Making It Last: Fitness in 2020
By Tia Norris, January 2020 Issue.
number one New Year’s Resolution, every year, is some kind of diet or
While people almost always have the best intentions
in eagerly embarking on their wellness journeys, I’ve seen too many fall short
of reaching their often overambitious goals, only to doom themselves to a
perpetual cycle of start and stop on repeat.
The pursuit of “getting healthy” is
multifaceted, involving more than just physical fitness; it also includes
critical mental and emotional components. Here are some of my trainer tips to
set yourself up to be more successful in all three of these domains in pursuing
goals in 2020.
One of the smartest
things you can do in setting fitness goals is to start small. Sure,
people get excited about making changes and want to hit the ground running; but
unfortunately, many people overcommit and make things far too hard on
themselves too quickly. An example of this is going from exercising zero times
per week to five times per week; of course, this is quite an adjustment. Effort
must be scaled appropriately based on your starting point. My advice would be
to start with exercising three times per week at first.
And then, progress slowly. Get used
to three before you upgrade to four; and get used to four before you upgrade to
five. Although this gradual progression may not yield as immediate of results
as a more aggressive program, ultimately it’s the one that will go the distance
and produce more results over time. If you progress too quickly, you increase
your risks for injury, overcommitting, and burnout.
Additionally, if you’re like most people,
you might need help with making a good plan or instead hiring someone to
make it for you. Trainers and coaches are both educated and experienced in what
works, fastest, and most comfortably. Don’t underestimate the value of paying
for expert advice!
should not hate your diet or exercise program. Pick activities and diets
that you actually like and can sustain. Your fitness life is too short to
trudge through something that you despise, multiple times per week, for months
or years. There are an infinite number of options out there – find one that you
like and can tolerate most times. And perhaps more importantly, this goes for
diet, too! Read this very carefully, five times: crash and extremely
restrictive diets, cleanses, magic pills, and cosmetic treatments do.not.last!
Long term results hinge, critically, on your ability to like your diet most of
the time. If it’s extreme, it won’t last and it therefore won’t work!
Here are some more hard truths: walking
does not count for 90% of the population, and more is better when it comes to
exercise. The minimum recommended exercise prescription is 3x
moderate/vigorous sessions per week. More workouts equal more results. Three
times per week is the gold standard; less than three sessions will likely not
yield appreciable results.
While we’re cutting to the chase: you
cannot completely avoid either diet, or
exercise, and only do one of the two. Err on the side of more activity and
less dietary restriction to achieve better physical fitness, aesthetics,
and quality of life. My tried and true equation is: exercise hard, diet
moderate, for best results.
Focus more on
the process, less on the results. I have a saying:
“if you play the numbers game, you will lose, every single time.” On one hand,
you need to have goals and a direction to shoot for; but on the other hand, you
must not live and die by your numbers. This includes: weight on the scale,
pounds on a key lift, time on an endurance effort, and more. Long story short,
you cannot hang your entire self-worth (and the success of your program, which
involves dozens of other factors!) on achieving a number. Focus on doing your best;
let the numbers fall where they may.
Don’t complain, it’s not cool. Frankly, I am not impressed with how hard you think your fitness
program is. Stop complaining on social media about the difficulty of your diet
or exercise. Stop vocalizing your dread for your upcoming workouts or meals. You
chose this; no one is making you do this. Change your attitude, not only out of
consideration for others, but also for your own improved success.
Connect healthy choices with positive
outcomes. More movement and better food choices
make you feel better. Doesn’t everyone want to just feel better? Sure, I love
burgers and fries and pizzas, but I can’t eat that shit mid-day during the week
when I’ve got hours more of hard work to go. Sure, I love sleeping in and
lazing around and having fun; but none of that will bring me accomplishment,
pride, and success. Do the work, to get the results. And even better, if you
can connect the work to the outcomes, you’ve really got it made.
Remember, it’s not just physical choices
that make you successful in fitness; you’ve got to be sharp mentally and
emotionally, as well, to achieve holistic results.
Happy goal setting for the New Year!