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by Cody Rzeznik
Get a gym membership… or don’t.
You can run the gamut with gym memberships these days. You have the high-end memberships with premium services like Equinox. Then you have the $10 Planet Fitness membership that offers pizza parties once a month. Whatever your preference, I recommend signing up for a gym membership of some sort. And base it off your budget, location, goals, etc. If you just want a place to do your cardio in the winter and maybe lift a few weights here and there, look at Blink, Planet Fitness, or one of the other cheap options. If you have more freedom with your budget and want a little luxury with your gym membership like eucalyptus towels and racy advertisements, check out Equinox. If you are looking for a middle of the pack option, see about Crunch.
As much as I recommend getting a gym membership of some kind, it is still possible to get fit without one. Our own bodies are one of the best tools we have but it is a lot easier to make excuses not to workout when we are attempting to do an at-home program. Push ups, squats, planks, and many other bodyweight exercises create great workouts. Purchase just a few dumbbells and you can do even more.
While it has its place in a training program, cardio is very inefficient. Strength training, or resistance training, accomplishes many things. It increases functional strength, burns calories, builds muscle, can correct poor posture, improves movement efficiency, and much more. The most optimal training program includes three to four days of strength training with a few cardio sessions thrown into the mix. As well as time spent working on flexibility, mobility, myofascial release, etc. One can lose weight by only doing cardio. One cannot build the body they want without resistance training.
Consistency is King
We can talk all day about what type of exercise one should be doing and how much. But when it comes down to it, the best exercise program is the one that allows you to be the most consistent. Not even the greatest training plan ever written will do anything for you if you are consistently putting in the work. And always remember, doing ANY workout is better than doing no workout at all.
Don’t Just Eat Less
The first thing people want to do when trying to get healthier or lose weight is to eat less. While this may sometimes create quick “results,” it can be incredibly detrimental. It promotes muscle loss, not just fat loss. And it creates an internal environment where it is all but impossible to maintain the rapid weight loss. Especially if you are also starting an exercise regimen, it is important to be properly fueled. Focus instead on increasing the quality of your food. This in itself will cause you to eat less. After you begin eating higher quality food, then you can really crack down on portion sizes if results have stalled. A quality “diet” consists mainly of protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and water. Carbs are not the enemy but they should be eaten in moderation, fruit included. And supplements are just that: supplemental.
It’s Not Just Exercise and Nutrition
They aren’t just optional instructions when we tell people that they really need to get better sleep and manage their stress if they want to see results. Sleep is incredibly important for recovery and stress can wreak havoc on your hormones and entire body if not mitigated. A lot of us are constantly in a stressful state even when it’s not obvious. While meditation and other specific anti-stress activities are great, they aren’t the only way to manage stress. Instead of doing more activities that aim to reduce stress, try to do less activities that are causing the stress in the first place. Be aware throughout the day and perform some belly breathing techniques.
Invest in Professionals
Personal Training can be expensive. But a “good” personal trainer is an investment in yourself, not an expense. If you just can’t afford a personal trainer, though, there are other options. This could be finding classes that you enjoy taking each week. There isn’t much personalization but at least you have someone taking the guess work out of it for you, as well as camaraderie of the rest of the group. Or seek out an online coach who will still hold you accountable and create a personalized program for a lot cheaper. What you don’t want to do is go it alone. Because fitness isn’t your expertise or your job. If I tried to handle my own finances by myself, I would be broke. If I had to be my own “tech guy” and fix problems with my technology, I’d be living back in the stone age. And if we all tried to diagnose our own sickness and health without a doctor’s opinion, we might not be here today.
I hope some of these small tips will help you in your pursuit of your goals and resolutions.
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