It’s that time again! January 1st – the day on the calendar that everyone uses to start fresh. And as the masses make their plans for ways to better themselves, no resolution is heard quite so loudly as the promise to get in shape. Coming off a season of festivities centered around food, drink, and general indulgence, it’s only natural that we would want to clean up our acts and renew a commitment to be the best we can be.
For newcomers to the fitness world, this can be tough. It seems that the whole place is full of contradictions. Should you juice? Eat six meals a day? Go high protein or high fat? Should you slave away on the cardio machines or try that new set of DVDs? It’s easy to see why people can get confused, and confusion can lead someone to scrap their whole 2013 plan after only a few weeks.
But that doesn’t have to happen! Amid the confusion, there are some things that just about everyone can agree on, and by going into your resolution with these in mind you’ll have a better chance of being successful.
Universal Truth #1: Some Exercise is Better Than No Exercise
While you should still pick a routine, know that as long as you’re doing something you’re doing good. If you only have time for a walk, go for a walk. If you can take the stairs, take the stairs. But that being said…
Universal Truth #2: Pick a Workout Plan and Stick With It
There are plenty of plans out there to choose from: barbell routines and bodyweight routines, dance classes and cycle classes, insane DVDs and slightly less insane DVDs. Success will come from consistency, so make a plan for the days, weeks, and months ahead, and stick to it as best you can. If you do fall off track, take your schedule and just pick right back up.
Universal Truth #3: Good Form Is Important
It’s understandable that when starting a new exercise program you might not know exactly what you’re doing. Think of a yoga class; people spend years working on their form so don’t expect to walk into the gym already a master. You may have never squatted before – how low is low enough, where do your knees go, how do I add weight? You may have never Zumba’d before – how much hip shake is too much hip shake, is this song fast enough, am I wearing bright enough clothes? If you are reading this: congratulations, you know how to use a computer! Use search engines, websites, and forums to answer the questions you have so you can get the most out of whatever routine you choose.
Universal Truth #4: This Is Supposed To Be Fun
If you’ve given it your best shot (and two mediocre weeks does not count as your best shot) and you are miserable, change up your routine. Find a sport or a class or a method that you find enjoyable. No, it doesn’t have to be a barrel of laughs at the gym every day, but you need to find a way to have a good time and like it enough to keep at it.
Universal Truth #5: Write It Down
People who journal are more successful in sticking with their fitness goals. Write down what you eat in a day for a real look at your eating habits. Write down your exercise routine so you know what you’ve done and what you’re doing next. Write down how you feel so you can look back and see how stress might be affecting your life. Write down your measurements so you can see size lost if not weight on a scale. Whether we’re walking about food, weight, size, or another marker, keeping a written log of where you’ve been or where you’re going will help keep you on the right track.
Universal Truth #6: Eat Your Veggies
People can be very passionate about the diets they follow, and you would think that the Atkins folks and the Vegans would have no common ground. But the one thing that can be agreed upon by every diet I’m aware of is that vegetables are good for you, and you should eat a lot of them. If you think you’re eating enough, go ahead and eat a few more just to be certain.
Universal Truth #7: Stop Drinking Soda
There are folks on both sides of the fence when it comes to diet soda, so I’ll just address the regular variety. No one out there is going to tell you that soda is good for you. It’s nothing but empty calories and a huge sugar rush. Same goes for all sugar sweetened drinks. Stop drinking them.
Universal Truth #8: It’s Not That Easy
Yes, the basic tenants are easy: burn more than you consume to lose weight, burn less than you consume to gain. Actually putting those principles into play for the long haul is not a walk in the park. You’ll have to deal with willpower, motivation, and any of your other inner demons, but you’re no different than anyone else. We all deal with those things, and it gets much easier with time. Overcoming obstacles to get the body you want is what makes the process so rewarding.
Universal Truth #9: Excuses Get You Nowhere
Things come up unexpectedly, life gets busy, and healthy habits can be the first to go. Know that you’re only cheating yourself. Everyone has reasons why they can’t eat a good meal or can’t make it to the gym, but part of making a commitment to your fitness goals is finding a way around these reasons. Again, we’re not saying it’s easy, but it is completely doable.
Universal Truth #10: You Can Do It
Barring any extreme circumstances (and I mean something like a coma and not a stubbed toe), there is no reason you can’t do this. Work hard, stay dedicated, and commit to yourself and you’ll reap the returns. If you don’t believe in yourself, know that I do – you can do this! Random internet stranger here sending you good vibes.