Executing a Successful Fitness Plan
The secret to getting fit is much more simple than you might think. We have all been unnecessarily taught that fitness is all about sweating profusely and suffering. In the process of getting fit you’ll certainly see an increased heart rate and some heavy breathing. But, nothing like what we see on The Biggest Loser; that kind of exercise only works under supervised conditions, and it rarely works long term anyway. The real change happens in your cranium. Wash away your preconceived notions of fitness and listen for a moment. Don’t think of fitness of a series of extra things you need to do in your life. Instead think of it as developing new habits and ditching what doesn’t work. Not doing the things that don’t work will probably take you most of the way to being fit anyway.
Don’t Throw Interceptions:
The best quarterbacks in the NFL don’t make many mistakes. They’re taught that winning the game is sometimes more about not losing it than it is about doing something crazy to win it. Only in desperate circumstances is the quarterback called upon to make a spectacular play. Remember, Defenses can score points too. They’re always actively trying to cause a fumble or an interception. To keep moving forward, however slowly, the offense has to be conservative. Fitness is the same way. If you want to throw a 60 yard touchdown pass you are welcome to try. But I suspect that if you’re overweight right now that you have a defense in place that is designed to take away the big plays.
First Things First:
Plug the leaking boat first. What are you currently doing that is counterproductive to fitness? More likely than not it’s the food you eat. Start small. Cut out one destructive calorie source from your diet at a time. Do you drink alcohol? Stop it; one mojito has roughly the same calories as a Snicker bar (250). Speaking of the Snicker bar, people don’t realize how much candy they eat. Be strict with yourself about the candy and allow yourself perhaps one treat per day and no more. That’s another 300+ calorie saving. And cheese – cut the cheese consumption. One slice of swiss cheese is 100 calories. If you’re eating a bunch of cheese then that could very well be your problem right there. Cheese is a wonderful food – if you can metabolize it. If none of these foods is a problem for you, consider cutting down on white bread. It’s essentially just mushy sugar that does nobody any good. If you eat a lot of it you could be consuming 500-1000 calories a day in bread alone.
The Math: Let’s think conservatively here. Between the beer or some other alcoholic drink, the candy, cheese and bread you could be eating 1100 calories of useless stuff per day. The average diet requires 2000 calories per day in order to not gain or lose weight. That means you only have 900 calories left to eat real food. Start your fitness plan by simply not eating, or cutting in half, the foods that do your body harm. You’re throwing interceptions when you eat that stuff. It’s hard to come back from that.
The Offensive Plan:
Now that you’ve quit fumbling the ball behind the line of scrimmage, it’s time to start moving forward. Again, start small. Do not do more than you can easily fit into your schedule. The goal here is to change habits so that the transition from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one is barely noticeable. It takes longer, but it’s successful in the long run. If you don’t work out at all, start with 15 minutes of somewhat intense cardio exercise per day. Here’s a 15 minute workout you can do to get you started:
200 jumping jacks, 50 Keith sit-ups (lay flat, arms extended over your head. Sit up straight and reach for the ceiling. You should look like an “L”. Keep arms toward the ceiling as you lower back down), 50 squats (no weights, feet planted on the ground shoulder width apart), 25-50 pushups (alternate wide and narrow), 50 lunges (25 each leg). Do that as many times as is required to get to 15-20 minutes. Your heart rate will be up, and you’ll feel great. It doesn’t take much time, equipment or space.
Yoga: Buy a Yoga DVD and do as much or as little of it as you like on alternating days. I’m not telling you here to pop in the DVD to do a full hour or hour and a half (unless you feel up to it). I’m telling you to pop it in every other day and just do what you can do for 15 or 20 minutes. Your muscles need it and so does your brain.
Developing the Habit:
People who dive into exercise and other life changing activities fail because they change too much too soon. They don’t make permanent changes because they never see their new routine as a lifelong change. They do it to get in shape, always keeping in mind that once they reach their goal they can relax. Fitness doesn’t work that way, not unless you want to hire a personal trainer who will live with you and push you all along the way. Fitness and general healthfulness are all about making small and positive changes to your life, one at a time, methodically. A friend of mine likes to say “Any forward movement is better than no forward movement.” Admittedly that doesn’t sound terribly inspiring, but that’s how life works. If you want to write a book, don’t think about the complete book. Think about the first chapter. If you want to score a touchdown, don’t think about the end zone. Think about the first 10 yards. When you see life as a series of small steps you don’t need to worry about the end result because it’ll happen naturally.