Around this time last year, I wrote an article with suggestions on enjoying a healthier, guilt-free holiday season. I published it right before Thanksgiving hoping to save a few extra pounds from being gained – hopefully some of you reaped the benefits of using those tips and have continued using them since!
This year, I’m going to cover New Year’s Resolutions. Now, I’m not talking about the resolutions where you decide to start taking out the trash regularly or being nice to others (as you should be doing this already). I’m talking about fitness resolutions – and if you haven’t said it, I know you’ve heard it: ‘This year I’m going to get in the best shape of my life’ or ‘this year I’m going to lose that baby weight’.
Let’s stop right there.
According to Forbes, only 8 percent of people stick with their resolutions for the whole year. If I were to take a guess on fitness-based resolutions, I would assume that less than 5 percent of those are fulfilled for an entire year. For many, the hardest concept to grasp is that winning your body back is a marathon, not a sprint. Just because we don’t see immediate results doesn’t mean we’re failing in regards to our workouts and nutrition. Some people simply take longer to adapt than others, and some may just need a slight tweak in their routine to start seeing the pounds shed. Below, I have provided a few tips that I hope will lead you towards the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
I have emphasized a couple of the tips, as they are a bit more important. However, if you can keep up with all of them, you are well on your way to achieving your goals. Remember: Just because I’m offering more tips this year doesn’t mean you can put the tips from last year on the back burner!
1. Body Weight First – As you read through this piece, at some point it may have crossed your mind that you would need to join a gym to start your journey. While you are on the right path with that thought, it should never be your first step if you are beginning a new workout program. Far too many times, a person’s first thoughts involve lifting weights or running on treadmills to climb into better shape. If you take one thing from this entire post, let it be this: if you are unable to lift your body weight with proper form, you probably aren’t ready to pick up any weights! There is no reason to load up the squat bar if we are unable to do a body weight squat without our knees shooting forward. Likewise, there is no reason to stack plates on the bench press if we can’t complete a push up without losing contraction of our spinal stabilizers. I always tell those who request workout plans to save their time and money by holding off on a gym membership until they’ve done a body weight program for 6 weeks first!
2. Up Your Food & Water – The most important thing that you have to realize when starting a training program is that you’re demanding a lot from your body. By forcing your muscles and bones to work harder than they ever have, you have to replenish your body with the right things! It starts with increasing your water intake before, during, and after exercise. I recommend drinking a bottle of water first thing in the morning. This will kick-start your metabolism and provide a jolt of energy by serving as your body’s ‘natural coffee’. As far as food goes, don’t just eat more – eat more of the right stuff. Just because you’ve started working out doesn’t mean you can reward yourself with ice cream every night. Remember this: weight is gained because of the foods that we eat. If we start working out but eat the same foods, we may not gain weight, but we definitely won’t see many physical improvements we strive for.
3. Sleep the Soreness Off – Your body will hurt for the first couple of weeks after starting a training program. Muscles will be sore, joints will ache, and it may take you a few extra seconds to sit down on the toilet after squats and lunges. All of this is normal, and I guarantee it will go away if you stick with your regimen. However, the one thing that needs to happen for your body to recover optimally is more rest! Nothing helps your muscles rebuild faster than resting – so workout, eat healthy, drink water, and sleep like a baby if you want to feel fresh enough to tackle tomorrow’s workout. If you are a beginner, eliminate the idea of two-a-days, as they will cause extreme amounts of fatigue leading to a loss of motivation for exercise.
4. Invest in Technology – There are so many fitness trackers and nutrition applications for your smartphones nowadays that it is almost impossible not invest in one. My favorite of the wearable devices is the Fitbit, which will track your body fat percentage, weight, and steps taken throughout the day. It also tracks your sleep pattern to ensure that you’re getting the proper amount of rest. With nutrition applications available on smartphones, you can log every meal eaten throughout the day, determine the percentage of calories coming from carbs, fats, and proteins, and have a visual to assist with making the right diet choices. As a start, try to reach 10,000 steps (which is the new fad right now), and invest in a pedometer to help get you there!