Thus, for the past two years I have been sleuthing for answers on physical training, exercise, weight training, and health. There was so much conflicting philosophies I decided to start experimenting on myself.
I condensed all that I have learned into five steps to get anyone over the many hurdles which prevent us from working out. Here they are:
1. Choose a Goal That Motivates You
To Get Sexy as F*
I toyed around with my goals for weeks but nothing really motivated me and pushed past the excuses until the last one. At this point it is all a mental you play with yourself. Having a set goal, a vision of what you are after is key, however you need it put in a way that gets you to kick down that door. There are many versions of yourself so it is very important to pick one, envision it, put it in motivating words and go for it.
Think about a motivating goal and write it down.
2. Train for the Body You Want
I had a couple dead end conversations with some fitness experts about how they stay slim and toned only to discover that they were in fact slim all of their lives and really didn't have to do much to maintain a good looking, slim, toned body. In fact, one fitness expert, who also owns his own gym, told me that he has trouble gaining weight and must force his daily intake of over 3000 calories per day just to keep from losing weight he works so hard to keep. His advice to me was to calculate how many calories you burn in one day (BMR) and to consume exactly that amount every single day while lifting more weights. Another personal trainer told me that very same day to decrease my reps and max out my weights. I went from 30 reps of benching 90lbs to 5 reps of benching 125lbs (equivalent to a man bench pressing 230lbs).
The advice kept coming from every corner. A fitness trainer at my gym told me that I was working out all wrong and that I needed to pyramid, starting my weights at 55lbs and work my way up to 125lbs and back down again. Yet another muscle man told me the only way to get the body I really wanted was to stack, I assume he meant to supplement while I lifted. And still another Arnold wanna-be told me that the proper way to lift weights was to use progressive strength training by repetitively maxing out to encourage rapid muscle regeneration. I tried each and every technique and I was rather disappointed with the lack of progress I had made during that year. I can bench 125lbs with ease, but I never lost a single pound of fat doing it this way.
Then one afternoon I stumble upon one expert who eloquently told me that you need to train for the body that you specifically want. Out of all the advice I was given over the years, this made the most sense. After all, runners run, swimmers swim, weight lifters lift weights, boxers box, body builders build muscle mass, gymnasts do gymnastics, football players play football, and dancers dance. Each physically train their bodies to preform the tasks they desire to do and each have their own unique look. Sure there may be some cross training from one athletic build to the other, i.e. a line backer would be required to run, bulk up, and strength train, however he would look ridiculous on stage performing Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy; the famous ballet would surely become a comedy at that point. Cue the Rock in a tutu.
Pick the appropriate exercises for the physique you desire.
3. Pick a Schedule and Start Training
Back in my ol' Navy days, at one of my duty stations we were required to PT every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before our 7am muster. There were two groups, those who swam in cold water from 4:30am to 5am and those who ran laps from 5am to 6am. I chose to swim! Ahh, those were the days!
Let's get real here. You have a busy life and it is hard to find time to work out; after all there are only 24 hours in a day and it would be nice to get a few hours of sleep in that time frame. One trained professional (gym coach) told me the best time to exercise was in the morning, just like my ol' Navy days, so I begrudgingly got up at 4:30am to work out. This lasted for only two weeks before I decided sleep was more important, that and I don't have to get up that early anymore. The bad part about that was I abruptly stopped working out, making excuse after excuse why other things in my life were more important than maintaining a physically fit physique. After a couple months of excuses and a difficult time buttoning pants, I decided to get my butt in gear again and I started going to the gym. My new routine started after dropping off the kiddos at school, which then crunched up my morning schedule like an accordion virtually screwing me on the back end of my day. This funky routine lasted for the remainder of the school year. The biggest problem I ran into with the morning routine was that I unconsciously consumed more throughout the day, thus it was negatively impacting my progress. Plus it was difficult to get back into every Monday morning. Then when the kiddos were out for summer break my routine abruptly changed and consequently I stopped working out again. The excuses came back again and I slowly packed on an excess 10lbs of fat, ultimately destroying all the progress that I had made while the kiddos were in school. The struggle is real!
Fast forward to now: I found the best time for me to work out is after the kiddos go to bed at night and the house is finally quiet. Screw the "professionals'" opinion, this schedule works for me! I can get an uninterrupted 45 minutes of cardio and strength training in, stretch for a couple minutes and then take a hot shower before climbing into bed. I still manage to get a full night's sleep and wake up feeling energized and full of pep. I still track and journal my progress in a calendar book and have my phone programmed with alarms and reminders so I stay on track. It is quite effective.
Schedule in a routine that works best for you.
4. Track your progress
One key bit of advice I found useful was to track everything. Of course I had to track everything when I started to experiment, however I found that tracking my progress, or my lack of progress, was extremely helpful. Quintessentially I could look back three years ago and see how good I was doing then verses now. I can thumb through my records and see what worked and what didn't.
Then the subject was brought up again when I talked to a lady who lost a significant amount of weight, about 300lbs to be more precise. Inspirational! There is no excuse you can come up with now. Her biggest tools for the successful transformation was that she kept track of everything that she ate and every workout that she did. She recorded her feelings, her thoughts, her fears, and her goals. She even recorded her bad days and the days which she wanted to give up. Her journal kept her mindful, cognoscente, diligent, and on track.
I don't go that far into detail. I record my diet, my weight, and my workout schedule. I plan everything in advance and modify it as I go, recording the failures with the successes along the way. It works like a charm.
Keep a journal to record and track your progress.
5. Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition
Every gym rat, fitness coach, personal trainer, weight loss professional, doctor, nutritionist, dietician, and sports trainer has their own "educated" personal opinion about this topic. Trust me on this one, I have heard it all! The only plan I have found 100% effective is what I dub the Lipolysis Diet with a daily multivitamin. I wrote about it in previous articles and have used this particular meal plan to lose over 30lbs and significantly tone up. Is it USDA approved? No. Is it effective? Yes! It works very well for losing weight toning up. There is no calorie counting and no rules other than stick to the menu. Add more vegetables if you need more to eat. If you plan on bulking up, you will need twice as much protein than this. It is that simple.
Even if you don't feel like following this particular plan, you must drop the garbage food. Make small changes every week and toss out the junk food so it is out of reach. Make simple replacements to sugary and starchy foods and add tons of vegetables to every meal. You cannot overdo vegetables in my opinion; albeit a nutritionist once told me that I could get fat on celery if I ate too much of it (enter the confused emoji here). Just make sure you consume a variety of vegetables so that your skin doesn't turn strange colors.
I have heard this advice from several fitness pros now: precook and store your meals in individual containers so that you can grab, nuke and go. Examples are chicken breast with vegetables and wild rice, roast beef with vegetables and cauliflower mash, tuna salad wraps, chicken noodle soup, or even curry shrimp with vegetables. There are literally hundreds of recipes online which can be used to replace fast food and prepackaged junk food.
Replace soda, juice, and alcohol with tea, coffee, and sugarless drinks. Chew gum in between meals. Eat before you go to parties or out to eat with friends. Go grocery shopping with a good friend so that they can keep you from buying junk food. Most importantly, tell your addiction enabler that you are changing your eating habits and what you need from them so that you can successfully make the changes you need to transform your physique. Stay tuned for that blog.
Eat wholesome, clean meals complete with a lot of vegetables
Following these five steps should help motivate you, pump you up, and push you in the right direction.
You Can DO THIS!