If you’ve decided to get in shape this year, that’s great! It’s an awesome resolution, but there’s some well intentioned resolutions that can cause you much grief very, very quickly. I want to give you a heads up on how to set yourself up for success before you make any definite plans.
Commit to a simple schedule.
Every year, I see people make the decision to get in shape. I also see people burn out within two weeks because they set incredibly high standards for no particular reason. If you’re planning to get in shape and are new to the gym, take it easy. You do not need to be in the gym 5, 6 or 7 days a week to get in shape. In fact, if you’re new, you can go twice a week and see great results.
People commit to these ultra-demanding schedules and set themselves up for failure. This is a new habit you’re trying to build, and it’s going to be a brand new stimulus for your body to adapt to. Make a habit of going twice a week for 20-45 minutes a day. Once you’ve done that consistently for a little while, you can increase it if you want to. Three times a week is plenty in the long run if you aren’t planning on competing in a strength sport.
Virtually every single new client I’ve ever had has mentioned feeling overwhelmed as their main concern when joining a gym. They were afraid to enter the free-weight section because everyone else looks so confident, and they’re afraid of getting in the way. I’m going to be frank with you, anyone who shames you for being new is an asshole. That is not the norm. I thought it was when I started, too. I got lucky because I worked out at a school gym where qualified people approached me to offer advice and taught me how to lift better and properly. The truth is, most people don’t really care what you’re doing, and the ones that do usually want to help you rather than make fun of you.
Make small changes first.
Some people feel the need to join the gym, lift five times a week for two hours a day, cut out all the food they love and survive only on chicken breasts, rice, and pure willpower. But they don’t. They burn out.
To reiterate, this is all new. It’s going to take time to make big lifestyle changes. But every big change is the summation of many small changes.
You don’t need the perfect diet plan right off the bat. Your body is going to change dramatically with very small changes.
Some small changes you can make are: commit to having a lean protein with each meal, have a serving of fruits and veggies at least once a day, and make sleep as much a priority as it can be. I know that not everyone has the benefit of living a perfect lifestyle, but life isn’t all or nothing. Just make small improvements, because even if it’s a small step forward, it’s still forward and still worth doing. If you only get 5 hours of sleep right now, try for 6! Ideally you can get 8-9, but just because you can’t hit that number doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to just increase it a little bit. Maybe you only have time for frozen dinners because you work two jobs and don’t have the time or energy to cook. Try finding ones with a bit higher protein content and low sodium!
Also, do not get sucked into 99% of supplements. You do not need them. They do not work as advertised. The only supplements that will ever be worth taking are caffeine (coffee), creatine (improved strength capacity via increased intramuscular water, also some great brain benefits that allow research to actually be funded), and simple protein powder.
Some people really oversell protein powder and its effects. Here’s the gist: Protein powder is basically just a giant powdered chicken breast. It’s just the powder form of the macronutrient, protein. It doesn’t have any added benefit other than getting more protein in your diet. Beware, if you are lactose intolerant, many protein powders will upset your stomach. I would recommend finding one that is lactose free or buying lactose pills and ingesting them alongside the protein (which is what I do).
Find a coach!
The benefits is of coaching are almost too numerous to count. You avoid all the pitfalls newcomers to the gym usually have to endure, you get better results far faster than if you just winged it, you essentially have a mentor to ask questions about training, and you will learn about training properly far quicker than if you had to google for something you didn’t know how to look for. Additionally, you’ll have built in accountability which leads to a far higher success rate when it comes to achieving your goals.
Coaches aren’t always an option though, and weren’t for me when I was starting out due to finances. In that case, you landed in a great spot. Read up on what I post here, and you should be able to piece together an idea of how to train.
Lastly, failure is a myth.
I really dislike empowerment clichés, but I truly believe this one to be true and here’s why.
Failure is a sort of ultimate end. You’ve only failed something once it can’t be undone. A test is a good example. The second you hand it in, the test is over and done with. Your record is set in stone and there’s no undoing it.
But your health is not a test. Or at least it’s not one that can’t be revised.
Lot’s of people get discouraged when they first start out in fitness because they do what humans do: they live life. People will have a weekend where they had pizza, drank some beers, enjoyed some deserts, etc., and they think that three-day lapse somehow condemns their entire life as far as health in concerned. But that’s completely asinine.
Imagine if when you got a cold you just checked yourself into hospice because there seemed to be no point in living anymore? The image is absurd. It’ll suck for the duration, and then you’ll be back to normal in no time. The difference with health is that you may have offset your goals by a few days, but you enjoyed yourself in the process!
Health is a holistic endeavor. There’s going to be times where you set aside changing your body so that you can enjoy the company of others, and that’s okay! In fact, it’s okay for any reason. As long as you understand the trade-off, that’s all that matters! Food isn’t a moral conundrum. You are not a bad person if you enjoy fries and a shake, a brownie with ice cream on top, or anything else for that matter.
In the end, it’s all about the goals you set for yourself. If you want to lose ten pounds and keep it off, then you’ll have to modify your lifestyle accordingly. But there’s ways to accomplish that without giving up being human. No matter what, even if your meals don’t go as planned, your gym schedule gets discombobulated, or your habits seem to have a hard time sticking, you have not yet failed. You can always try again, reassess your goals and approach, and innovate new ways to change your life.
Looking for Coaching?
If you are looking for a coach to help you reach your fitness goals, please head over to my Coaching page for details. You can reach out to me at RDKLifting@Gmail.com or on Instagram at @Kvidt_Personal_Training. Whether your goal is to get lean, big, healthy, or compete in powerlifting, I have the know-how to get you to your goals. Whatever you have, wherever you are, your goals are not unattainable.