By Stephen Freeman
Spring is here and summer is around the corner. That means it’s about that time to pull out those shorts, t-shirts, skirts, tanks, and yes, even the dreaded swimsuit. For those of us not feeling quite up to par, let’s take advantage of the next few months and set some short term goals. Let’s say from now until august. That gives us a little over four months to hit our goal. So what’s next? Well, just like everything else in life, you will have the best odds for success if you have a plan. Without a plan you will likely be derailed by the many obstacles that life loves throwing our way. First you need to decide what kind of person you are. Do you find more success in the things you do when you work alone and on your own evolving regimen, or do you find motivation in working with others that have similar goals? You might say that you work well both ways. I think I work best alone, but don’t mind occasionally working out with a partner or group. I used to be a partner kind of person and not that there is anything wrong with that, but if that is the only way you can stay motivated, then you need to work with someone who is as serious and as dedicated as you are. And although you’re friend may very well be as dedicated as you are, the chances of the two of you holding each other accountable for a long period of time will diminish as things like, work, school, relationships, and children come into play. This is why you must plan on pursuing your goal knowing that things will constantly be changing.
Always plan for the worst and you will be two steps ahead of the game. If your workout partner gets sick or decides he or she just isn’t in the mood, well guess what, you had already planned that if he/she canceled on you then you were going to do a workout that you love and your partner isn’t too fond of. That’s the beauty of counting only on yourself; only you can let yourself down. Now, if motivation comes through working with others and you have a gym membership, then going to group classes is always a great idea. There’s a slim chance that they ever get canceled because it’s their job to be there and have them as scheduled. Just be sure to take classes that work towards your goal and that you enjoy. We’ll talk more about this later. Now let’s be specific about your goals.
Here are two of the most common goals I hear from people:
1. I want to lose weight.
(Weight is a term loosely used, but what people truly mean by this is that they are trying to reduce the percentage or amount of fat in their body. The idea of literally jumping on a scale and being excited about weighing a few pounds less than last time is truly absurd. Personally, I vary in weight between 5-6 pounds on a daily basis. Dehydration, water retention, type and quantity of food consumed, supplements, bowel movements, and even when and what type of workout you did are all big factors in what you weigh. This is one of the reasons I tell my clients to ignore the scale and focus on how their clothes fit and how their bodies look and feel.)
2. I want to increase muscle mass and/or tone up.
(This statement, to some extent, is contradicting itself. Increasing muscle requires a certain diet and workout regimen, as does everything else, but in almost every circumstance the individual will either gain a small percentage of body fat or at the very least maintain the body fat they started with. When people say they want to tone up they want to increase or make visible the lines and shadows that are created by the different muscle groups, such as the abs. In order to achieve this, you must decrease your body fat percentage, while trying to maintain the muscle you already have. In almost all cases, you will lose some muscle and the strength that comes with it. In essence when you say you want to tone, you would really fall under goal #1 which is to reduce body fat percentage).
What goal do you fall under? For the larger majority it’s goal #1 and that is why my next entry will cover the basics of achieving this. Until then, I want you to begin by cutting all simple sugars from your diet. This includes all white breads, pastries, donuts, sodas, cakes, and limit pasta intake. Eat 100% whole grain breads and pastas, but still limit the quantities. If you don’t already follow a cardio routine begin by walking at a moderate to fast pace 3-5 times per week for a minimum of 30 min. This should hold you off until next time. Good luck! Remember, if you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right.