I want to start off this post by saying no matter what your fitness goal is, there is no one right way to go about achieving that goal. But, there are certain universal rules like you can’t eat 2 pizzas and drink a case a beer a day and not have a beer gut.
I just moved to Columbus a few weeks ago and during that weekend the Arnold Sports Festival was in town. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this festival, it’s a 4-day event that draws in fitness fanatics from around the world, specifically those interested in body building and fitness competitions.
Now, normally this is my cup of tea since I am a personal trainer and sport performance coach. But I found myself seeing all that is wrong with what this festival promotes. Don’t get me wrong, I do think seeing the models and competitors striving to look fit and ‘perfect’ is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t believe it’s a sustainable lifestyle for a normal person.
If that is not your lifestyle, here are some general guidelines to start a plan and then stick to it. Just remember to start small and then build on these goals. Expecting yourself to run before you walk will lead to small let-downs that can discourage you right off the bat.
Whatever your goal: weight loss, muscle building, or even just a start at a healthy lifestyle, you have to start being consistent. This could start as small as eating a low calorie dinner 3 times a week and nothing after, to going for a 1 mile walk before work in the morning. They can be extreme like not eating over 1400 calories for all 7 days. The more often you do something, the easier it will be to continue. If your goal is to work out 4 times a week, try making it a goal to just be physically in a gym 6 days a week. Getting there is the first step and the more often you do it, the more likely you will feel like something is missing if you don’t do it.
Related: 6 common workout beginner mistakes
Set fitness goals you don’t hate
I love having goals and aspirations. I think they apply to every facet of life and fitness and health is no different. But your fitnesss goals must be most firstly: attainable and secondly: fun to do. An example of a bad goal is: I want to lose 20 lbs. in two weeks and do nothing but starve myself and do cardio.
This is bad for a couple of reasons. One: that’s no fun at all. (I’ll be the first to tell you I hate cardio). And two: if you are somehow successfully, when you go back to a regular diet and lifestyle you’ll gain everything back and more. An example of a good goal is: I want to lose 5 lbs. in two weeks. It’s getting to be spring outside so I’ll obtain this by going for an extra walk or jog or walk outside and I’ll swap my usual high calorie lunch out for a lower calorie salad. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll enjoy seeing the results and you will be more motivated to build from there.
Do things together
Having someone else to serve as a support system can be a very powerful weapon. Finding someone who will motivate you and not convince you that it’s OK to miss your mark is key. If you and your other person are on the same page then the goals are much easier to achieve, and not to mention much more fun. Walk the halls on your lunch break at work or commit to going for that dreaded 6am run before work. An accountability partner will make you feel like you’re committed to somebody other than yourself.
I hope this helps and remember, no matter how you approach your first goals, be consistent, make it fun and do it together.