Here’s where we find trouble.
Nutrition needs a routine. And so does your training. When we blow off prepping food to go catch a band play (and enjoy a beer or two while we’re there, and a hot dog), it can lead to a slippery slope. Once the routine is broken a time or two, we struggle to get ourselves back on track, especially when it means going from burgers and dogs to something a little healthier. The nice part? Summer is over. School is back in session and its time to get back into the swing of things. Here are a few tips to help you start a fitness program that will bring you endless success:
I’ve seen it a million times. Something finally clicks for Suzy and she decides its time to make a change. Goal: Lose 20 lbs! With this newfound enthusiasm, Suzy buys a gym membership, starts weighing herself on the daily, and commits to salads and grilled chicken for the rest of their life. Sounds like a great plan right? Well, here’s how Suzy’s journey typically plays out:
On Monday, Suzy starts eating right (or at least what she thinks is right), working out, drinking more water, taking the stairs, etc. She keeps this up for a few days and is doing great until Thursday morning rolls around and she weighs in. Suzy hasn’t lost an ounce of weight. How could this be? She wonders. Discouraged, but vowing to continue on, she packs her salad for lunch and is ready to get back to action, only she runs into a snag at lunch. It’s her boss’s birthday so she feels obligated to have a piece of cake. Later, after her workout that night, she’s really tired and decides to stop at the fast food joint on the way home to grab dinner. Then, her favorite TV show is on and she can’t watch without popcorn and a coke. By 10 pm her day is ruined. Cake, dinner, and popcorn? All on top of the fact that she hadn’t lost an ounce of weight doing the right things for 3 whole days! Suzy decides that maybe this healthy thing isn’t for her. Besides, the weekend is coming up and she’s got a date Friday night and is going wine tasting on Saturday with the girls. Maybe she’ll just start again on Monday after enjoying the weekend….
Well, I think we all know how this story ends. Suzy may give another gung ho effort next week but will probably fail again. With each attempt she gets more and more discouraged, and less likely to ever try a fitness program again.
So what’s the solution? People are successful with fitness programs right? There is hope?
Well of course! Here are some ways to find success when starting a program to get healthy. These tips will not only help you get started, but allow you to see continued success and see your goals through.
1. Get a coach. Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson. Aristotle had Plato. Rocky had Mickey. We all need someone to tell us what to do. Find someone who has a proven track record. They should have numerous testimonials of people like you, that have had success. A coach will keep you accountable, help you stay motivated, and most importantly, show you how to get success. Fast.
2. Resist the urge to go all in right away. If you haven’t been successful before, doing what Suzy did and making numerous changes in your daily routine (and life) right off the bat will most likely cause you to crash and burn. Maybe the first week you spend a day or two on the fitness side of things, and 3 days of dedicated nutrition days. Other than that, life goes on as it would have the week prior. Each week, continue to build on your habits and create a better routine. We only have so much free will in a day. If we overload ourselves with too many things that drain that free will, like new nutrition and fitness habits on top of the all the other stresses that already exist, it makes it harder to succeed. Build this free will up over time and you’ll be on the road to success.
3. Be patient. This takes TIME. Remember, you’re choosing a healthier life and looking for long-term success, not a quick fix. Don’t expect any results for the first few weeks. If they come, consider them a bonus. Throw out the scale for the first month or two. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, don’t get too excited on losing 10 in the first month. That’s the easy part. It’s the last few pounds that are always the hardest. Games are won in the fourth quarter! Focus on the score at the end of the game, not the end of the first half.
4. Find a plan that’s right for you. There’s more than 1 way to skin a cat. I’ve helped numerous clients hit their goals and no two have done it the same way. Everyone’s nutrition habits are different. People’s bodies respond in different ways to the same stimulus. What might work for one person may be an awful tactic for another. To find the plan that’s right for you, talk to your coach. If one approach isn’t working, he or she should have ideas on different things to try if you run into any roadblocks (and yes there will be roadblocks). This is where that persistence we talked about in the last section comes into play. Your health is important. Don’t give up on it.
5. Become a part of a community. We are a product of our environment. If you can’t find a friend or two who are as committed to your health goals as you are, find someone who is! Talk to people at the gym. Join a group class, or even better, join a gym that does group personal training or semi-private training. You’ll immerse yourself in a community of like-minded people that will support you and your goals. Let’s face it. Sometimes our family and friends are our worst enemies when we are trying to make positive changes in our lives. Seek out others who are in the same boat as you are. Odds are they have run into some of the problems you’ve faced and vice versa. Build strength in numbers.
6. Find your routine. It’s different for everyone, but the better you are at planning your routine and sticking to it, the more success will come your way. Sunday and Wednesday night might be your meal plan times. An hour or two dedicated to meal prep for the next few days. Saturday and Tuesday are for stocking up on groceries. Monday, Thursday and Friday are workout days. That’s 8 hours a week dedicated to your long, prosperous life ahead. Don’t have time for that? Stop watching Breaking Bad and House of Cards and you’ll be good to go. And delete the Facebook app from your phone. You will miraculously have all kinds of time on your hands on top of looking and feeling better. Make a routine, and follow it. Consistency is key.
7. Clean out the junk. This should probably be #1 on the list. If it’s not in your house, you can’t eat it. Nuff said. Your kids and husband will survive without the Oreos and cheese whiz. Don’t make that your excuse. Start with a clean slate by going through your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer and throwing away anything that may de-rail your goals.
8. Have fun! This should not feel like torture. If it ever does, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll brainstorm and figure something out. Exercise is addicting. Having people complement how great you look feels good! This should be a wonderful journey. No one ever said it had to be filled with bad tasting food and hours on the treadmill (Kill me now!). Will it take hard work? Yes. Are you going to run into obstacles? Most definitely! Will it be worth it? I sure think so. Which leads me to my last point…
9. Control your own destiny. A coach is there to steer you down the right path and give you the tools you need to succeed: what to eat, how to train, what foods to avoid, etc. Your family and friends are there for support. They pick you up when you’re down and help you problem solve along the way. But none of these people can do things for you. Your coach can’t go home with you and wait in the kitchen all night making sure you don’t make a midnight dash for the cookies. The police won’t come and take you away if you skip out on the gym for two weeks. The choices you make and the routines that become your lifestyle are up to you to decide. Each day, you are either moving one step closer or one step further from your goals.