Get there, this year!
By Raymond Onyango.
I hope you all had a great start to the year 2013. I know that many of you have made fitness resolutions this year, like every year before it, and I also know that the vast majority of you will fail to keep those resolutions. This is not prophetic, its fact. Exercise attrition rates are notoriously high within the global health and fitness industry. Here in United States of America it is estimated that up to half of all individuals that take up an exercise program at the beginning of the year drop out within the first 6 to 8 weeks of commencing their training.
This is what we are going to address over the course of this article, and it is my hope that when you’re done reading this you will be armed with a few ideas to keep you from faltering along the way. Maybe 2013 will be the year when you finally make it happen, and here is how:
Socializing is the key to long-term exercise success. As a matter of fact, one things I do religiously with all my personal training clients is to introduce them to as many other gym members as possible. Even in my group exercise classes I make a point of learning my students names and referring to each individual by name throughout the course of the class. I do this because I realized early in my career that my most successful clients were invariably the ones who had a strong social support network. I learned that connecting my clients to other gym members in a meaningful way gives them a strong sense of belonging, helps to make them feel more at ease on the gym floor and ultimately leads them to cultivate an more enduring fitness habit. Friendship is a powerful thing, and when you have friends at the gym, who are committed to exercise you will be more inclined to go there often rather than duck into a pub immediately after work. Your gym friends will look out for you when you don’t show up and they will encourage you when you feel like giving up. So this year when you go to gym, leave your Ipod behind and avoid the temptation to plug the world out; instead go out and make the effort to meet new people. Join a group class, pick up a sport or get a personal trainer. Anything that will allow you to expand your social circle and take the monotony out of exercise. Trust me, you will be more successful for it!
Watch your Sugar Intake
Fat has long been the whipping boy of the fitness industry; so much so that a whole industry has been born with regards to fat reduced food. We now have fat free milk, low fat cookies and fat reduced yogurt, just to name a few. Labeling foods ‘fat free’ has been an outrageously successful marketing gimmick, but it has so far been unsuccessful in stemming the tide of rising obesity rates worldwide because most fat free foods are laden with sugar to substitute for the loss of flavor when fat is removed. Here in the United States of America you will find a form of sugar known as high fructose corn syrup in just about every food product on the supermarket shelves form macaroni and cheese to ketchup and bread. The result is that Americans on average consume about 22 spoonfuls of sugar everyday. It’s no wonder that almost half of the entire American population are classified as obese. This over consumption of sugar spikes your body’s production of the hormone insulin, which in turn controls your blood sugar by mopping up the excess sugar and converting it to fat. This means you can eat all the fat free products you like, but inevitably you will still gain weight unless you make an effort to reduce the overall amount of processed foods in your everyday diet.
Drop your goals
Yes you heard me right! Throw out the scale, ditch the tape measure and put away the fitness magazines. The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to make the commitment to move everyday. Fitness goals are great, for motivation, but they can also create a disconnect that leads us to think of exercise as something that is separate from our everyday lives. I know for a fact that 90% of the battle to stay in shape comes down to lifestyle change. We are not talking killer workouts in the gym here; we are talking about creating opportunities for movement in your everyday life. Walking when you can as opposed to driving everywhere, getting active with your kids or spouse by turning off the television and playing a game of touch football or taking the dogs out for a walk. Many countries in the developed world have virtually engineered movement out human life. I still shudder every time I walk into a supermarket here in America, where they even have motorized shopping carts for individuals who are literally too obese to get around a supermarket on their own feet! It’s shocking!
Daily activity is what serves to bridge the gap between the amount of calories you take in and the quantity that you burn. You want to make it your first aim to accumulate at least 30 minutes of physical activity of whatever kind everyday. If you can do that and then throw in 3 supplementary, hour-long workouts every week, you will see the pounds drop off without too much fuss. My overall philosophy in fitness is to strive for consistency and not to worry about numbers. If you dwell on pounds and inches you become shortsighted and invariably you loose your way. But if you strive for consistency, the numbers will always add up in the end. Have a fabulous and successful year 2013.