “Fay’s Fitness is a labor of love,” he said, “and we’re doing this for the community.”
When designing the challenge, Ron Fay researched other ways people could measure their health. Activity and diet play a major role in a healthy lifestyle and are two factors that people can control. Using well-established guidelines from the American Heart Association, the Surgeon General, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Fay developed a set of off-the-scale metrics that are fairly simple to track.
To keep it fun he threw in a bit of competition by assigning points for hitting nutrition and exercise targets and created an easy way to keep track of what you do.
For example, CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. This breaks down to 30 minutes a day for five days, so a brisk half-hour walk around town earns you 10 points.
Participants can earn points for strength training, meeting a minimum number of steps, taking a CrossFit class, and even doing yoga or tai chi.
Nutrition targets focus on decreasing the amount of sugar you eat, obtaining more than a quarter of your calories from protein sources, and staying within your calorie range.
To make it even easier, Ron Fay developed a scorecard for participants to note their progress. “Tracking what you do is a key part of the process,” he said. He likes using computer trackers because they do all the math and notes there are a number of online trackers available.
As for Barb Fay, she likes keeping track using paper and pencil. “Journaling is a proven key to success,” she said, citing CDC. “Writing things down helps you be accountable to yourself.”
Fay participated in the two pilot challenges last year and credits them with saving her life. Early in 2019 in the year she wasn’t feeling quite right. Then she started tracking her diet and noticed the amount of sugar. Decreasing that and maintaining her activity helped her feel better, and as a bonus, she lost a few pounds. Now she feels stronger and healthier.
“Writing things down reminds me that I’m in control,” Barb Fay said, “especially when there’s cake in the break room and I know that I’m making the decision whether to eat it or not.”
The challenge is appropriate for all ages and abilities. In the last challenge, the oldest participant was in their 70s. If you are interested, contact Ron or Barb Fay at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 659-4818. You can find Fay’s Fitness on Facebook and Instagram.