Two of the more dreaded post-holiday tasks are assembling new electronics and planning your New Year's resolution workouts - especially when you have no instruction booklet for the latter.
For beginners, getting into fitness can be intimidating and confusing. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, getting fit is one of the most straightforward tasks you'll attempt in the New Year. Fortunately, reaching your fitness goals requires only two things; discipline (that's up to you) and a set of simple guidelines (which I'm happy to provide).
First, you should arrange for a full physical examination from your physician. This is mandatory for people that have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or are obese. Once you have your doctor's approval to begin a fitness program, you should schedule a fitness assessment with a health professional at your gym.
While both of these are incredibly annoying, they are essential to your success and well-being. The benefits of a doctor's visit are obvious, particularly if you have one or more of the previously mentioned conditions but it also allows you and your doctor to discuss your lifestyle. Preventative medicine is far better than reactive medicine. Make your doctor part of your fat loss and health-building team along with the health professionals at your gym.
The real benefits of the fitness assessment aren't finding out how much body fat you have or how many minutes you can last on the treadmill, but rather getting a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
According to Tim Irvine, President of Totum Life Science, "First and foremost we need to identify what works and does not work mechanically for an individual. We do this from an injury prevention standpoint and also to determine what the limitations are for an individual. Much more appropriate programs can be set from this information." If you want to avoid injury and actually achieve your goals this year, get to know your strengths and weaknesses.
The next secret is to walk, don't run, to fitness success. If you want to pick up your University running workouts where you left them 10 years ago, that's fine. But I guarantee you won't last 10 days. And then it'll be a dreary 355 days until you're ready to try exercise again.
The hidden benefit of a good fitness assessment is that it will actually serve as a nice introductory workout to your return to fitness. It will buffer your delusions of fitness grandeur from the reality of what your body actually can do. After the fitness assessment teaches your body a lesson and awakens your muscles from their winter slumber, only then will you realize your limits that you must respect in subsequent workouts.
Goal-setting is the fourth secret to success (and not just in fitness, but in any area of life). It is much more effective to commit to a set of specific short-term and long-term goals than it is to routinely hope for weight loss each year.
Set realistic goals and remember to train within your limits. If you are currently sedentary and haven't exercised in months (or years), don't begin an advanced training program. Start with a conservative beginner program. Your belly wasn't built in a day, and neither will be lost overnight.
Limit your initial workouts to 1 set per muscle group. In week 2, you should be ready to add another set. And if you want to build up to 3 sets, then do so in week 3. Slowly increase the weight and stay within your desired repetition range. At no time should you be too sore to function. And runners should also heed this advice. Too much running will guarantee shin splints in the early going. Avoid running on back to back days for the first two weeks and keep the distance short. Sore muscles are guaranteed when you lift. So keep the volume low.
And now for the two super secrets that will help keep you committed and consistent with your workouts and will finally help you lose fat for good.
First, build your social support team. Social support is the #1 factor for success for women in fitness programs, and is important for men as well. Support can come from your spouse, brother or sister, child, mom or dad, friend, neighbor, co-worker, personal trainer, or lifestyle coach. Don't try to go it alone. As Dr. Eric Serrano says about his weight loss patients, "Patients respond better when they report to a person instead of a machine. No one wants to disappoint a real person."
You also need to know that nutrition is the second most important factor for success in fat loss programs. That's why you don't need to train like a world-class athlete when you are starting to lose fat. Most of the fat you'll lose in the early going is because you have chosen to make better nutritional choices. And if you don't make better nutritional choices, even the best exercise program in the world isn't going to help you achieve your fat loss goals.
Nutrition is a lot simpler than you think. Don't over think things. See a nutritionist or listen to what your mother told you as a kid. Food choices should contain a large nutrient-to-calorie ratio. Dr. Phil (yes that Dr. Phil) calls this "High-Response Cost, High-Yield Nutrition". And follow this rule: Don't eat foods with added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or fruit syrup," says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD. Log your nutritional intake on http://www.Fitday.com. This is a free website that allows you to track your calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
The consistent use of these 6 secrets will help you achieve your New Year's resolutions. Make this year's fitness plan a strategic investment in your future health. The most efficient and effective way to lose fat this year is with my Turbulence Training workouts - the choice of fitness professionals.
Craig Ballantyne trains athletes and executives in Toronto, and writes for Men's Fitness magazine. His trademarked Turbulence Training workouts and his comprehensive workout manuals (including "The Deluxe Bodyweight Workout").