As we (hopefully) turn the corner toward spring, more and more folks will be gearing up to shed those unwanted winter quarantine pounds.
So I challenged a personal trainer friend of mine and asked him:
“If you had just a few minutes to transform someone’s fitness forever, and you could never speak to that person again, what advice would you give them?”
Here’s the 4 gems he answered with:
1. Try not to do too much too soon.
Waiting rooms are full of weekend warriors who injured themselves or fizzled out by going hard when their bodies simply weren’t ready. Sometimes these are men trying to relive the “glory years” not realizing they’re not in their twenties anymore. But women are often guilty of this too.
Remember, the biggest transformations happen over time. That’s why, when it comes to fitness, it’s best to play the long game. Plan out how you can ramp up gradually over 6-12 weeks, depending on where you are now.
2. Each week, eat a bit better than the previous week.
Many people make the mistake of thinking it’s ‘all or nothing’ when it comes to diet. In so doing, they perpetuate an unhealthy cycle of feast or famine over and over again in their lives.
Keep in mind that the goal is not perfection, it’s progress. A bit less alcohol…a bit more water…a bit less sugar…a bit more vegetables…if you’ll only persist, these’ll add up to BIG changes in the long term – and it won’t be such a shock to the system.
3. Set a personal best of some kind in every workout.
You can do this by adding weight, reps, shortening rest periods – even by running the same mileage as last time with the goal of it feeling easier. Point being, for your body to adapt (and get stronger) it needs to be challenged.
This means expanding your comfort zone. Yet many people rerun the exact same routines ad nauseum, and mysteriously expect things to change. With tip #1 in mind, the idea is to push just a bit beyond your comfort zone each time, not somewhere out in the stratosphere!
As a bonus, it can be motivating to hit new highs every time you lace up your running shoes, jump on a virtual spin class, or walk into a gym (when these do finally reopen).
4. Make your goals about things you can control vs. things you can’t.
Everybody’s metabolism is different. Some people lose weight faster. That’s why setting a goal to e.g. ‘lose ten pounds this month’ can be counterproductive. Even if you make some truly positive progress with your habits, the scale might not always reflect it at first.
You’re always better off setting goals about the process itself, like e.g. to ‘do five workouts this week’. This is within your control, and it teaches you to give your focus to the ACTIONS that create success long term vs. outcomes over which you have no control.
In general, I tell patients to make HEALTH the goal. If you’re willing to do that, the pounds will often fall away on their own.
The above four principles may seem simple, but they do have the power to transform your results – not only in fitness, but in ANY area of your life. And if I were to tack onto what my friend is saying, the “secret sauce” that holds all this together is a high-functioning nervous system. That’s because the nervous system is the master controller for all of the body’s other systems.
Better nerve function and communication between nerve cells generally means less pain, easier movement, better digestion (which lets your diet work more effectively), and better sleep (which lets you recover faster between workouts). Also, because this helps muscles move more freely, they’ll naturally get stronger and tone up. That’s why regular chiropractic adjustments are meant to be like the “tune-up” that keeps your health motor running smoothly.
Until next time… Move well!