We all know that this is the time of year that everyone vows to get healthier, lose weight, and focus on his or her health. People plunk down their money for a gym membership, go and workout for a few weeks, only to fall off the wagon shortly thereafter.
If you caught that NPR piece on how the mainstream big-box gyms make their money, you know they benefit the most at this time of year. They get the cash, and it makes no difference to them whether the clients ever actually use their gym memberships. In fact, as that Planet Money piece notes, they don’t actually want the clients to use the gym!
We operate on a completely different model here at SRSC, one that is based on getting clients the fitness, weight loss, and health RESULTS they are seeking, and I’m going to share with you how you can get results too.
First, you need to identify your specific health and fitness goals. What does being healthy or fit mean to you? What exactly do you want to achieve? Fat loss? Increased energy? Speed on the field or court? There are no right or wrong answers.
Write down your health and fitness goals and share them with a friend. Then ask yourself: on a scale of 1-10, how important is it to you to reach these goals? If you rate yourself at least 8 or above, then read on. (If not, you should spend some time identifying what is more important to you and spend your time on those things!)
If you’re serious about making changes to your fitness, health, or body composition, here are 5 steps for success:
1. Block the time.
If your fitness, health, or body composition goals are important to you, then you need to block the time for training in your schedule. There should be no question of whether you’re going to workout today or any day…you need to plan and know your workout days and your rest days. Training sessions go in your calendar, and nothing bumps them out of the way but perhaps a family emergency.
You really only need to train 3 days a week for about an hour. A rest day in between workout days is good, so something like Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday is great. That’s all you need to start. Just 3 days for about an hour each day.
(For further reading: Our 10 Principles for Member Success)
2. Do the right exercises.
You should be doing full body, compound movements. Forget the machines, and move the way your body was designed to move in real life. Do full range-of-motion Squats, Deadlifts, and Shoulder Presses as a basic routine. If you’re more advanced, add some explosive power movements like Push Press and Power Cleans. Accessorize with Pull Ups, Dips, and Glute Ham Raises. Voila. Now you’ve got a stronger, more functional, and better-looking body.
Please don’t spend an hour on the treadmill or elliptical. Focus on Strength Training as the basis for your workouts. Increasing your lean muscle mass will raise your resting metabolic rate; that is, with more muscle, your body burns more calories while doing nothing. Combine that with some simple shifts in your diet to emphasize fat burning, and you will get the ‘toned’ look that so many people say they want.
Your heart rate will rise even during Strength Training. But if you’re craving more of that out-of-breath feeling, go outside and walk, jog, run, sprint, or any combination of those for 15-20 minutes. Fartleks, anyone?
(For further reading: 3 Reasons Why Strength Classes are Blowing Up)
3. Eat these foods and ditch these others.
A good nutritional program should be centered around eating real food. Fad diets, crash diets, miracle pills and meal-replacement shakes are not part of a balanced, sustainable path towards improved health and fitness. Instead, we encourage you to eat high quality (pastured) meat, wild seafood and eggs, plenty of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits, and healthy sources of dietary fats – it’s that simple. Eat good food, put your meals together in a way that is simple, balanced and sustainable (we’ll show you how), and experience all of the tangible benefits that come from a nutritional plan designed to help you create a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.
Sorry, but ‘everything in moderation’ is just not an effective tool to meet specific health or weight loss goals. And although restricting calories works as a short-term solution for some people, it is not an effective long-term strategy. You need to focus on food quality and determine which foods to eat, and which foods to ditch. The fact is, a food either supports or hinders your health, aesthetic, or performance goals. You need to learn what foods will give you the results you’re looking for, and which do not.
(For further reading, check out our Nutrition page)
4. Rest and Recover
Take care of your body with massage, chiropractic, or other bodywork. Go for a walk without your phone. Lie in the sun and get some Vitamin D. Turn off all electronics an hour before bed, and get at least eight hours of sleep each night. And take rest days! Train hard, and then recover – that’s how you get fitter, not by training all the time. Your body and brain must have downtime from the stresses of life in order to adapt, grow, and thrive in 2015.
(For further reading, check out Whole9’s Are You Recovering, or Are You Just Resting?)
5. Have Fun!
Humans are animals and the human body is designed to move and to play. We were not meant to sit for lengthy periods, nor walk on machines with moving belts watching TV – we were meant to walk and skip, jump and bounce, run and throw, push and pull, fall and get up. We were meant to move our bodies frequently and in many different ways. Watch little kids on a playground or at the beach or in the woods and you’ll see how humans.
Your exercise program should bring you pleasure in some way, and if you’re not enjoying it at all, it’s not the right program for you.
(For further reading: Get Outside and Play!)