Updated: Aug 15
January 1st gyms are packed full of passionate resolutions, fitness goals and good intentions. In contrast, February 1st gyms look more like a ghost town. What happens inside of those 30 days? It can vary from person to person. But on some level it most likely involves not knowing what to do at the gym or how to eat properly.
As cliché as this may seem, as fitness professionals we see this cycle often. One of our busiest months of the year is February. Those who don't just give up, often look for a Personal Trainer in a private gym to help guide them in a more personable program.
But, if that's not in your budget right now, you don't necessarily have to hire a trainer to get and stay on track.
You need structure. If you are serious about getting healthy and achieving goals, it won't happen just because you want it. Developing and sticking to a good fitness program is essential to avoid becoming a member of the “ghost town” group of good intentions.
There’s a lot of information out there. Here we share five tips we use when coaching personal training clients. We have helped many individuals implement healthy lifestyle habits and mindsets, that are needed for long-term success.
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 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.
TIP: Clean it up slowly if necessary. 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. Find a plan that promotes functional body movements while preserving 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. Consider a wellness consultation with a personal trainer to discuss the right type of exercise for your body type and goals. If you’d rather go it alone, there are many online programs that are outlined for you.
TIP: Find a program that focuses on moving more and building lean muscle.
2) EMBRACE YOU
Don’t get sucked into the vast funnel of the world-wide web and the lies it sales on body image. Pictures and videos are altered and filtered - period. And at times completely changing the original appearance of the person. Don't stack your real body against fake images.
Choose a program and set your goals with the focus on getting healthy - because you love yourself. Focus on being fit because you want to active with your partner, children or grandchildren. Focus on feeding your body good nutrition because you want to have energy to live the life you love.
3) IT SHOULDN’T BE EXPENSIVE
Investing in a good health and fitness program is a good idea. Often, having someone or something guide you through transforming your lifestyle can be helpful.
Dieticians and nutritionist are great options. Personal trainers can be a great resource. Both can help you develop and sustain a healthy lifestyle right for you. But it should be with the goal to eventually be independent. Work with someone who will teach you how to eat healthy (rather than only be given a basic meal plan). And work with someone who will teach you how to exercise your body properly.
TIP: Eventually you should be able to eat healthy and exercise on your own if you choose. If they are not willing to teach you, but rather want to make you dependent on them for success, you may want to reevaluate who your working with.
Another expensive trap many programs include are expensive supplements. Our first concern is supplements should not replace actual food unless prescribed by a doctor. The best nutrients your body can receive is through whole foods and in all varieties. Secondly, because they can be quite expensive, it isn't practical long-term. Often when people stop using these supplements and eating normal food, they gain weight. Learn how to eat a balanced and healthy diet from the beginning of your program. You and your family will benefit.
4) DO YOUR RESEARCH
Any product or program with dramatic or even unrealistic promises is probably just that - unrealistic. Dig a little deeper than a few photos on a website before spending money.
Find programs that can provide testimonials of participants who sustained long term weight loss and / or health improvements they were after.
One shoe does not fit all, but the program you commit to should have a track record of success. This can help you feel confident you are not wasting time or money.
5) 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.
Referring back to avoiding extremes, if you come across a program with zero tolerance for food play or think you will just power through - you're likely to fail if your goals require any real length of time.
You will attend birthday parties, community events, vacations, holidays and date nights. Life is meant to be enjoyed and sometimes that does includes breaks from exercise and a more lax approach to food.
The difference in who is successful at fitness and who is not isn't an anomaly. Everyone takes breaks. The difference is in who jumps right back in as they return from vacation or the party is over etc. Yes, consistency is key. So when your on, be consistently on. When you have a planned event in your life and you've earned a little break - do so.