Before you begin your journey to a fitter lifestyle, we will outline a realistic approach to a successful fitness training programme, including accurately assessing your starting point, setting achievable goals, taking and analysing body measurements, performing fitness tests to measure your progress, keeping a training diary, and determining which exercises are best for you.
Armed with this new knowledge, you will come to appreciate why you are not intended to live a sedentary lifestyle, and commit to making health and exercise priorities in your life.
As everyone knows, there is no such thing as overnight success in any walk of life, and certainly not in the area of health and fitness. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of conflicting messages that do nothing to nourish our wellbeing.
On the one hand, it is impossible to escape media images of thin, toned, buffed and sculpted role models of quite out-of-reach physical perfection. On the other, advertising and the food industry pump fat-filled, sugar-coated, carbohydrate-rich food at us from every direction.
Consequently, we have become an unfit society in thrall to endless aspiration, and sold on the promise of nips, tucks, jabs, instant gratification and quick fixes. Quite simply, becoming fit and healthy – safely, effectively and in the long term –does not and will not happen quickly. You will, however, get real results if you follow this three-step plan:
Look at other areas of your life in which determination has been force for change. Such as passing exams, bringing up your children in the best way possible, getting a better job or making more money. Transfer some of this determination to the job of making yourself fit and healthy.
Have a goal in mind, such as running a half-marathon, fitting into a wedding dress or simply getting up the stairs without being out of breath. Determine your goals by analysing all aspects of your life and making a note of your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have set your goals, keep visualising how great you will feel once you have achieved them. This is something you are doing for yourself and no one else. Family and friends can try to motivate you but until you actually want to do it for yourself, it won’t work. After all, no one is asking them to make sacrifices – you are the one who has to change your lifestyle and do the physical training.
Gather as much knowledge as possible to plan your new personal training plan. It is not possible to get results without understanding how your body works and what type of training will be best for you. Be aware, though, that a little knowledge can be a bad thing. For example, the suggestion that resistance training will make you gain weight is a myth. The truth is that resistance training will make you gain lean muscle mass, which will have a positive effect on your metabolism and therefore make you lose fat.
Knowing what to eat, and when to eat it, is also essential. Without good nutrition you won’t have the energy to train, recover from training or see the benefits of your training. There are no short cuts or quick fixes – your nutrition plan will require preparation to make it practical for you to stick with it every day.
Once you have the basic knowledge, you can apply the correct training to achieve your goals. In some ways you have far more knowledge of yourself than a gym instructor because they have only known you for a matter of hours, whereas you have known yourself since the day you were born. You know how determined you can be and what your motivation is.
You know what you enjoy and what you dislike. You can be honest with yourself about how you look and how you want to look. You know how much energy you have and how much more energy you would like to have. Your exercise plan has to suit you and no one else.
Be practical and think ahead. For example, if you are travelling for business or on holiday, plan your training to be harder in the week before and after you are away. Don’t use the time away as an excuse – there is always some kind of training you can do, whether it’s going for a run or doing exercise in your hotel room. Keep your goal in sight and remember that consistency is the key to achieving it.
There are two types of people who want to get fit: those who think about results and those who think of excuses. If you look for excuses, you are setting yourself up to fail. If you focus on achieving results, you will win. From the moment read this article, the excuses stop and you set yourself on the path to success – to fitness and health.
Setting Your Goals
Before you start to exercise, you must be clear about what it is you want to achieve. Do you want to gain muscle, lose weight or run a marathon? These are all big goals and in order to achieve them, you need to prepare both your body and your mind.
Begin by setting out smaller goals. For example if you want to gain weight and building muscles, follow a weight-gain plan: Muscle or six-pax plan that incorporates a healthy diet and exercise. So that you can monitor your weight gain and muscle building progress, keep a training diary. Also, when you want to gain muscle, plan your training sessions carefully, enlisting the help of a personal trainer if necessary. They will be able to help with the appropriate type of exercise for specific muscles.
Make your own goal wheel
It is important to focus on other factors in your life that will have an effect on your goal. For example, if you want to gain weight, you will struggle if you have low self-esteem, suffer from lack of sleep and work too hard to do any exercise. Use a goal wheel to help you change your lifestyle and keep achieving. The goal wheel is similar to the wheel of a bicycle. The wheel has an outer rim, a hub in the centre and spokes running between the rim and the hub. Each of these spokes represents a different factor in your life. Because people’s lives are very different, you can make the spokes represent whatever you like.
An example would be spokes for physical exercise, social life, nutrition, sleep, family, work, injury and psychology. Each spoke has a score on it going from ten at the hub to zero at the rim. You personalize your wheel by putting a cross on each spoke. For example, if you take a little or no physical exercise, you would put a cross close to the rim of the physical exercise spoke. If your exercise routine is going well and you really enjoy it, mark a cross close to the hub.
Once you have put a cross on each spoke, join the crosses up. It is highly likely that you will have a jagged pattern within the wheel. Some crosses will be close to the hub and others will be farther away. Every spoke that has a cross close to the rim of the wheel represents the lifestyles factor that you need to work on. It is important to remember that all the factors are related.
Whatever your goal, set yourself a timeline, starting with where you are now and ending with where you want to get to. Place your smaller goals on the timeline and add notes next to the timeline reminding you of the other factors that will help you to achieve you goal, such as good nutrition.
You also need to always keep in mind the goals you have set yourself, this should help you stick to the training.
Big goals and small goals
At the front of your diary list the goals you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve them by. For example, if you weigh 60kg on 1 January and you want to gain 10 kg over six month, or 1.7kg per month, mark your desired weight – your small goal – on the appropriate page for each month; so on the page for 1 February, you would note that you want to weigh 61.7kg and on the page for 1 March, you would note that you want to weigh 63.4kg and so on.
Keeping a training diary will help you to achieve your goals and stay motivated. Make the diary realistic and useful. Don’t cram it with information that will become irrelevant later on in training – only note facts that motivate you and help you to track your progress.
A diary can help to re-motivate you as you look back through all the other fitness improvements you have made.
When gaining weight you may find that over the first six weeks of training and dieting you gain 5kg but then you don’t gain any in seventh week, which can lessen your motivation. However , its not just the weight gain that matters; for example, if you have been working out in an effort to build muscle, and could only work out for half an hour in your first week, but can now manage half an hour, this progress will motivate you to keep going.