Here we go! It's that time of year for New Year's resolutions. It's the Super Bowl of the fitness industry, and I promise you, they started banking on your resolutions months ago. Truth be told, genuine fitness professionals would prefer you maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the year, but we also know that Jan. 1 holds special power for motivating positive changes. We've learned to work with it.

For those of you who are trying to choose who and/or what to help them, the marketing noise can be deafening. The fitness industry (weight loss included) brilliantly convinces you their product or service is the magic bullet. This year you will lose that weight, firm up those flabby arms and run that marathon - all from the comfort of your living room. There's no need to sweat. Just use this gadget while wearing a full face of make-up and grinning by a swimming pool. Tah dah! You're instantly fit. No need to deny yourself. Drink this ancient tea, a global secret until yesterday, and melt away stubborn fat while you relax on your couch eating nacho chips.

We've all fallen for some of these products and services. We've all signed gym contracts that we never used. We've all hung clothes on bedroom treadmills. Yet, there's a tiny place in all of us that whispers: "It might work this time."

How to combat the whisper? Information! And here's a little sample to help get you started.

I don't care what the weight loss product or service is, behind every successful one is a caloric deficit. Period. Got a little bottle of supplements with a skinny girl on the label? Read the insert and you'll find a "diet and exercise plan" that sets up a caloric deficit. Got a gadget that "targets those abs" with a promise of a six pack? Again, the enclosed paperwork describes a sensible diet plan. Pre-packaged meals or shakes? Caloric restriction through healthy food selections and portion control. DVDs, books, CDs? Caloric deficit is in there somewhere. Even surgeries produce a caloric deficit. Sorry, but there's no escaping it. The trick is to pick what you can reasonably live with forever.

Fitness/strength gadgets are fine for motivation and fun - like stuff for abs, glutes and arms. But chances are they will not address your whole body. You can't hang on to a "shake weight" and expect your legs to shape up. You also can't walk around in "instability shoes" and expect to do better pushups. Depending on your goal, choose "tools" that align with it that also provide some motivation and fun. Maybe your money is better spent on music or new workout clothes? Or maybe you love that shake weight? It's all good as long as you reach your goal.

Gyms are fiercely competing for your membership. Low monthly fees, no start-up costs, discounted training - they are throwing some great deals at you. Visit a few places; don't commit to the first one you see. Talk to your friends - especially those that have enjoyed success. What is the total yearly cost? What does that include? What incentives are in place to make you want to join? How much is their personal training if you need extra help (cost per hour)? What are the credentials of the training staff? Is the facility and equipment safe, clean and well maintained? Do you feel that the staff is able to meet you where you are, not where they think you should be? You need to feel really comfortable with the environment. You want to look forward to going, not dreading it. The gym you choose will be getting a lot of your time. You want it to be a good fit.

Sift through the marketing hubbub. Choose what you enjoy, can reasonably and consistently do for a really long time (like forever), and can afford. You'll do great!

NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals as well as groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit


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