Despite what you might see on TV infomercials or in newspaper ads, there is no magic bullet or miracle pill that will get you fit overnight. No matter what any glamorous hard-body spokesperson says about the newest “revolutionary” exercise machine, diet, or supplementation program- the fact is that achieving fitness success takes time and energy. You can bet that the spokesperson did not get his or her physique by using the “new, amazing de-fat-alizer” machine for 30 seconds a day! He or she is undoubtedly engaged in a fitness program that includes sensible diet and lots of exercise.
On the other hand, we believe that achieving fitness success is well within everyone’s reach. This article will provide you with powerful, effective steps you can take RIGHT NOW that will jump-start your fitness program and get you on track to fitness success.
THE FIVE STEPS TO FITNESS SUCCESS
1. Make Changes TODAY!
2. Decide & Commit
3. Define Goals
4. Design Your Road Map
5. Feel Good!
Step 1: Make Changes TODAY!
Achieving FITNESS SUCCESS is all about making consistent incremental improvements over time. Like the power of compounding interest, implementing even small improvements can result in a cumulative snow-balling effect that generates momentum, enthusiasm and results!
There are specific, immediate changes you can make that will deliver meaningful results:
It sounds obvious, but it’s truly amazing how much potential is in this simple step. Park at the far end of the parking lot; take the stairs instead of the elevator; chase your grandchildren around. Our bodies were built for movement, and the simple act of moving more is a great way to start your fitness program. Walking is a vastly underrated form of exercise. So is dancing!
You’ll hear different target quantities from different experts, but a good rule of thumb is to drink 8 glasses of water per day. It’s a good practice to drink a glass ½ hour before and after meals. Substituting water for less healthy drinks (like soda) will cut calories and reduce intake of artificial flavoring, coloring, etc. Also, increasing water intake will help curb your appetite.
EAT LESS, MORE OFTEN
Studies have shown that our bodies operate more efficiently when we spread our food intake our over five or six smaller meals per day, versus the three larger meals to which we’ve become accustomed. And what grandma told you about eating your vegetables was right on target! Most Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables regularly. It’s surprisingly easy to shrink the size of meals when you increase your water intake and include more fruits and vegetables.
KEEP TRACK OF WHAT YOU EAT
Another simple yet very powerful tip! Whether you go “all the way” and actually maintain a log of everything you eat, or simply try to do a mental recap periodically during the day, this is a great way to manage your diet. For example, when you get ready to eat dinner, doing a quick review of what you’ve eaten so far that day will help you make intelligent menu choices.
Flexibility is a very important component of overall fitness. A daily routine of basic stretches can greatly improve your mobility in a very short period of time. Just remember: stretching movements should be gentle and gradual, and never jerky or bouncy.
Once you’ve made the simple lifestyle changes listed above, you will begin building the positive momentum that will empower you to move aggressively toward your fitness goals!
It’s not about big, sweeping changes: the fact is you CAN NOT become fit in one day. But you can decide TODAY to make a commitment to incremental, consistent improvement that will get you on track IMMEDIATELY.
Step 2: Decide to Take Better Care of Yourself
You probably know someone who has experienced health problems that could have been avoided if the person had taken better care of him or herself. How many times have you resolved to begin taking better care of yourself?
But what does that mean?
Ask virtually anyone what it means to “take better care of yourself”, and undoubtedly you’ll hear something like “Get more exercise and eat sensibly”. Everyone seems to know that exercise is important to overall health and well-being, and is a big part of taking better care of yourself. We’ve all seen the reports on TV, in magazines, on the internet: it’s an irrefutable fact that people of all ages and fitness levels can reap compelling physical and psychological benefits by engaging in a sensible exercise regimen.
So…Why are so many people neglecting to engage in an exercise program, when they KNOW that this behavior will improve their health, appearance, attitude, and overall quality of life?
The answer is simple. They have not yet DECIDED TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF THEMSELVES.
You already know many good reasons to begin an exercise program. You have probably heard (or even used!) at least one of the most common excuses for not beginning a fitness program:
“I don’t have enough time”. (probably the number 1 excuse)
“I won’t feel comfortable working out with a bunch of “hard-bodies”.
“It’s too expensive”.
Let’s BUST these mythical excuses right now!
“I don’t have enough time”.
There are plenty of busy people who are fit, and plenty of fit people who are busy. The fact is that people who DECIDE to make the time, make the time. It’s hard to imagine there are many things in your life more important than your physical well-being, which is what enables you to enjoy all other aspects of your life.
“I won’t feel comfortable working out with a bunch of “hard-bodies”.
This is an easy one. If you’re not comfortable working out in any particular health club, THEN DON’T! There are so many different venues in which you can exercise that you are certain to find the right one with a little homework. See “Should I Join a Health Club”.
“It’s too expensive”.
The expense associated with a fitness program can vary from a multi-thousand dollar investment in home exercise equipment to a zero-cost program that includes walking, jogging and/or calisthenics. If you decide to join a health club, or seek out the services of a personal trainer, then there are of course associated costs. But once again, there are many health clubs with varying fee structures. Do some comparison shopping!
Consider the following:
a) What is the ROI (return on investment) for an effective fitness program? How much is it worth to you to improve your overall health and wellness; to have more energy and stamina; to feel better? What is the long-term price of NOT engaging in a fitness program?
b) What constitutes “expensive”? A health club costing $60 per month breaks out to roughly $14 per week. That’s something like $3 per workout, or what most people spend on coffee every day.
c) Perhaps you fall into a category that qualifies for a discount at a local health club. For example, many clubs have discount membership programs for seniors, employees of local companies (“Corporate Memberships”), referral discounts, etc. Again, doing a little homework can really pay off!
Now it’s just a matter of making the decision that you will Take Better Care of Yourself. That means making a commitment to take action.
We’re using the word “commitment” here for a reason. The dictionary defines “Commitment” as “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future”. A commitment is a PROMISE. We’re talking about making a promise to yourself that you will begin taking better care of yourself. And nothing is as gratifying as fulfilling a promise!
Step 3: Define Your Fitness Goals
Start with YOUR definition of fitness. What does it mean to you? It could be reaching and maintaining a more healthy body weight. It could be lowering your blood pressure, gaining lean muscle mass, or being able to walk a brisk mile without getting overly winded. Your goal could be being fit enough to carry your grandson up the stairs. For some, it’s bench-pressing 400 lbs. or running a marathon. It doesn’t matter.
Define what you want out of a fitness program.
It might be helpful to talk to people you know who are already actively engaged in exercise, or to have an assessment consultation with a Personal Trainer/Fitness Specialist at a local health club.
Make sure your goals are realistic, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Keep in mind that fitness is REALLY about one thing: feeling better!
So, when you define your goal, be sure to think about how reaching this goal will make you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. That will make the goal feel more “real”, and give you a motivational tool you can use throughout your fitness journey.
Hard vs. Soft goals:
It really pays to establish “hard” goals. That is, goals that are as specific and measurable as possible.
“Soft” goals on the other hand are more vague and general.
I want to get in shape. (how will you measure your success? What does “in shape” mean?)
Measurable, Specific Goal:
By June 30th, I want to lose 10 lbs, and increase my endurance to the point where I can jog two miles without stopping.
Setting specific fitness goals is also a great motivator, because you can track your success and see progress as you move toward your goal.
Step 4: Lay Out Your Road Map
You’ve decided to make a real commitment to take action, and to start taking better care of yourself. AND you’ve taken the next important step by defining your fitness goals.
For many people, those first steps are the most difficult. It’s important to understand that without a real commitment (Step 2) and clearly-defined goals (Step 3), there is no way to develop a plan. That would be like building a house without a blue-print!
But once you’ve completed these crucial steps, you are ready to develop your road map.
Your fitness road map must answer the BIG THREE questions:
What is my goal (where am I going?)
What is my plan (how do I get there?)
How to I track progress (how do I tell where am I now?)
It is absolutely critical that you lay out a road map that addresses these BIG THREE questions. The road map should outline the actual exercise routines to be performed, the scheduling of workouts, and a procedure for measuring progress at prescribed intervals.
The best approach is to start with a high-level outline, and then fill in details as you gather information. The outline should include:
workout frequency (e.g. 4 times per week)
approximate mix of flexibility, strength and cardio training (based on goals)
actual exercise programs (*)
check points (e.g. weigh-ins every 3 weeks)
The more specific you are in this planning phase, the BETTER your chances for success!
(*) There are many sources for help in designing your exercise program. Workout programs are available over the internet or in book stores. Our best advice is: GET HELP. Whether it’s from a fitness-minded friend or trained professional at a health club, by getting skilled assistance you can easily build a road map that includes enough variation to ward of the potential boredom of a fixed routine.
Also consider whether you’d like to enlist someone as a workout partner. Some people find it motivating to have a partner; it might even occasionally “guilt” you into working out when you know your partner is counting on you. And two heads are usually better than one!
Once you have your road map, you can determine what workout venues will make sense. Depending on your goals, there may be several effective paths for you to follow. You might join a walking club, or sign up for dance lessons. You might begin an independent exercise program at home, or join a friend who jogs regularly.
Remember: You should consult your physician before beginning an exercise regimen.
Step 5: Feel Good!
Fitness is, above all, about FEELING GOOD!
Once you have designed a fitness road map, the best way to succeed is to enjoy the challenge. Our bodies WANT to be fit! And once you start your program, you will feel the exhilaration that comes when you get moving.
Nothing is more motivating than knowing that you’ve defined a goal, have an action plan, and are WORKING YOUR PLAN. While you’re working your plan, always remember to:
Enjoy the ride
Set challenging new goals for yourself.
That last point is important: you’re not “done” when your reach your goals. Fitness is not a destination, it’s a lifestyle. So, when you reach a goal, congratulate yourself and raise the bar!
You’ll find that you will look forward to workout days, and even on those rare occasions when you have to “force” yourself to work out, you’ll be glad you did. Enjoying the ride is the biggest key to success in fitness.
It’s also important to mix in some patience with your enthusiasm. You might miss a workout or two, or get side-tracked for a week. This happens to even the most dedicated fitness devotees. If and when you slip, or your progress slows, it’s important to remember how much long-term benefit you will get from your fitness program. And even after a “slip up”, nothing feels better than getting right back on track.
By following the FIVE STEPS TO FITNESS SUCCESS, you can realize IMMEDIATE improvements in your overall fitness jump-start your journey toward your fitness goals ENJOY getting the most out of your fitness program
The FIVE STEPS TO FITNESS SUCCESS
1) Make Changes TODAY!
2) Decide & Commit
3) Define Goals
4) Design Your Road Map
5) Feel Good!