This is your year. It might even be the year that you can rip off that shirt and double for the guy on the cover of Men’s Health. Or something like that! I have seen some pretty remarkable body transformations during my time in this business. I have also seen my share of people come in gung-ho at the new year only to disappear a few days or weeks later. Don’t let that be you! Strategize now to create a workout program that fits your lifestyle, body type, likes and dislikes, and your goals. Find a workout that is going to keep you motivated, and then be prepared to change it up if your passion wanes. In the long term, you are not going to want to do the same exact thing over and over (nor would it keep giving you very good results).
Why is the workout-attrition rate so high by February? A lot of times it’s attributable to those setbacks, roadblocks and daily life obstacles that get in our way. But there are lots of people who successfully circumvent and conquer all these potential setbacks, so let’s plan on making you one of them by addressing these setbacks right now!
CREATING THE TIME
Time management is obviously a huge issue in everyone’s modern life. So, if you can, get your workout in first thing in the morning. That way it won’t fall by the wayside as your day fills up. This means you might need to get to bed a little earlier, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for most of us either. Once you get the workout in, pat yourself on the back and prepare for a more relaxed and energized day.
Also, as you are able, surround yourself with people who value their health in the same way you do. Encourage your significant other or spouse to prioritize their health and fitness as well. Then it becomes a mutual benefit and enjoyment, not something being misconstrued as selfish or self-serving. If it’s something you enjoy doing together, somehow that extra time might magically appear.
WHAT KIND OF WORKOUTS WORK?
The kinds of workouts you should do depend on what kinds of goals you have set for yourself. A gym is a very viable option for most men, as they seem to take naturally to some mode of strength training. Maybe the gym is all you need to stay motivated and fit for everything you like to do. Or maybe it’s just a place that allows you to cross-train and stay fit for whatever sports you like to do outside of the gym or on weekends. In this case, you will want to tailor your gym workouts according to your outside goals. But the gym is a great place to maintain fitness in order to do the other things you love on the weekends.
We’ve come a long way since old-school Nautilus gym training. Any good gym in town is going to be using cool new tools to train balance, agility, core strength, dynamic strength, flexibility and so on. The old paradigm of “back/biceps” day, “chest/triceps” day, et al., is based on the concept of muscular hypertrophy – loosely translated, breaking muscles down so they can begin building themselves up bigger than before. While this may be useful to a point, it is most likely dysfunctional when taken to the extreme. So, set goals that are realistic for your lifestyle and your personal proclivities. A lot of us will get bored with just working out so we can look good. Make it about more than that. If you don’t have any upcoming events, favorite sports or active trips that you want to specifically train for, think about “periodizing” your workout plan over the long term. Focus on strength for a while, then some more on agility, then on cardiovascular conditioning. There are always so many more things we can get better at.
ESTABLISHING YOUR WEEKLY WORKOUT CALENDAR
You don’t want to burn out, that’s for sure. Mix it up. Find some instructors you enjoy, some friends who want to do cool workouts with you, and some workouts that you actually want to do. Or hire a trainer to show you some new moves that are right for your needs. A trainer can also get you familiar with workouts specific to you and your goals. Or train in a group with some buddies. That’s a good way to make sure you will stick with it, and group training may help bring down the cost.
The important thing to remember is that you need to focus on health and fitness as things that will be a lasting part of your life. So set goals and make them as important as you would any other goal in your life. And then plan on changing the exact nature of those goals as the months pass. Maybe for a while you want to focus on cardiovascular fitness. You could take a couple of spin classes a week, or join a boot camp or a run group, or come participate in Pure Austin’s “Pure Running” butt-kicker in which we focus on sprints. Feel like you made some good cardio progress? Then maybe change your focus to strength training for a bit. Now your week would have more strength workouts, less time devoted to cardio. Got no time in the busy new year? Make the workouts about power: fewer reps, less time, but make the most of it. Always keep it interesting. And keep it up. You wouldn’t leave the house without brushing your teeth – even if you were really late for work. It should be the same for working out; you wouldn’t want to not do it, even if it means you are doing it faster than you would want to otherwise.
STICKING TO A HEALTHY DIET
Think simple. You’ve heard it all before, and if you want real change in your overall look and health then you need to stick to some sort of healthy diet. Consistently. Stick with basic foods and cut out the refined carbohydrates, the sugars and the extra breads. You will be amazed at how simple it can be if you just cut back the unnecessary junk and add in more healthy fruits, nuts, vegetables and proteins. Voila! Over time, this regimen works magic. And the draw of unhealthy food will weaken with time, I promise. It just stops making sense after a while.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It sounds cliché, but really the right time to prioritize your health is now. There is so much
research that proves both your health and overall performance can be improved with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Consistently maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program over the long term is going to keep you feeling (and looking) good a lot later in your life (and likely your whole life). There is no amount of fast-food rush, no alcohol buzz that is going to surpass the quality of feeling good, strong and healthy for years to come.