Sticking to Those New Year's Resolutions on a Budget
Did your pets overindulge during the Month of Giving? Are those new wearables you bought them a little too tight? On the last day of the year it is traditional for Neopians to make Resolutions for the New Year ahead, generally involving things like doing more exercise and not eating all the Advent Calendar prizes as soon as you get them next year.
However, those ideas, which seemed so achievable on the 31st, have often become a struggle after the first week. This isn't helped when, as they fumble for the alarm on a dark, cold winter morning to go and do some exercise, a glance at the calendar mockingly shows that this is the month of Sleeping.
Another reason many give for letting things slip is the lack of affordable facilities – since the closure of Grundo's Gym there is nowhere for the average Neopian to go and keep fit. Of course the wealthy can check their Neopets into the Neolodge where they can enjoy the 5-star facilities of the Fitness Centre, Jacuzzi/Spa, Swimming Pool, Tennis Courts and Sauna. But if you spent a little too much on gifts and treats over the festive season the Neolodge is likely to be out of your reach. The same can be said of the Island Training School and the Pirate Academy. Even if you have a few Codestones and Dubloons saved up, these fabled institutions can be intimidating for those who are used to a more sedate lifestyle. Your pets may simply want to shift a little weight and feel a bit healthier rather than wishing to train enough to challenge in the Battledome. Seeing models of physique strutting around the place might be inspiring to some, but most simply feel out of place.
In the early years after Grundo's was closed down, the slowly expanding waistline of the average Neopian was less noticeable, but this all changed when clothes became Wearable. So if your pets are finding things a bit of a squeeze, read on to find out about my methods to help all Neopians get fit and healthy, no matter the size of their bank balance.
This is the best place to start as a healthy diet is the basis for any well-rounded exercise regime. Note I said a healthy diet, not one of the latest fads such as encouraging your Neopet to enter the Deserted Tomb in the hopes they get stuck and have to slim down before they can escape. You are much more likely to feel like exercising after eating fresh, healthy foods than if you've been filling up on fatty, sugary foods. Of course ideally we would all be running off to visit the Health Frog and stocking up on fresh fruit and veg but Neopian inflation makes this something of a luxury. Thankfully Neopia is full of places where you can eat for free and as long as you choose carefully these foods can be healthy as well.
For breakfast why not have a go on the Tombola: Admittedly some of the Tombola prizes are pretty disgusting but several of them are good for you. A nice bowl of Wheat Flakes or some Baked Beans in the morning will keep you feeling full until lunch. The Dried Apricots and Prunes are ideal as snacks to keep you going mid-afternoon whilst a Tin of Sardines provides a quick and easy meal.
For lunch, pay a visit to the Giant Omelette: Omelettes are actually quite good for you – they are rich in protein, which will help you feel full and being baked in the sun is a low-fat cooking method. Just make sure to stick to the vegetable options (Carrot and Pea, Tomato, Green Pepper etc) rather than the Cheese and Meat versions. Of course the Chocolate and Marshmallow varieties are to be eaten only on occasion.
If you are really low on Neopoints, it is well worth stopping by the Soup Kitchen for your evening meal. Here you can fill up with a nutritious bowl of soup without feeling like you are depriving yourself. Alternatively there are some more exciting options - over recent years several new lands have been discovered and their cuisine has filtered through to the dinner tables of Central Neopia. These meals are often based around vegetables and can be a great way to eat healthy but interesting foods. Whilst they can be expensive to buy they are sometimes given out as prizes; solving the Neggbreaker Puzzle can earn you foods such as a Fruit and Vegetable Hand Roll or Negg Noodles whilst if you complete the Altador Plot you can visit the Council Chamber every day for a reward which may be a tasty plate of Hero Gyro or a loaf of Ionic Bread (perfect for those Baked Beans). As a bonus, working those brain cells in order to solve the puzzles is going to burn a few calories as well.
The key to enjoying a healthy diet is variety – don't offer the same thing every day. Instead of giving your pets Tombola prizes for breakfast why not try winning a piece of fresh fruit from the Fruit Machine. A trip to the Underwater Fishing cavern can result in a haul of different fish that will surely appeal to your pets' tastebuds and make a change from omelette for lunch. Mix things up and keep it interesting and don't forget that it's fine to have a treat now and again.
Your pets may prefer to start exercising in the privacy of your Neohome until they are feeling a little more confident. Before beginning any exercise it's important for them to stretch their muscles and warm up, this will help to prevent injuries as well as getting them in the right frame of mind. After that they could start with a bit of jogging on the spot, throwing in a few star jumps, push-ups and lunges to keep things interesting. If you have a first floor in your Neohome encourage them to walk briskly up and down the stairs (check with your builder that the stairs will cope if they are a larger pet such as an Elephante or a Grarrl), perhaps taking them two at a time or use the bottom stair as a stepper. What you are looking to do is to get the blood pumping so a good rhythm is helpful to set the pace. Try putting on the latest Chomby and the Fungus Balls CD - even if they aren't up to a full aerobics routine a good dance around is still brilliant exercise. Build things up slowly, adding a few more repetitions as things get easier. You can even use some of those tins of Baked Beans from the Tombola Guy as weights – either held in the hands/paws or strapped to the ankles. After a while your pets should be feeling more comfortable and confident about exercise and should be ready to face the outside world. Start off with a few brisk walks perhaps working towards jogging around the neighbourhood or swimming a few lengths of the nearest pool/lake/sea on a regular basis. The best way to encourage them to stick with it is to find something that they enjoy, which leads us nicely on to the final section.
For some pets the end result of feeling better and being able to fit into that new wearable will be all the motivation they require to embrace a healthy diet and regular exercise; for others it is more of a challenge. To encourage your more reluctant pets you need to work out what motivates them.
If your Neopet has a competitive streak encourage them to try out team games such as Tug of War, Gormball and Yooyuball. Their drive to win will make them want to train more, and the elation when they do win will help make exercise fun rather than a chore. Being part of a team can also help as everyone encourages each other. Or if your pet is competitive but less of a team player an individual event like the 200m Peanut Dash or Cheeserolling may be the sport for them.
For a Neopet with an interest in finance there are several activites that bring a monetary reward. The Employment Agency is one option to encourage them to get fit – if they want to be rewarded for their efforts they need to get back in time. The same goes for the other various Quests on offer, often the quicker your pet returns the greater the reward. Perhaps you could offer to pay for the items needed (up to a point) and they can claim the rewards. Introduce your pet to the Coconut Shy and Test Your Strength and they will have a reason to work on building those muscles. Or take them to the Forgotten Shore to train and the possibility of finding treasure will put a spring in their step as they take a long walk along the sands.
Last but not least,
You may not be able to afford the Spa and Sauna at the Neolodge, but that doesn't mean you can't help your pets relax after their exertions. A trip to the Healing Springs will help soothe those aching muscles and restore their strength for the next day.
Hopefully this article will help you encourage your pets to stick to their New Year's Resolutions long enough to enjoy the benefits. Whether they discover a hidden talent at a certain sport or simply look forward to their morning stroll a healthier lifestyle will help you and your pets enjoy many more New Year's celebrations together.