10 Quick Fitness Tips
Getting in Shape Is Hard
There is a reason why our televisions and computer screens are filled with people that look like they haven't had a carb since infancy. We look up to these people because they look the way we wish we could. Before we devour a gallon of strawberry swirl ice cream and fall asleep upon our tear-soaked pillows because we can't look that way, we need to remember a few things. The hunks and lingerie models on TV have jobs that require them to look like that. Meanwhile, we common folk have bills, 9-to-5ers, and (not I, but many, many others) kids to feed. I mean not to discourage all of you reading this, but the truth is the truth.
But ALAS! There are a few things even we can take care of to ensure a more healthy lifestyle without devoting ourselves completely to maintaining our godlike figures (because I'm sure we're all chiseled out of marble).
1. Don't Be a Hero
We all know those times of the year when the gym is absolutely packed: the first two weeks of January, the week before Spring Break, and the first two weeks of May. We fret not because these periods only last for a week or two because people eventually stop coming. Honestly, gyms rely on these weeks to keep running because people pay their membership fees assuming that they will still go.
These people trying to either fulfill a New Year's Resolution or shape up their beach body will burn themselves out too quickly. Getting in shape is a process that requires time, and to facilitate this process, you can't dive right in like that. It's similar to diving into the deep end before you can swim. Once you do, you can bet your ass that you won't try that again. Paddle around in the shallow end a little bit so that you will eventually be ready to hold your own in the deep end. The first few times you get back into your exercise routine, take it easy. Prepare your body so that your body doesn't give up later on.
2. Have a plan
Another major reason why people will simply stop exercising is they just don't have a plan. A saying goes, "Just getting to the gym is half the battle." What that quote fails to mention, though, is the other half. Fitness doesn't happen through sheer gym osmosis, and if it did, then I really wouldn't need to write this article.
Develop a routine. Ask yourself questions: When do I have time to work out? What do I need to work on most? How long can I exercise? What kind of routine best fits my limitations? Sitting down and thinking about this stuff prevents us from showing up at the gym, flinging some weights around, and calling it a day. First of all, that doesn't work. Also, it gives us a feeling that we're going somewhere, and not just running in place.
3. Know What You're Eating
I know what it's like living on a budget, and I know how hard it is to eat the right foods while on a budget. At the same time, by law companies are forced to label the nutritional values of everything they distribute. Nothing can really stop them from "stretching the truth" on the front of a box or package, but taking two seconds to turn that bad boy around will tell you everything you need to know.
I'm not one to suggest blanket recommendations for everyone concerning calorie intake and such because, depending on your body type and intensity of your workouts, everyone's diet should be different. Check this site out to get a ballpark figure on what kind of diet you should try out.
4. Know When to Eat
This topic goes uncovered far too much in my opinion. Ever since we were young, our parents have told us things like not to eat after ten o'clock or that eating before exercise will make you sick. While Time Magazine did debunk the myth about the importance of eating times, there are some commonsensical things to remember.
If you clicked that link up there, you will notice the quote, "No matter what you eat, your body will store extra calories as fat." This idea goes back to the plan I stated earlier. If you've developed a successful workout routine, you will notice that A) you don't eat a full meal before your workout, and B) you need to replenish your body after a workout. Therefore, when planning your workout schedule, know when your meals are to realize the time that best fits with your meal schedule.
5. Avoid the "Buddy System"
We all love the feeling of someone else going through the same situations that we are. Therefore, common sense tells us that when beginning an exercise program, we're sure as Hell going to take someone with us. A workout buddy, in and of itself, is a great thing to have, but only if they want to be a workout buddy. One of my favorite writers, John Cheese, breaks this phenomenon down perfectly here (just scroll down to #4).
Who's to say that their personal goals co-align with yours so perfectly? In my experiences, as soon as one person jumps ship, you can rest assured that everyone will eventually quit. If it is your personal goal, make it your personal goal independent of others' assistance.
6. Know Your Gym
I use the term "gym" pretty loosely here because or the popularity of home workouts (Insanity, P90X, etc.) and simple aerobic activities (jogging, biking... parkour, maybe). Meanwhile, you need to know the benefits and limitations of your "gym." Let's assume that your goal is to trim up. Does your gym have ample space for treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes, and resistance machines? Say you want some bulk. Does your gym even have free weights? Do they offer personal trainers? What are some classes they offer: Yoga? Boxing? Spinning? Fight Club?
If you're willing to spend the necessary funds on stocking your own house with what you need, go for it. Otherwise, choose a place and have stuff available to support your goals. If you don't know these things, you won't know if you will even have the means to attain your goals.
7. Take Pictures
So you feel pretty good about yourself after a couple weeks of going through your routine. You're eating healthily; you're working out consistently, and you're beginning to notice results. It's okay to chart your results. Go ahead, take some pictures to allow yourself to bask in your own physical dominance. That being said, don't be that guy that does the "bathroom self-photo on Facebook" thing. No one likes that guy. Keep them to yourself because once you start to notice changes, over time others will, too. Plus, hopefully, your goal isn't to get in shape for others.
It's beneficial to have checkpoints over time. Otherwise, you will keep looking at yourself in the mirror wondering if anything is changing at all. Trust me, if you keep at it, a change will come.
8. Balance Your Workouts
If you live around a college campus like I do, you know not to even try to go for the bench press. There will always be a line of frat guys in cut-off UnderArmor shirts waiting for their turn. What these beefcakes don't realize is that 80% of their bodies are unaffected by this workout. Their knees will suffer under the sheer magnitude of their bulbous chests.
Also, many of us (especially during our first few trips) will attempt to get an entire full-body workout in. Shy away from that. Repetitively breaking down your entire body will only increase fatigue and prevent you from continuing the next time. Depending on you specialized workout program, change things up.
9. Stay Motivated
We all get to a point when we believe that we have "earned a day off." Unless your schedule calls for a day off, don't do it. It's difficult to stay motivated every single day, and this is why many people will abandon their routines at the drop of a hat. One day off leads to another one until you start thinking, "Tomorrow, I'll pick it back up." And we all know that tomorrow never comes.
It's imperative to find a way to get our chubby tushes out of bed or off the couch to do something to the point that exercise is as commonplace as going to work. It becomes a part of your daily life because you like the way you look and feel, and you'll be damned if you lose it.
10. Don't Quit
This final tip seems pretty self-explanatory, but I can't dismiss it. Once you quit something you become a quitter. People will sugarcoat this fact by saying things like, "I just couldn't do it anymore," or, "I just didn't have time." If those are legitimate reasons, then you should feel fine. If you are making up excuses just to make yourself feel better, then your fitness goal just wasn't that important to you.
If beginning and maintaining a workout routine is important enough to you, you will find a time, place, and opportunity to get something done. Your body is completely in your control, and it is up to you to change it in whatever way you see fit. Just remember that it's quite a bit easier to stay in shape than it is to get back into shape.