As we welcome the end of December and 2016, you will no doubt be setting some New Year fitness resolutions. The internet and social media will be awash with hundreds of thousands of articles outlining the latest Hollywood fitness trend or maybe a get fit quick scheme that can drop 4st. in one month. It would incredibly arrogant of myself as a lowly fitness professional to even suggest that everyone else is wrong because, let’s face it, all opinions are based on fact to some degree or another.
I have played sport and trained for some years and have found various ways of coping with my training and more prominently avoiding the ‘New Year, New Me,’ craze by making my goals ever changing and continuous throughout the year.
For those who are determined to introduce a few healthy habits into their lives or to completely transform yourself, I have concocted a few rules (and sourced a few from some journals) to help give, what I believe, is a good starting point before pursuing your fitness goals.
1) Always doubt information found on the Internet
A bit rich of me to say eh? posting an article online about what people should do. This is why I would re-adjust this statement to read, always doubt information found on the internet UNLESS, it is referenced and/ or peer reviewed.
It is very easy to find someone on the internet that simply agrees with your point of view. Just remember that it may well not be screened for accuracy by one who is qualified to do so.
I’m not saying that the information will be wrong, just be wary that it may not have been reviewed by the experts in their field. Check the source!
2) Always question the benefits of a health related supplement
Every heard of the phrase, ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’? Well the same principle can be applied to supplements. It’s in the name really, to be used as an extra to a balanced diet, not a replacement.
Many of these companies are out to sell and may or may not operate within UK law. They may even be produced in somewhere like the USA which, we all know, have slightly lax rules on what can or can’t go into food products.
Always look into the products you are purchasing by looking at the ingredients label, the simpler the label, the better the product will be. My own personal rule is that, ‘If I can’t pronounce it, then I am NOT putting it in my body!’
3) Don’t worry about what you look like; think about what you’re doing!
Everyone knows that the key to achieving your desired results from a workout is to look your best while doing it!… Said no one ever.
A gym can be an incredibly intimidating environment, even for well seasoned veterans. There are etiquettes and ways of doing things that can make someone feel as if they’ve wondered into a whole other society.
However, As a seasoned veteran I can promise you that trying to do an exercise, even if it’s not completely correct, is generally respected, it’s the people pulling poses in the mirror that are secretly filmed and mocked.
Hard work is never ridiculed in a gym, only vanity is. So long as you come out sweating buckets and feeling like you’ve achieved something. That is what really matters!
4) Always forego a lifestyle related bad habit.
You’re an adult, you have every right to live your life as you wish it and it is no business of mine to tell you otherwise without you seeking my own personal help.
I am a big advocate of the 80:20 rule which simply states, if you get it right 80% of the time, i.e. meals are spot on and you’re exercising regularly then for 20% of the time, have a piece of cake or a beer. There’s no need to deprive yourself of the things you enjoy so long as you can balance out the ratios.
It’s as Oscar Wilde said ‘Everything in Moderation, Including Moderation.’ Unfortunately, if you’re trying to become a seasoned athlete, this rule may not work for you.
5) Never take the health related advice from a Hollywood Actor/ Actress who is promoting a particular product or service
There is no connection between physical attractiveness and wellness. Often when I see an advert pedalling some super weight loss pill, I groan. The greed-based willingness in many corporations to separate people, with limited knowledge of the area, from their hard earned cash can be a common practice.
If you’re stuck, look at workouts that some of these stars follow, but just think, ‘why are they sharing this with me?’ It may be for a product they are sponsoring or they may just be a good person sharing what’s worked for them.
6) Don’t worry too much about purchasing the latest exercise related Gadget or gizmo but always be wary before engaging in the latest fitness fad.
This is not to be confused with me saying, ‘Don’t buy a FitBit,’ I’m simply saying be aware of what it does, FitBits are great for tracking your progress and quantifying qualitative results. They measure roughly how many steps you’ve taken, what your heart rate is and roughly how many calories you’ve burned.
Although these pieces of info are great, it can make one too focused on numbers and tiny details that shouldn’t be quantifiable. If you are a seasoned or professional athlete it does matter what percentage of protein you intake to +/- 1. However if you’re only looking to get fitter or eat better, try to focus on ratios rather than decimal points and don’t be over the moon or disheartened because a small robot on your wrist tells you that you are a god or a failure.
The second part is fitness fads. As stated throughout this article, try to research it first before you get too sucked in.
7) Always listen to your body
If you’re having a bad day, you hurt, you have a headache, you have a small ‘niggle’ in your knee or a pain in your back, Don’t overdo it. Believe it or not there is such a thing as over-training and you don’t make your gains in the gym itself, that is achieved by resting.
There is a fine line between listening to your body and making excuses, however. Be cautious to injury, but don’t just think, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow,’ because tomorrow will never actually arrive.
I used to work with someone who would constantly cancel plans or meet ups because, in their words, they ‘HAD’ to go to the gym. As a result of this obsession, they got ill, and eventually became worse off for it.
8) Accept the fact that because you’re getting older, you may not be able to do exactly as much as when you were a teenager
It is common knowledge that our cells tend to function less well with age which has a negative impact on one’s ability to perform physical tasks. Just because you could lift 50kg when Bench pressing 4 years ago, doesn’t mean that you can now.
That’s not to say that you ever will again, one just needs to take baby steps and recondition correctly before pushing your limits again.
9) Take a moment to plan your next move
Living in the moment can be exhilarating and great! A YOLO attitude to life can be great fun, but it can land you in places that are pretty ridiculous.
Observing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a good place to assess where you are but never forget,, ‘healthy body = healthy mind and vice versa.’
When things feel like they’re too much or you just simply don’t have time to look after your health, think again. Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian Economist who first noted the 80:20 connection. This particular principle as opposed to the one mentioned earlier is simply reversed. Roughly 20% of the exercises and habits have 80% of the impact. This does not necessarily mean eating heartily or going to the gym are not important, just that they are not as significant as the key activities. (speedendurance.com).
In simpler terms, if someone was to ride or walk to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, eat fruit rather than crisps and make very subtle life changes that don’t necessarily take up too much time. Then you might see a bigger difference in yourself than you’d expect.
10) Always seek advice from a fitness professional or Personal Trainer
Use the men and women you see showing others the equipment, tap their brains ask them their opinions.
We as trainers are in those gyms because we all love what we do! And because of that, most have worked really hard to get there and are constantly up to date with the right info from the right sources.
If you can afford personal training this New year, Do it, you will certainly not regret it!
Peterson, J. A. (2016). Ten “Never/Evers” to Help Ensure That Your Health Won’t Improve in the New Year. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal , 52.