Some of us are still reeling from the stress and fast-paced dinners and parties that the end of the year usually brings. The dust is settling, and it’s time to assess the damage.
Pants are tighter, and when sitting we feel that tummy hanging over our pants just a bit more than usual. Your wife says, “I need to get to the gym,” and you respond, “That’s a great idea!” before she even finishes her sentence. Or she pats your tummy and asks, “When’s the due date?” We notice our energy is, well, low, and our self-confidence isn’t quite where we would like it to be, either.
In fact, we might even be a bit grumpier with our friends and co-workers because of it. So in an attempt to help ourselves we decide to join a gym, buy some new workout clothes that hide what we’re trying to lose, and start down the path of healthy living. Now the fun begins!
We get to the gym and walk around, looking at the equipment, trying to look like we know exactly what we’re doing and what we’re looking for. We get on a piece of equipment, pick a weight – not too light so that others watching don’t think we’re beginners. Then we do 15 repetitions, because that’s the magic number. After that we mosey over to another machine and go through our routine again. This will last for two weeks until life gets in the way again and we stop going to the gym.
This scenario happens all too often. The reason is poor planning and unrealistic expectations. Most people don’t have a realistic plan for working out and eating right. The usual plan consists of going to the gym either before or after work, spending 20-45 minutes on some type of cardio machine and then trying to use some weights for about 20 minutes. That sounds good on paper but there is so much more that we need to consider before we put our plan together.
Here are some questions to consider: Do I like to exercise? Can I do this on my own or should I work out with a friend? Am I choosing a time that fits into my schedule or am I forcing a time I probably won’t keep for more than two weeks? Am I honestly acknowledging my current state of health and fitness level, or am I living in the past, hoping my fitness level is the same as it was when I was 22? Are my goals realistic? Can I be patient to reach those goals? Do I really want to change or am I doing it for someone else (that won’t last!)? Do I know the best way to reach my goals or could I use a certified personal trainer to help me for one or two sessions so I don’t get discouraged? Can I eat healthier, even when enjoying a meal at a restaurant?
Simply being a member at a gym doesn’t mean you know how to work out or reach your goals. The same is true in any sport. Just because you own some equipment doesn’t make you good in particular sport. So the advice I give my clients is to start slow and ENJOY yourself, in and out of the gym.
For example, start a program that will take 20 minutes and do three or four exercises you like. Start at two or three times a week and choose times that fit very well into your schedule. If you miss a day, no sweat! Just pick up on the next day you have scheduled. DON’T get discouraged! If you find that you love to exercise, train more. Look at the first three weeks simply as an easy “break in” period. No hard work, no heavy weights, no sprints for two miles. Try and make the exercise part of your schedule and part of your routine.
Reaching your goals is about balance and planning. Find a balance between work, family responsibilities, personal time, exercise, eating, recreation and so on. Time passes us so quickly that if we don’t make time now to care for ourselves, in six months we will re-read this article and be six months older and maybe a few pounds heavier. Finding a balance is the key to keeping exercise and healthy living a part of your life.
Oh, and if you feel there’s no hope for you or that you have so far to go you think, “What’s the use?”, please don’t give up! I have personally worked with some amazing people that had great obstacles to overcome in their quest to be healthy, fit and happy, and yet they did it! I know it can be done, I have witnessed it!
Make it your aim, this year, to take care of YOU! Make realistic goals for yourself. Make time for exercise, even if that means taking time from watching TV or spending time on the computer. Make healthier food choices, whether at home or out for dinner. Get help if you need it – friends, co-workers, personal trainers, etc. Remember, all good things take time and hard work. You are worth the effort!
Ed White has worked in the fitness industry for more than 22 years and is a certified personal trainer. He has complemented his love of personal training with 12 years’ experience in spine care in physical therapy and three years as administrator for a medical clinic. He has a record of success in teaching people how to care for their body through exercise and proper nutrition. He owns EveryDay Fitness on Athens Avenue in Redding, where he helps people of all ages reach their goal. He may be reached at 530-246-1902. For more information visit his website at edfitness.com.