Off and Running


This your year for sticking to those New Year’s resolutions to get healthy. Pure Austin Fitness trainer Laura Ball provides some guidance on how to combat the most common exercise excuses and set some healthy goals in the new year.

New Year’s resolutions get such a bad rap. Whatever you resolve to do becomes the one thing everyone (including yourself) expects won’t get done! Your new resolutions for this year are going to bear the brunt of all those years of resolutions that did not see the end of January. But you must have made some successful resolutions too, even if they took more than one year to stick.

Getting in shape, losing weight, going to the gym every day before (or after) work definitely top the list of resolutions most people make. And for some people, these may be resolutions that don’t quite get achieved. But this year, this will not be you! Because you are going to have a plan, defined goals, and you are going to be ready for the self- or otherwise- imposed roadblocks or setbacks that might come your way.

Fitness, good health and ripped abs are not going to magically appear overnight. They are the markers of consistency over time. And as long as you are living, you have time. Needing to prioritize the health and care of your body is not something that ever stops. You can’t successfully ignore your body! That’s a recipe for disaster, in the short or long term. So set some realistic goals, and create some good, viable long-term habits that will help you realize these goals. That’s where good health starts. Small changes over the long term create big results.

So, what’s going to get in between you and the new, healthier, more fit, better version of yourself? Nothing! The most common setbacks we hear as trainers are time, money, diet, the I-don’t-like-gyms mentality, and needing some specif- ic goals. Here’s the best way to tackle those setbacks:

TIME. When to workout? My experience is that you should fit in your workout as soon as you can in the morning. As the day progresses, time seems to slip away. As a trainer, I’ve noticed that my evening clients always seem to have issues that may drag them away from their workouts. Getting it done as soon as you can in the morning seems to be the best way to make sure it gets done. However, I am personally not an early morning person. I am always running late after I wake up. So, I workout whenever I can during the day, and this might be a more viable solution for you too.

Everyone can find the time to workout. I have trained many successful, high-powered executives who would not miss a single workout. My opinion is that their fitness helps them function with more energy and efficacy in all aspects of their lives. This case is similar for many parents I train. We all know that CEO and mom of two who STILL finds time for the gym or a good workout a few times a week. If they can do it, you can too. We owe it to our children to be healthy and active for as long as possible.

If the most you can fit in is a 25-minute workout, then make it a 25-minute workout that counts. You will easily spend twice that amount of time obsessing about not looking good in your jeans if you skip it too often. Those 25-minute workouts add up to a lot over time. I can get in a good gym workout in less than 30 minutes. I think about what I want to focus on before I get to the gym, sometimes write it down, and then get to work!

MONEY. If money is tight, there are lots of free ways to get your workout on in Austin. There are the obvious ones – Town Lake, the Greenbelt – and some that might take a little more creativity. The next time you’re feeling strapped for cash but need a good workout, give these options a try:

Stair repeats at Mt. Bonnell. You will be rewarded with tight thighs and a nice view. Or find a hill in your neighborhood and alternate running with walking lunges as you make your way up the incline. Do three sets, then add some lateral squats or “curtsy” squats in place for one minute. Repeat three to four times.

Grab an exercise (elastic) band and take it on your next run or walk. They are light and so versatile. Every mile or half-mile, stop and wrap that band around a tree, and do some squats with a back row. If you have a friend with you, have her hold the band down low behind you as you do tricep presses overhead. Or if you have a “full circle” band, put it around your ankles and do 10 side steps keeping your feet hip-width apart or wider the whole time, then switch directions. Take a “break” by standing on one leg, and kicking the other leg out behind you – this is some great glute work. Trust me, we live in Austin – the passersby have all seen weirder looking stuff!

When it comes to gyms, be realistic about what is right for you and what you will actually use. Don’t join a gym that is cheaper that you’ll never go to because you don’t like it. Many chain gyms operate under a model that supposes you will do just that. Personally, I know there are certain things I value which I will spend money on, and other times cheap is just fine. I want my gym workout experience to be clean, pleasant, feasible and motivating. So find a gym environment that makes you happy, some instructors who inspire you, or a workout buddy who will keep you motivated to get out there and mix things up – for the short and the long term. Invest the time in finding some cute clothes that you are happy to workout in.

DIET. Diet is key. Truly. Any fitness specialist giving you advice on looking better is going
to cite some statistic of how looking good is “80 percent diet, 20 percent fitness” or some variant thereof. For the most part, this is true. Also true is that if you are active and in good shape with your metabolism functioning like it should, small slip-ups in diet are not going to derail you. Hopefully you won’t need to micro-manage your diet to such a great extent if you are in a good exercise program. But if you are just controlling your weight via diet, it’s going to be a more regimented, difficult and slow process to see change.

“I DON’T LIKE GYMS.” Well, I don’t like most gyms either! But honestly, the idea of the gym as a haven for the “meathead” is a little outdated. Yes, the ‘80s were rife with men in elastic-waisted pants and wife-beater tanks intimidatingly grunting on some sweaty machine set to an egregiously heavy weight. Luckily, we are moving past that at most gyms. Oh yeah, and most people are too busy worrying about themselves to be staring at you. So don’t be intimidated by the gym for these reasons, honestly.

GOALS. Many of us might just be subconsciously limited by our own creativity and ability to set goals. So what are some reasonable first steps? Most of us can start by increasing cardiovascular health and adding some muscular strength. Women are going to benefit so much from increased muscle strength – it increases your metabolism, which means over time you are not only becoming leaner, but again, micro-managing your diet becomes less of an issue. And for cardiovascular health, 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week is going to be a good start. You can build off that. And once you are in shape, staying in shape becomes a lot easier. So if that five pounds creeps on somehow, you have the ability and the skills to creep it back off.

In summary, happy new year! This should be the best year for your health and fitness yet. Find somewhere you are happy sweating it out. Do things you enjoy with people you enjoy. Setting goals is key! Small steps over time lead to long-term success. We are lucky to live in a city that promotes a great active lifestyle and is teeming with people that make health a priority. So the new year can be your time to set some new, realistic goals. Once you start pushing the edge, you’re going to keep on pushing, and a few new years from now you can look back and marvel at how far you have come.