Climbing Back on the Fitness Horse
How did I ever get to this place? It seems like only yesterday I was back in college, playing video games all day while enjoying a smorgasbord of junk food from the all-you-can-eat coffee table buffet. And I never gained a single pound. Hitting the weights a couple times a week was enough to turn a diet of Ramen noodles and Slim Jims into bona fide muscle mass. It was awesome.
Unfortunately, that magic formula stopped working years ago. Trust me, I’ve tried to kick start it on more than one occasion. But unfortunately, poor eating habits these days only help to bulk up my mid-section and stretch out my love handles. And while the dad bod has recently become all the rage, even that requires “lifting” on a semi-regular basis.
The truth is, I know I’m not in great shape right now. And because I’m over forty many of my friends and family help me normalize my “new” body. But I know better. This is largely the result of years of my own bad habits. And if I want to make a change nobody will do it for me.
Luckily, I’ve been down this road before. I’ve been in and out of the gym many times in my life and I’ve picked up a thing or too along the way. So I’m sharing six powerful tips here that will make all the difference.
Tip #1 – Know Your Why
If you don’t have a strong emotional reason for getting in better shape none of the other tips matter much. There are many benefits like higher confidence, better sleep, increased happiness, and boosted energy to name just a few. Or maybe you just want to be able to open that jar of pickles or soda when you are charged with the task. Choose something that resonates strongly and connects with you emotionally. Because getting on track will require consistent effort. It will take time, you will be sore, and there will be many opportunities to quit. Don’t. Be mindful of why you are doing this in the first place so you will succeed despite the challenges.
Tip #2 – Get Started Now
Make a decision and jump. Don’t wait. If you procrastinate this step it’s likely you won’t ever start. Life is busy after all. And months can disappear quickly when you have a family. This time next year you’ll be another year older. You can be in the same (or worse) shape you are now or you will have a solid year of effort under your belt. The time will pass the same either way.
Tip #3 – Accept No Excuses
Make no mistake. The first two weeks you hit the gym will absolutely SUCK. You will feel pain like you may not even remember. Especially on leg day. Then it will take at least a few more weeks to form a habit. I’ve got to be honest here, the results may not feel worth the effort at first. But if you stick with it the results will come. And the pain is the worst at the beginning. Once you get rolling for a little while it gets much, much easier.
Tip #4 – Just Show Up
This has served me so well for so long. There have been countless occasions when my self talk nearly prevented me from going to the gym. And if enough of those days get strung together it can take you off track in a hurry. That’s why I’ve created a default response for anytime my brains gives me an excuse to be lazy. If I’m committed to go that day, I go. Period. It doesn’t matter if I’m only there for five minutes. I HAVE to show up. If I’m not feeling it, I leave. Simple as that. The benefit here is huge. Showing up establishes the habit that leads to long term success regardless of short term workout quality.
Tip #5 – Eat Less Pizza
This is without question the hardest part for me. I LOVE wings… and pizza… and Coke… and a ton of other junk food. But I know that this is a critical step to the fitness puzzle. Not only are those empty calories but they take the place of the fuel your body actually needs to grow muscle and be healthier. But we have to be realistic. We’re busy and it’s not always easy to eat healthy. Planning and prepping meals in advance helps tremendously. If you’re strength training you may also want to supplement your protein intake. And if you are training your butt off in the gym don’t you want to maximize the results of that effort?
Tip #6 – Phone a Friend
No matter how much willpower you have there will be days times you start to veer off track. It’s perfectly natural. Life throws a lot at us making it hard to stay the course consistently. That’s where a partner comes in. Ideally, you have a friend in your life who is looking for a change too. Or maybe you can inspire someone. In that case you could both join the local gym and be BFF workout buddies. The benefit is that you can hold each other accountable. If you don’t have someone in this scenario you could hire a personal trainer or perhaps even recruit someone from our Facebook Group. However you do it, having someone to bust your chops about your lame excuses is incredibly helpful toward your success.