On the road to the New Year, we all look ahead to better days, prominent results and in short, happiness. And as self-indulgence holds court in its final few days before giving way to self-discipline following New Year’s, we dare to dream, and surely, this is a beautiful thing. By next year we promise ourselves a tighter waistline, a firmer chest, less unwanted flesh to grab by our loved ones from our lower backs, and the body we promised ourselves last year will finally be delivered.
Indeed, when the calendar strikes,“1-1-New Year”,many of us do start off quite strong in running toward our goals, but for too many, the season of change starts late. In the first week of 2011, my gym was nearly empty. Save for the grunting and groaning of some very hung-over clients and trainers, it seemed many were still feeding off the residual fumes of 2010. As for yours truly, while I did not train on the first of January, (it having fallen on a Saturday), I was back in full force come that Monday, the 3rd.
Following the holidays as I was reunited with clients, friends and peers alike, many took an interest in my “new- found size.” “Steroids?” they queried. “Uh, no. Try copious Colorado omelets from IHOP with a stack of chocolate chip pancakes upgraded from regular and complete with a smiley face, thank you very much!” And so, while the extra holiday weight is nearly gone, as of this writing, there exists other challenges, for I see too much in the name of resolutions already waning.
Sure there’s the occasional neophyte stray runner who seems to lose more breath with each thud. Or the office worker, who come New Year, made the sacrifice in an early rising to complete his or her workout for the day thusly insuring its completion. The stay-at-home, whom tosses anything in the name of guilt into the trash thereby making a craving and indulgence necessitate a trip and all its steps (shower, hair, driving, etc.) out rather than a simple opening of the fridge. But these workout warriors are unfortunately few and non-representative of us as a whole.
But exactly what is it that causes our resolutions to die harder than a Tourist sequel? Perhaps, subconsciously words like, “diet”, “skinny”, “commitment”, and of course, "resolution”, are too high an undertaking, often meaning, or implying, long-term, definitive or quite simply, out of reach. More friendly and realistic substitutes, such as “lifestyle”, “lean”, “consistency” and “ritualistic”, might help make the journey more palatable, and in turn, actually lead somewhere.
While I still firmly believe that one’s results are contingent on three main components: resistance training, (to firm and strengthen muscle tissue), cardiovascular activity, (to use stored adipose as fuel), and nutrition, (to power the human machine), there may be a bit more to it. Why, for so many, are resolutions like a shooting star? Why come the 1st do they fly with the best of them only to fizzle out into obscurity rather than shine with brilliance the longer they remain in both time and motion?
Not only do I want each and every one of you to achieve YOUR desired level of results, I’d love to see these seemingly foreign persons with their complimentary one week passes hogging the incline press and smith machine (with no idea how to use them) every January, be well- versed in technique and sporting an annual pass to their favorite gym come December!
What follows are my top 10 list of do’s, and don’ts, concerning running with and maintaining the course that is resolution for the year 2011 and beyond. Know that our journey is not a sprint but a metered “lifestyle” that 10 out of 10 times will deliver results that will astound you. How elated will you feel when you FINALLY deliver the 2011 model that the December, 2010, You envisioned?
SHORT TO DO LIST:
1. Record – Verbal cues are like a non-recorded song long forgotten. Without the reinforced and written word, where exactly do you expect to go? My goals are always CLEARLY listed and detailed on my fridge AND routinely checked off when attained. Back in my bodybuilding days, I posted a picture of last year’s champion on my wall, I would repeatedly visualize myself in his place with that trophy.
2. Progress Points – If you’re looking for increasing your muscle mass, shoot for small strength increases, (in good form), regularly. If you’re looking to lean up, are your jeans fitting better? Are bodyweight exercises, (push-ups, dips and pull-ups), easier for you due to your less overall volume? Shoot for the next hurdle.
3. Patience - While I applaud that generally gym- goers openly invite change into their exercise routines, a little more in the way of patience will help deliver those results the magazines and Dr. Oz promised you. Did you put on whatever weight it is you seek to lose in one week? No. So do not expect to lose it in one week. Are you barely eating but STILL not losing fat? Hidden sugars (alcohol, refined foods), perhaps? Not enough protein (to firm muscles), perhaps?
4. Time Management – We all share the same 24- hour time frame. Stop making excuses and just get it done! Whether you have to wake up early to exercise, do it after work even though you are tired or have a trainer, such as myself, visit your home, GET IT DONE because the guilty energy you spend worrying about exercise would better be put to use, exercising!
5. Invest in you – Buying a pair of shorts one size too small will motivate you to soon wear them and wear them looking well. Perhaps a pair of sneakers you look awesome in. New iPod maybe? Actually, I might wait on that; the new one will be out next week and then another the week after that. Wear something that motivates you and empowers you at the gym and compete only against yourself. By the way, when did the gym become a fashion statement? Who cares what you look like? Only you and your trainer should! Care that soon you'll be looking better!
SHORT DO NOT LIST:
1. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk or ruin their diets – YOU are in charge of your health. Do not give in to temptation or commit carbicide. At a party and there’s nothing healthy to eat? There’s always something healthy to eat!
2. Oversaturation – No-one appreciates a guest that overstays his/her welcome. Save the marathon training sessions for never. Less is more. Get in and get out. Efficiency, not eternal.
3. Fads – Do not give in to them. There’s a reason for so many new fads; they sell magazines and products! Stick with what works and what has worked. There is nothing wrong with bettering one’s results via a streamlined PROVEN concept, but if it sounds too good to be true…
4. Weapons of Mass Distortion – The scale is evil! Face it; your weight will fluctuate day to day. But what part of the number is actually muscle, fat, or water? Use the mirror, your clothes, or even photos, which will ALWAYS show definitive progress, or lack thereof rather than just a number.
5. Support Group – One of the greatest things about exercise, I find is, the solo aspect of the endeavor. For me, weight training has always been a wonderful way to rid my body of negative thoughts, and emotions, and replace them with positive results. BUT it can he a big help to have a trainer, friend or loved one to report to charting your progress. Being held accountable by someone else will help to keep you honest and on the road to results. In my own case, it was the judges, or the photographer, whose lenses were aimed at me that ALWAYS kept me honest and insured me that I did my homework lest I look bad in my underwear posing in front of hundreds of onlookers.
Happy New Year my friends!