At the start of each new year, Facebook is full of funny gym memes. There are images of packed gyms in January with the contrasting ghost towns in February…. familiar jokes about deep and passionate hatred for cardio…. teasing about appointments to have jaws wired shut. As funny as these may be, as a fitness professional, I see the dangers in relating to them. Developing a plan for success is essential to achieve your goals and to avoid becoming a member of the “ghost town” group of good intentions.
Let’s break it down. You choose getting in shape as your resolution for a reason. Whether your pants are a little snug by the end of December, or you’ve needed to get healthy for a while – you feel motivated. You feel it’s important. You feel ready. You are ready. That’s good. That means you are starting with your mind right. You’re ahead of the game by acknowledging that you need to do something – perhaps you even need help. That recognition can honestly be the hardest part of your transformation. The next step is determining which approach is right for you.
There’s a lot of information out there. In this blog, I’ll share five healthful tips for choosing the right plan for you. I have both personally implemented, as well as helped many individuals implement healthy lifestyle habits, that are practical for the long haul. Regardless of which program you go with, you’ll want to ensure that the following applies:
1) AVOID EXTREMES
This is true for nutrition and exercise.
Any plan that dramatically cuts out any of your necessary macronutrients (protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats) is neither sustainable long term or healthy for your body. Instead, look for solutions that include lean protein, lots of vegetables and fruit, nuts and legumes and starchy complex carbs (on days you exercise). Remember, drastic changes in your food can be self-sabotaging. Clean it up slowly. It helps to think about what you “can” eat, rather than what you “can’t”.
The exercise plan you choose should not over train your body. Focus on moving more. Focus on building lean muscle. Find a plan that promotes functional body movement and preservation of joints and ligaments. That doesn’t mean you don’t get sweaty. Push yourself, but also listen to yourself. Everybody is a little different and at different fitness levels. You may want to have a wellness consultation with a personal trainer. If you’d rather go it alone – YouTube, Instagram and Facebook have lots of exercise routines available for free.
2) DRINK WATER
An adult body is made up of 60 % water. The human brain is made up of 85% water. With stats like this, it’s easy to see drinking enough H2O can have numerous positive effects. Water will smooth your complexion, boost your energy, improves brain function and control body temperature. While dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, muscle spasms, nausea and even death.
To determine the right daily water intake: Take your body weight, divide it in half – the number you are left with is how many ounces you should drink. EXAMPLE: If I weigh 120 lbs, I should drink 60 ounces of water each day.
3) EMBRACE YOU
Don’t get sucked into the vast funnel of the world-wide web and the lies it sales on body image. A quick Google research reveals all the ways pictures and videos are altered, at times completely changing the original appearance of the person. That isn’t real. That isn’t what you should try to become. Focus on getting healthy because you love yourself. Focus on being fit because you want to move better with your partner, children or grandchildren. Focus on eating clean because you want to have energy to live the life you love.
4) IT SHOULDN’T BE EXPENSIVE
I am not saying that investing into a health and fitness program isn’t a good idea. Often, having someone or something guide you through transforming your lifestyle can be very helpful. Dieticians and nutritionist are a great option. Personal trainers are great options. In both cases, they should be helping you learn how to sustain a healthy lifestyle long term and independently. They should know their stuff and feel confident you will give referrals. If you are not learning how to implement your diet and exercise - eventually on your own, you may want to reevaluate.
Programs that are structured only or primarily on supplements can also be a pitfall. They are usually very expensive and can be difficult to sustain long term (monetarily and lifestyle). Not to mention that supplements should be just that – a supplement to your food. Learn how to eat a balanced and healthy diet. You and your family can and should enjoy meals together.
5) DO YOUR RESEARCH
Any product with unrealistic promises is probably just that - unrealistic. Find programs that can provide testimonials of participants who sustained long term weight loss and / or gained the muscle they were working for. One shoe does not fit all, but the program you commit to should have had success with enough people to help you feel confident.
6) RELAX, PIZZA HAPPENS
That’s right, pizza will absolutely happen! Staying committed to your goals is good, but you need to look at things realistically when you're in it for the long haul. You will attend birthday parties, community events, vacations, holidays and date nights. If you find yourself in a moment of weakness (or choose to partake), jump back in as soon as you can. The important thing is that you continue to be committed to 90% clean food and daily exercise over a length of time. Consistency is key.