If you’re getting pumped for the new year; an opportunity to put yourself and your health first and get back in the gym after months or years of procrastination, you probably need some guidelines that will keep you excited and motivated for longer than a few weeks, and hopefully through to this time next year and beyond.
One of the first things to consider is that longevity is key. You’re not going to get “shredded” or “bikini ready” in four weeks so don’t create a plan with that goal in mind. If you’re looking for a lifestyle change you should structure things with your schedule considered. You should have mini-goals with a realistic time frame. You should have some flexibility around other commitments, and you should ensure it is all enjoyable in the process.
If you’re planning on doing fasted cardio for an hour every morning, eating nothing but unprocessed foods that are home cooked and evenly portioned, doing three group classes and five weight training sessions per week, but you’re currently used to doing nothing, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure in all four areas of work/life considerations, realistic expectations, flexibility, and enjoyment.
Another thing to consider is your purpose of exercise. Do you care most about getting stronger? Do you care most about “toning up”? Do you care most about improving your ability to be active without feeling like death?
In most cases weight training should be your major focus, with a secondary consideration for group classes, cardio sessions, and social physical activity with an emphasis on the enjoyment aspect that might come with them. Weight training should be(come) your priority unless of course, you’re looking to excel in endurance activities and events above all else.
When it comes to your eating habits, you don’t need to go out and buy a nutribullet and twenty different fruits, vegetables, seeds, and superfoods, or sign up to a meal delivery service or quick fix diet program. Focus on increasing your protein intake first, by simply adding a protein powder to your daily intake, or increasing your consumption of chicken, steak, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, and for the vegans; tofu, lentils, and beans.
By simply adding more protein to your diet you will more than likely find yourself eating fewer calories overall each day/week and will be less inclined to attack those take-away meal options. I should mention that the combination of sufficient protein and a reasonably controlled calorie intake is the nutritional mastermind behind getting you stronger and leaner, and is a necessary consideration to keep that new exercise routine effective towards your goals.
You do also want to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption, somewhere around one to two fruits per day, and three or more serves of vegetables.
Beyond these guidelines, make it FUN!
Sure, go out and buy the coolest new colourful and exciting gym wear and a range of supplements that will increase your energy or make you feel wholesome. Invest in coaching from an expert or a personalised training and nutrition program to create structure and accountability. Build a motivating new gym playlist on spotify and tell all your friends about your awesome new life goals.
Above all, end 2016 with the same enthusiasm and excitement you start it with, just as a much healthier, happier you.