At this time of year when you’re stuffed full of turkey, mince pies and chocolates (apart from you über-disciplined folk, who we admire greatly, by the way!), there’s a sort of impatient enthusiasm to get in shape come January. During the first two-three weeks of the year, you’ll see folk lined up in the gym like toy soldiers. Now, just to be clear, I’m not mocking these efforts – but often, they’re not sustainable and this is when burn-out can occur.
So, why is this? Usually, it’s because the initial, ‘raring to go’ attitude has undertones of punishment that’s propelled by haste. Invariably, this will fizzle out; feelings of depravity set in and motivation dwindles. Before you can say ‘dead lift’, the gym gear is stashed back in the wardrobe where it was pulled out from.
In almost every case, improper planning is the reason for this sudden crash, and this is where I’m here to help! Today’s blog is all about helping you to come up with a strategy – one that will serve to inspire you and help you stay on track, long-term.
Here are my top three tips:
When it comes to training, do your research!
It’s not uncommon for people to join a gym or take up some other form of exercise, without determining the best course of action for them. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, what you’re really looking at is fat reduction; it’s all too easy to think that over-zealous cardio will do the trick, but in truth, weight training would be more beneficial, long-term. Include some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in the mix, and you have a recipe for success!
The best thing to do is consult a fitness instructor (since most gyms offer an induction service and ongoing advice, free of charge) who’ll be able to point you in the right direction. Remember that more isn’t always, well… more – unless you’re training for the Olympics, spending two hours or so in the gym is both unnecessary and non-productive. A quality, 20-30 minutes daily can prove more effective than slogging it out for extensive periods. Plan your schedule accordingly, and you’ll feel much more positive about your new regime, and feel confident that it can work for you.
Get to grips with nutrition and supplements
It doesn’t matter how well you train; if your diet isn’t up to scratch, you won’t get the best results possible. Nutrition and supplements provide the raw materials required to keep your body in tip-top condition, sustain performance and promote recovery. I’m a great advocate of increasing healthy fat intake from sources like oily fish, nuts/nut butter, grass-fed butter and coconut oil, and reducing refined carbs; this is a great rule of thumb for all.
Supplements have versatile use; they can bridge gaps between meals to aid the recovery process round the clock. I think of them as little pillars of support that help you to stay ahead of your game. There’s something for every aspect of training, from boosting hydration levels to promoting a muscle repair/growth whilst you sleep.
The secret is to start with the basics which are arguably whey protein, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and a good quality multi-nutrient. You can factor in others as you progress, such as creatine, joint care, male support and so on. This way, you’ll be making manageable, ‘bite size’ changes to your lifestyle that are both manageable and effective.
Also, adopt the 80/20 rule: if you’re good most of the time, you can afford to be a little bit flexible on occasion, making room for a couple of beers, the odd takeaway or dessert.
It might sound simple, but I find this really works! Leave your gym bag in an accessible area, complete with whatever gear you’ll need, clean shakers and so forth. This way, you’ll be prepared and actually feel more inclined to carry out your training sessions, because you’re subtly reinforcing the intention to do so.
You really don’t need anything too fancy – a good pair of training shoes and comfortable gear will fit the bill, but get this ready in advance. Keep it somewhere visible, and it will spur you on to stick to your routine.
If you need to replace anything, do so before you get back to the gym. This will be one less thing to tick off the list and will mean that you’re better equipped to take on your new challenges.
So, all in all, it’s about being organised, but getting to grips with the foundations of success; there’s always room for growth and improvement, but if you begin with the right frame of mind, you’re more likely to be clear about the changes you’re making – and witness results.
Happy New Year, happy new you! :)