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10 Ways to Help Keep Your Fitness Goals and New Years Resolutions From Falling Apart
-Adam Shed, Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainer
In my life, I have been an underachiever in many ways but staying on task with my fitness goals is one thing I have been relatively successful at. There are reasons that I think I have done better at this than the average bear and I will state them here. 10 ways to keep your fitness goals are only my opinion of course so I will love to hear your response and what has worked for you. Complacency kills so I have to remember that I still have a lot of room for improvement so I will hopefully learn something from the responses I get.
I will get straight to it rather than go off on a philosophy tangent here. These are just what come to the top of my mind without doing a lot of Google searching for ideas.
My Top 10 List From the Top of My Head
1. Look at your overall life goals and arrange your life around the A.C.S.M., (American College of Sports Medicine) exercise recommendations.
The first unfair advantage I can think of having come from my dad. He was a bodybuilder in his 20s and set state records and then was also named Mr. Sooner one year. He then went into health care as an Optometrist. As an optometrist, he sees the effects of inactivity and a poor diet every day in retinal photos where you can see damage to the vessels of the eye. It occurs a lot of course with patients that have lifestyle caused conditions, like diabetes, which are affecting their eyes. He was already very mindful but this keeps the conversation going every day for him. When we talk on the phone it is a typical topic of conversation.
This week he was telling me we need to do something with our knowledge to help people more than we are. He suggested maybe writing a book but also stated that most of it doesn't have to be so wordy as doctors put it. Maybe this is why patient's aren't getting it. The dialogue needs to be simple, which is why I like the ACSM guidelines I linked to above. According to them you simply block off 3-5 days a week of cardiovascular exercises such as jogging or walking at least 20-30 minutes at a time and the same frequency and time for resistance training like lifting weights. My dad raised me by himself through my teenage years and he took me to workout almost every day. He made it fun too, paying for Triathlon fees and nice gym memberships and then getting my a$& up to go do it.
First Things First-
Stephan Covey wrote a book called First Things First which I read ages ago, in the late 90's. A lot of it was the typical BS used to fill a book and have something to sell in my opinion but he said a one really smart thing. If you are going to put sand and a rock in a jar, you have to put the rock in first and the sand can fill in around it. It is the same with your schedule. People and jobs will come and go in your life but your body will be what you work with every day until we are downloadable into new bodies. You have to block it into your schedule. An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure; you will slow down the aging process and ensure that you are able to do what you want when you want and enjoy it more. Remember that when making your schedule.
2. Keep on Measuring and Assessing where you are in Relation to Your Goals
When I worked at LA Fitness as a personal trainer they were really good at staying on top of this. Most people who came to me there were looking to lose weight, specifically fat. They had this formula which they still use. The number of calories they say are in a pound of fat are debatable. I looked it up on Google and the first thing that came up was this.
A pound is equivalent to 453.592 grams, and 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. Therefore 453.592 grams per pound*9 calories per gram of fat= 4082.328 calories per pound
This is according to http://www.answers.com/Q/How_many_calories_does_it_take_to_gain_1_pound
Burning Calories at Rest
At LA fitness, they had me saying 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. I would also inform clients that every pound of muscle gained burns 50 calories per day at rest. They had me remind people what rest is by asking them what they do. Do you watch TV? So you are burning more calories just doing that! Then I would say that you could expect to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week if you stay very disciplined and focused. Supposing you add 10 pounds of muscle, you would be burning 500 calories a day at rest just keeping the muscle fed. Multiply that times 7 days and that's 3500 calories a week which equals 1 pound of fat just for putting on the muscle!
Keeping Your Eyes On the Prize
Now, I think there are some estimations here and I think I am remembering everything correctly but you get the idea. This gives you a goal and trajectory you can track. On the intercom at LA Fitness, they used to always say, "What Gets Measured Gets Improved". There is a lot of truth in this, besides it making them money when people got their free assessment, the monitoring is an important part of keeping your mind in the game. There is evidence to support this.
Here is an analogy using radar guns to deter speeding. Elon Musk says not to think by analogy but maybe this is less analogy than another example of the same phenomenon playing out. When radar signs were put up along roads showing how fast drivers are going drivers not only slowed down but maintained a slower speed. We are horrible at perceiving how we are doing as conflicting goals push their way into our heads. This article demonstrates their evidence if you need to know more about this.
Keeping An Eye On Medical Lab Numbers
If you have goals including measurements from your yearly physical like I do for my cholesterol know how to see your numbers. My doctor now has a portal I can sign into that stores my lab data in case I need to reference it. There are also apps which I will mention below. My doctor told me I need to work out more and eat fewer carbs.
3. Have Multiple Options For your Workout
We have memberships both at a climbing gym and an Anytime Fitness. I get tired of the same ol' same ol' as anyone would and we have several options. Sometimes the young, power-tripping employees who gyms often employ can get annoying so we go to other gyms. I have also complained to management and seen them gone after when it was too much. You don't have to spend as much money as we do, of course. If you are a runner and don't mind being that skinny you don't need much of anything. We live by a running trail and you can use apps that show you running trails near you. They are often beautiful and inspiring and a great respite from the rat race of a city.
Some Simple Options We Came Up With In Our Own Neighborhoods
My dad always makes routes in neighborhoods that equal the distance he wants to run on a regular basis. Usually 4 miles for him. There was an article in Outside magazine several years ago that I really loved about the adventure is all around us if we are creative and know how to spot it. It is called Paddling the Mighty Santa Fe River and just talked about how this tiny river was really high one year and you could actually kayak it when usually you wouldn't.
When I met my wife and we started to get serious I realized one negative was that she was not a fitness person. I asked her what she likes to do that is active and she said white water rafting. We were in Dallas, Texas so this was not looking good. I kept an open mind though and believe it or not, we were doing it before we knew it. I found a website called americanwhitewater.org and it shows all the creeks and rivers near you that you can paddle. It also uses USGS gages and shows a green light when the water levels are right. We have had a blast using this.
Below is a video to show what I mean, this creek was right down the street from our condo and when it rained it was rid-able. We got an inflatable kayak rated for class 3 rapids from Amazon and pulled it off even though my paddle broke and eventually the boat and we need to order a new one. We did it enough we got our money's worth out of that thing 🙂 My dad used to bail hay and make money and get a great workout at the same time, throwing square bails in the back of a pickup truck while running behind it. Be creative, having more options means you are more likely to have one that sounds good on that particular day and variety is good for muscle symmetry and working the different systems, cardiovascular, strength, balance, coordination, etc.
4. Reward Yourself for Staying on Track!
When my wife and I go out for a rock climbing trip or to the gym we pay attention and complement each other when we do good. I had this little boy I used to see for physical therapy in Dallas. We were working on walking without an assistive device like crutches or his walker. He was so cute and would have a little mini-celebration when he walked 5 or 6 steps without his walker or anything by saying, "YaY!" in a little 1950s telephone operator voice. I can imitate it pretty well and do it when my wife conquers a hard route at the climbing gym and she almost falls off the wall from laughing.
Another thing we like is going for a cheap couples massage when we have worked hard and are aching all over. If you call around you can get a good price on a combo package ½ hour foot massage and ½ hour body massage at an Asian foot massage place and they let you go together at a lot of places. It's a fun activity for friends as well, we have gone to the climbing gym and then dinner and for a massage after with friends. The massage and food are better received by the body after hard work which increases the reward value.
5. Build a Supportive Community
Speaking of the last example of working out with friends and then going to dinner and massage, you have to have the community of people like we have to enjoy it with. If you are not as lucky as I am with a stellar dad, you can still build your own fitness family. We are in a Facebook group called Adventure Time, which is just climbers who go to our climbing gym, Inspire Rock Climbing In Houston.
Our friend in Dallas would regularly invite us over to hit boxing mitts. There is an app called boxing timer and you can make a day out of it by doing 10, 3-minute rounds each and then go for lunch somewhere. Really fun. Our adventure groups have also taken lots of activity based trips in which we split the cost of travel and camping facilities. It has also been the easiest way to make close friends. Something about adventures can bond people from way different walks of life and there is no pressure like you have with co-workers.
6. Get a Certifications, Start a Blog, Teach a Fitness Class or Start a Meetup
One of the best pieces of advise I got was from a high school classmate I used to see at triathlons. He told me to go get the Cooper Institute Personal Trainer Certification if for no other reason than to know how to take care of myself. If I had not gotten that piece of advice I probably wouldn't be doing what I am doing for a living. It led to jobs that led to other jobs and certifications and so on including this blog entry of course.
I paid it forward by telling some of the participants in my water fitness classes that they knew everything I did and might want to consider teaching. They did great and apparently just needed that kind of encouragement. It keeps you accountable because you have to be there on a schedule. You build community, some of my best friends that I talk to weekly are because of these classes I taught.
Blogging, like I am doing now, also forces you to be mindful, give credit to people who have helped you along the way and maybe go back and remember key measures like I did for the LA fitness math for losing fat. The Professor of Public Health and author from Harvard, Atul Gawande recommends blogging at least 15 minutes at a go regularly. It makes you research and stays mindful and you do get better if you do those things. He has written several books on performance improvement in medicine. I read them all. I love his writing for better or for worse. We obviously blog here at healthythairecipes.com. Here is a link to his book, Better.
I do a meetup for WordPress, the platform this blog is written on and I always learn by teaching first and then reminding everyone I am here to learn as much as to share. Meetups from Meetup.com are informal and we have made close personal friends through them. They are often free and include fitness versions like running, yoga or whatever you can think of.
Use or create Airbnb experiences
In October, we went to Mexico City for the Dia De Los Muertos, celebration. I chose the running tour for our experience. It was AMAZING! We became good friends with the guide. We felt safer and learned more. Besides just being tourists, we had a piece of mind that we were doing the tour while staying in shape. Buses of people were going by us sitting on their fat butts and hearing a voice through a loudspeaker with no control if they wanted to stop. We were able to customize our tour and I am now helping our guide on her website at mexicorunningtours.com. We plan on going again in a few months.
7. Use checklists and apps that do some of the planning work
Using a simple app like keep or Evernote' you can keep notes on your progress. My fitness pal, Cardiotrainer, and 5x5 Stronglifts are also good to help you keep track of your workouts. You can sync many of these apps with the google fit app at least for a few to make a database of all your fitness data. There are more coming out all the time.
8. Make it Easier by Having Everything you need at any given time
I mentioned earlier that you can have more options but you will also want to keep everything you need available. I told my wife I would like to have two gym bags. One to be recharging with new clean gym clothes and one in my car. This way I can stop at the gym on my way home. Furthermore, I can save time or be opportunistic in other ways. You can keep some protein bars in the bag and maybe something for immediate energy in case you are tired.
9. Don't neglect your diet and hydration
I have spoken a lot on here about ways to stay compliant with exercise. Yes, exercise is a big part of the equation, but diet is at least as big a part of it. It is the exercise and busy gyms at New Years that gets all the attention, but the diet should be just as pronounced. We keep our fridge stocked with Powerade zero to keep staying hydrated more attractive. We line them up under the light in rows according to their color and it is kind of beautiful. I think it helps. Following our blog and other healthy eating blogs do a similar thing for keeping your mind in the right place.
1o. Follow Inspiring Figures on Social Media
Speaking of keeping inspiring things in front, following inspiring fitness gurus seems to inspire healthier habits. These people tend to do better with their own fitness goals. I follow guys of a similar age to myself like, The Rock, Mark Walberg and Mario Lopez. Find some people you relate to and who do it for you. Then fill your social media feeds with their inspiration and ideas.
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