I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the spring. With Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ Day long gone, it’s time to refocus on maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle, and putting the ho-hums of winter behind us. By focusing our energy on improving our health and the way we look and feel, our attitude will become more positive, we’ll have more “pep in our step”, and our smiles will transform the gloomy days of winter into the renewing energy of springtime (too corny?).
We’ve all heard that to maintain good health, we need to combine diet and regular exercise. Then why do so many of us fail? We all want to be healthy, right? Certainly we all want to look and feel our best, don’t we? So why do so many of us quit the gym after January, and then end up scrambling back in April when we begin to worry about bikini season? As a former owner of multiple training studios, I’ve seen this way too many times.
Based on my experience, here are the top four most common reasons I’ve seen people fail when it comes to maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle, and what they can do about it:
1. They set long-term goals
Most people set goals for themselves that are too far out and take too long to achieve. Setting a goal for one, two, or three months away is far too long for most people, and they end up failing miserably. It’s OK to set long term goals, but I’ve found setting goals for shorter durations is much more effective.
So instead, find a duration that you’re positive you can achieve, even if it’s just one day at a time. Once you’ve hit that goal date, just start over. This not only helps you feel successful, but it also gives you the opportunity to recognize that eating right and exercising regularly makes you feel better, thus reinforcing your desire to continue.
2. They obsess over mistakes
So you messed up. You had a huge ice-cream sundae after dinner. Forget about it and move on. Dwelling on it is the worse thing you can do. One mistake doesn’t make or break your diet (and by “diet”, I don’t mean a temporary change in the way you eat). As long as you don’t let that one meal start a landslide of bad eating, (“I’ve already messed up, what the heck, what’s one more meal?”) you’ll be fine.
Instead of obsessing, try this simple rule: Any time you “fall off the wagon” make sure that your next six meals are healthy ones.
3. They skip breakfast
Sure you’ve heard this one a million times, but it still remains as one of the foundations of a healthy lifestyle. If your last meal was at 7:00 or 8:00 the night before, your body will be running on empty by the time you wake up and get to work. When the hunger really kicks in, you end up looking for something quick and convenient and that’s when the trouble starts.
If there is absolutely no way you can wake up just a wee bit earlier to have a good breakfast, do what I do. Keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter, and make sure you stay stocked up on healthy nuts like almonds and walnuts. If I have no time to prepare anything, I grab a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit or two and eat them on the way to work. The fiber, protein, and healthy fats from the nuts fill me up, and I just had a healthy breakfast that I feel good about.
In a pinch, I’ll also use a good protein powder. I prefer Prograde Protein Powder because it contains no artificial sweeteners, is low in calories, is non-GMO, doesn’t leave me bloated, and mixes easily with just a spoon. You could do a lot worse than a good protein drink and a piece of fruit or two for breakfast.
4. They’re inconsistent
Based on my experience, this has to be the number one reason people fail. Whether it’s with their eating habits or with their workouts, inconsistency kills results every time. That’s why I believe simpler is better. The simpler something is, the easier it is to stick with it. Most people have so many perceived “hurdles” to go through just to get to a workout, that they end up using one or all of them as excuses to miss a workout. You feel you have to wake up early, have a good breakfast, get dressed, make sure you look “good” for the gym, drive to the gym, wait for equipment to be free, worry about people staring at you, avoid the idle chit-chat of other gym members, etc. I’ve heard each and every one of these as reasons to miss a workout or not workout at all.
The best advice I can give is to skip the gym altogether…ironic coming from a former gym owner, I know. Focus on workouts you can do from home that won’t take you an hour to complete. Skipping the gym and working out at home saves you time and money, and greatly increases the probability that you’ll actually do your workout.
Stick to high intensity resistance training using intervals and you can get a great fat burning, muscle building workout in just 15-20 minutes a day.
When it comes to consistently eating healthy, it usually comes down to one word: preparedness. Like anything else worth achieving, eating right comes down to being prepared. Before you begin your healthy eating at home, you need to clean out the fridge and kitchen cupboards, and get rid of anything processed, anything with added sugar, and anything with artificial sweeteners. Replace them with healthy nuts, low fat cheeses, organic fruits and vegetables, and lean meats.
Do the same at work. By having healthy snacks at your fingertips, chances are much less likely that you’ll be stopping at a donut shop during your break.
One last tip…
Never use the scale to measure fat/weight loss progress. The mirror should be your number one measuring stick, along with how your clothes feel. The scale is too easily tricked, and doesn’t take into account how your body may have changed.
So what are you waiting for? Spring’s here!
Coach George, CFT, Pn1
Coach George here!