10 Tips to Keep You on Track for Success
Working out more; eating less; and losing the excess weight we spent the previous year accumulating; all are worthy fitness goals which are likely to top many New Year’s resolution lists in 2014. With the dawn of a new year we are confronted with the reality of our lives. It’s at this time that we question many of aspects of our lives – are we satisfied with our relationships, our career path, the contributions we make to society, our present lifestyle, and the thoughts which influence how our life has unfolded.
One major regret people have is that they have not invested enough time in what matters most of all – their health and well being.
Indeed, without a solid foundation of healthy eating and regular exercise our lives become less easily navigable as we age. We see our youthfulness slipping away, minor injuries occur more often and more easily, and we may even become depressed and anxious regarding the future. Such a state clearly affects all that we do. However, by applying sufficient time and energy to building our physical health, our mental and emotional well being are, by extension, also well supported.
By being fit and healthy our quality of sleep is improved, we become less prone to depression and anxiety, our confidence levels soar, and we simply feel better about ourselves and what the future may hold for us. So, to be your best in 2014, we’ve put together 10 training and nutrition tips to ensure you achieve your fitness goals and get into the shape of your life. Let’s do it!
Tip 1: Set Specific Goals
As the new year begins you must know exactly what it is you want to achieve from your training plan – without a firm set of specific goals to bolster your efforts and remind you why you’ve chosen fitness as a lifestyle, your approach to achieving your health, well being, and physique objectives, may lack direction.
Put your goals down in writing, review them regularly (this step is important as it will help your subconscious mind to create the circumstances through which your goals will be manifested as physical reality), truly believe you are capable of accomplishing each goal and, most importantly, make your goals specific to what you want to achieve.
Being specific about our goals brings into greater awareness what we must do to achieve them and strengthens our commitment to doing whatever is necessary to attain the results we seek.
For example, instead of writing “I will go to the gym each day and lift weights”, write: “I will go to the gym each day for the express purpose of progressively becoming stronger on several key resistance movements (list them) with a view to building 10lbs of lean muscle over the next 12 months”).
Tip 2: Prioritize Proper Nutrition
With all the variables integral to boosting health and supporting a fitness lifestyle, nutrition would, for my money, rank as the most important. Firstly, without a correct nutrient balance based on our individual requirements and formulated in line with our specific goals, we would lack the energy to train to our fullest capacity and recover from our arduous workout sessions.
Further, the many enzymes, other proteins and biological processes so critical to fat loss, muscle development and energy production would be severely curtailed without the regular consumption of healthy foods. Center your New Year’s plan on the right nutrition for your needs.
Tip 3: Plan, Make a List & Execute
As well as establishing a list of clear, specific fitness goals to guide our daily actions, two further strategies are also to be implemented to ensure we stay on track: daily planning and the execution of our plan(s). Though reflecting on our goals will remind us of what we need to do, compiling a daily checklist of what is to be done each day will better enable us to take small attainable actions which will lead to accomplishing our big picture, long range, goals.
Take a few minutes each morning to map out your meals and training plan for the day. Then, once your mission has been accomplished, tick each of these off. Such a visual reminder of your willingness and ability to execute is extremely encouraging and will enable you to take charge of your training outcomes.
Tip 4: Attack the Iron
I’ve relayed this message many times before, but it bears repeating: New Year’s weight loss will not be achieved by exclusively hitting the treadmill or elliptical day in and day out; we must include, if not emphasize, resistance work to fully stimulate our metabolic rate – to burn more fat, develop more muscle (a metabolically active tissue which requires a fair portion of our daily caloric intake to support) and build a firm and aesthetically pleasing shape.
Tip 5: Don’t Skip the Cardio
If weight training fuels our metabolic fires to keep us hard and muscular, cardio provides the gasoline to intensify the fat-stripping effect. Sustained cardio activity is necessary to ensure we burn stored body fat directly and, when methods such as HIIT are employed, to maintain a high metabolism (the rate at which we burn stored calories at rest). The result? We get in shape and stay in shape.
Aerobic exercise also will help to improve the efficiency of our cardiovascular system, thus enabling us to perform repetitive tasks (including those of a sensually enjoyable nature) for longer, promoting proper digestion, boosting brain health, and encouraging feelings of euphoria and well being, all of which, incidentally, will keep us on task as we tick of our daily list of fitness objectives.
Tip 6: Limit the Simple Carbs
One nutritional mistake many make, and one that is easy to repeat given our human propensity for favoring sweet foods over more healthy culinary choices, is the regular consumption of high sugar fare. Though an essential way in which to supply easily usable energy to power intensive workouts, carbohydrate intake, in particular the simple variety, can, if injudiciously planned for, do more harm than good.
Whenever we snack on cookies, cola drinks, or other refined simple-sugar based food items, our blood sugar levels rise and our body releases an abundance of insulin to promote the successful storage of the sugars we have consumed. However, because our muscles and liver are usually well stocked with glycogen (stored carbohydrates which are, in turn, converted into glucose for energy) any additional rapidly absorbed simple carbs will likely be converted into fat.
The more insulin that is released, the more blood sugar that is stored (either for energy or as fat) until eventually our blood sugar may be driven below the level needed to keep many of our biological processes from running as they should.
To enhance your New Year’s weight loss success, aim to avoid sugary foods altogether and prioritize complex carbohydrates, which are less rapidly absorbed and which are less likely to promote the excessive insulin output simple varieties often necessitate.
Tip 7: Supplement Wisely
Achieving our weight loss and muscle building goals requires a solid nutritional foundation. Accomplishing this with whole foods alone, considering the busy lives most of us lead, may not be practical nor preferable.
Including a variety of key nutritional supplements such as whey protein, glutamine, creatine, a full spectrum of vitamin and mineral formulations and, for people seeking to put on lean muscle mass, a sugar free carbohydrate product intra and/or post workout, we can achieve a better nutritional balance and ensure the inclusion of certain nutrients that would be near impossible to obtain in the correct dosages through whole foods alone.
Tip 8: Enjoy the Process
With all the workout scheduling, meal and supplementation planning, goal setting, and rest and recovery needed to produce optimal fitness results, we often find ourselves working what is in essence a full time job. Rather than considering your fitness lifestyle a job, however, think of it as a labor of love, a passion that will reward you each day with a strong mind and body, and the energy (both mental and physical) needed to successfully attack any task.
A fitness lifestyle should enhance your life rather than detract from it. Without the good nutrition, regular exercise, positive thinking and recovery strategies so integral to maintaining a fitness lifestyle, our quality of life would be compromised. So enjoy each workout, each healthy meal, and each consumed supplement, secure in the knowledge that what you’re doing is of benefit to your life and will immeasurably improve your life satisfaction, if not the longevity of your life as a whole.
Tip 9: Intensity, Intensity, Intensity, then Recovery
Training with the white hot aggression is a requirement to produce impressive gains. Once complete, leveling off to achieve complete rest and relaxation is equally as essential when planning any fitness program. One without the other is likely to produce mediocre results. When in the gym, aim to extract every ounce of energy from yourself; after each session spend much of your time with your feet up and heart rate down so as to translate your gym efforts into measurable results.
Tip 10: Ignore the Haters & Stay Focused
To successfully achieve your fitness goals and to maintain a lifestyle conducive to the ongoing fulfillment of all that is necessary to keep the gains coming year after year, you will need to become somewhat of an individualist, mentally strong and able to self motivate in order to stay focused when the going gets tough.
Becoming successful in any endeavor, including fitness, means you will attract your fair share of haters, people who wish they could be in your position but because of their lack of skill, and poor attitude in general, are only ever able to criticize from the sidelines (in fact, the more successful you become, the more criticism you will attract – this is a fact of life).
While secretly admiring your efforts, such haters may, behind your back, verbally diminish the progress you’ve made. As 2014 begins, do not let anyone steal your dreams, including the well meaning family and friends who profess to have your best interests in mind. Set your fitness goals high, selectively befriend other successful like-minded people through which to exchange encouragement, knowledge and support, and stay focused as you become better than ever in the New Year. You can do it!