In a nation where 66 percent of adults age 20 or older are overweight or obese, the holidays only add to the problem. Christmas usually involves a feast. Or two. Or three. Followed by sitting around and taking it easy.

Then the specter of the New Year’s resolution rises up, and millions solemnly promise to lose weight and keep it off.

A few keep that promise. The rest of us either fall back on our old ways or seek professional advice. Chrissy Turney sought advice three years ago.

“I went to the diet doctor, Dr. (Michael) Hammond,” she said. “He talked about diet and exercise, and he told me about Regina (Hurst, a personal trainer and aerobics instructor).”

Turney, 39, said her lifestyle at that time involved no fitness activity, but lots of fast-food meals at McDonald’s. Now she works out at Strictly Fitness daily.

“Not only have diet and exercise been very important to my health, but it helps as an outlet for stress and anger,” she said. “Within a couple of weeks after I started, I felt a difference in my energy level.”

It was important to combine exercise with nutrition education, Turney said.

She doesn’t believe weight control can ever be a short-term fix.

“Some times I hear people talk about going on a diet,” she said. “It’s not about going on a diet; it has to be a change for the rest of your life.”

Hurst, Turney’s trainer, said she hopes people will eat during the holidays only until they are full, not until they have to unbutton their pants. But there are simple ways to start making up for the oversized meals.

“If they’ve been inactive, walking is the best way to start,” she said. “It should be a brisk pace for 20 minutes or more, four days a week.”

Hurst said customers who sign up for a membership at Strictly Fitness start with an orientation session with a gym trainer.

“That helps put them on a program where they’ve been shown how to do the exercises and techniques for different muscle groups,” she said. “We also take a body measurement and their weight to calculate their body mass index (BMI).”

Brian Ousley, owner at Strictly Fitness and a licensed personal trainer, said everybody needs variety in their exercise, which is one of the advantages of having a personal trainer.

“Set short-term and long-term goals,” he said. “There is no reason to be extreme in your diet. As long as calories consumed match calories burned, you have no other choice but to lose body fat.”

Ousley said the three keys to fitness are proper eating, sleeping and exercise.

“For a person who is in good shape, they require less sleep,” he said. “And the good thing about an exercise regime is that energy adds energy.”

Both Ousley and Hurst said the personal atmosphere at their fitness center is extremely important. That was confirmed by Melissa Ratterree, a psychotherapist with Muskogee Regional Medical Center's outpatient psychiatric center, Pavilion Counseling and Referral Center.

Ratterree said personal interactions in any fitness activity have much to do with whether a person sticks with their program.

“If I walk through the door at the fitness center and everyone is sad, I may work out on the machine, but will I come back?” she said. “No. My sister works out at a fitness center and tells me about her friends there.”

In addition to the relationships in group fitness activities, Ratterree said there is the added reward of accomplishment.

“The person thinks, ‘I achieved something,’” she said. “You carry that with you; you associate good feelings with the gym.”

Ultimately, the factors for successful weight loss and fitness are similar to most other goals.

“A certain percentage of people are self-motivated,” she said. “But, we are sort of a pack animal. Whether it’s Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, or grief support systems; people fare better when they have that support system.”

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