With the right training and nutritional approach, and a lifestyle centered on the progressive attainment of one’s fitness objectives, we can all achieve our desired shape with relative ease. Step by step and with persistence, the pounds will drop and muscles will appear where previously only fatty deposits existed. However, staying in shape is another matter entirely. A tendency to revert to old ways of living has plagued many an aspiring fitness lifestyle devotee for as long as barbells and treadmills have existed. Once our fitness objectives are achieved, many of us are both mentally and physically exhausted after months of caloric restriction and intense training. This often results in a surrender to the many temptations of a life antagonistic to health and well-being.
The occasional small piece of pizza or bite of cake, of negligible concern on their own, make way for the routine consumption of high calorie fare.
Why is it that many fitness-minded folk enjoy long term health and vitality while others, despite their best efforts, continue to lapse in their commitment to becoming better versions of themselves? For starters, the former are able to successfully incorporate and establish compatible training and eating strategies (whatever this means for each individual) as part of their overall lifestyle, while, for the latter group, a succession of diets and training approaches appears to have placed them on a treadmill to nowhere. These people are forever taking two steps forward, and one step back.
Indeed, the key to staying in shape, even during Thanksgiving, the season of the gorge-fest, is to find a fitness plan that works for you, one that is both sustainable and effective, and make it a permanent part of your lifestyle. Here are 5 tips to help you devise a workable fitness plan, to ensure continuous fitness success.
Step 1: Be Consistent
We are constantly informed of the importance of consistency in relation to fitness success. This is because consistency in eating, training, resting, supplementation and positive expectations will secure for you all of your training goals. This one component really is the secret to sustainable fitness results. No other factor is of greater importance.
Now, as a trainer, I do occasionally encounter individuals who do not truly put into practice the valuable training and nutritional advice they are given. These people adopt one practice only to replace it with another several weeks later, and on it goes. One approach, after another, after another, and they still find themselves covered in fat and generally out of shape. If only they were to practice a little patience and dig in for the long haul.
Much success in life is a byproduct of persistence in the face of adversity.
Fitness plans (including the many featured on this site) are not, at first, easy. However, over time they become an established part of who we are and what we do, and the longer we persist, the easier they are to sustain. So, be consistent, as all training regimes are efficacious to a certain degree, but you will not know to what extent unless you give them a decent shot.
Step 2: Be Diligent
Not to be confused with consistency, diligence in relation to fitness training is the earnest and persistent application of sound training concepts. In other words, doing whatever is necessary to secure long term fitness gains.
Quit screwing around and get it done.
Doing all of the rights things, at the right time, with no compromising or skimping on quality of execution. For optimal health and fitness outcomes we must combine the two most important determinants of training progression – be consistently diligent.
Step 3: Fall Down 10 Times, Get Up 11 Times
With the Thanksgiving season upon us, many culinary temptations can cause us to sabotage our gym efforts. First of all, before indulging, ask yourself whether the over-consumption of high calorie foods will help or hinder your chances of building the body you desire. Remember, when getting in shape (and staying that way) we’re faced with many daily choices – you know what the right choices are! Practice consistency and diligence and make choices which push you closer to your goals.
Secondly, the occasional feast can be a great way to stimulate our metabolism while allowing us to enjoy another facet of life. If you do ‘stumble’ and eat too many calories, do not fear. Laugh it off and recommence your training efforts with renewed vigor. So long as you don’t form a pattern of unhealthy eating, the occasional splurge will not harm you, and may in fact provide just the balance you need to continue achieving your training objectives. We all make nutritional transgressions – what counts is whether you come out on top.
Step 4: Do Not Obsess
In working as a trainer for many years I have noticed that people who constantly obsess over whether they will fit into those new jeans by summer or how badly that cookie they ate last night will sabotage their training efforts are less likely to achieve their fitness objectives compared to those who maintain a more relaxed demeanor and don’t stress over the slightest transgression.
By obsessing over our fitness goals we attract significant stress into our lives. Attendant with increased psychological stress are elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which, when routinely secreted, may contribute to unwanted weight gain and the degradation of muscle tissue. By patiently and persistently working toward our fitness goals we are assured the best possible outcome.
By stressing over a perceived lack of progress we seriously stifle our ability to maintain a fitness lifestyle.
Furthermore, by obsessing over that last roll of body fat we may even be prompted to throw in the towel and quit our efforts outright. Body image stress, if left to fester, may become overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable to where we lose our ability to focus on the training and nutritional variables that will enable us to succeed over the long term. Because obsession and stress invariably cause feelings of pain and uncertainty (states all humans seek to avoid), we eventually quit the behaviors which provoke such feelings (in our present example, our fitness lifestyle).
Step 5: No Excuses
Another quality which further distinguishes the successful fitness adherent from one who is consistent only in their inconsistency is a ‘no excuses’ attitude founded upon the total accountability for which we must, as agents of our own good luck, strive to achieve. It seems that the people who fail to reach their fitness targets most are those least likely to hold themselves accountable and responsible for the results they seek.
By removing excuses we help to eliminate the failure that is so easy to rationalize when placed in the hands of others, or that which we feel is caused by the circumstances of our life.
The decisions we make, and the actions we take, are rightly or wrongly contingent upon the choices we are routinely faced with. Provided we are equipped with sufficient nutrition and training information (a good selection of which is freely available on this site) we have no excuses for making the wrong choices. For example, we know we must work with great intensity to create the muscle micro-trauma needed to force our muscles to grow. We may however choose to train in a half-hearted manner, in defiance of such an important protocol. When we subsequently fail to gain any muscle we can only blame ourselves. So don’t harass your office colleagues for ‘exposing’ you to forbidden foods, don’t blame your training partner for not pushing you hard enough. Take responsibility and be accountable for your own training progress.
Do Not Waver
Using the above the tips to boost fitness success (in conjunction with whatever training plan you have determined works best for you) will ensure steady progress and the long term adoption of a fitness lifestyle conducive to permanent positive change. We all falter from time to time – the key in our quest for fitness results is to first understand that our lives will often conspire against the gains we seek. Though we may not be able to change the environments we work in, the people we associate with, or the many interruptions to our schedule, we do have the power to choose wisely in the small things that matter most.
So remember, never back down – when faced with obstacles to success, rather than looking for blame or for an excuse to compromise our results, choose to continue, to be consistent, to be diligent and accountable. Stay in control and focused. Don’t obsess over the occasional speed bump, and leave the worry for those who have not effectively prepared for the worst.