If you have been to a commercial gym in the past week (Gold’s Gym, Planet Fitness, YMCA) then you probably noticed that it is pretty full. January is by far the busiest month at most gyms and health clubs. We’ve all heard it from someone before, “My New Year’s resolution is to get in shape and lose weight.” The time between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays is when most people are visiting with family, eating until they are about to explode, and drinking more than they normally would. So on January 2nd when you walk into the gym it almost feels like walking through a college frat party. The biggest problem with resolutions is that they end when the calendar year does. So instead of making a resolution this year, I encourage everyone make a lifestyle change that will continue and evolve with you.
The most important part to hitting any fitness goal is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. The problem is that most fad diets have an end date. I’ve witnessed many people complete Whole 30 with astonishing results, but as soon as the 30 days are up they are right back to their old diet. As soon as you “go on a diet” you imply that your diet will eventually end. Instead, just change what you eat. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains (no, carbs are not the devil), and healthy fats are the basis of any great nutrition plan. My general rule of thumb is if something comes shrinkwrapped or prepackaged then it shouldn’t go in your mouth. While preparing all of your own food is more time consuming, it also teaches you how to be creative in the kitchen.
While dialing in your nutrition takes a lot of effort, it is not the only piece of the puzzle. Incorporating some type of exercise into your daily routine will drastically improve your physical and mental well being. Exercise does not need to mean going to a gym and running on a treadmill. Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of exercise, which means there is something out there for anyone. Yoga, kickboxing, spin classes, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and swimming are just a few of the ways you could exercise without ever stepping on a treadmill.
In the beginning, nobody wants to wake up on a Saturday morning to go on a run, or spend their Sunday afternoon preparing their meals for the week. The quicker you can find enjoyment in your routine, the easier it will become in the long run. Try out a few different approaches to exercise to see what you enjoy and what you can’t wait to be done doing. My wife and I love being outdoors, so we gravitated towards cycling and mountain biking. When I get on a bike, I never have the feeling of not wanting to ride. The most important part is holding yourself accountable once you do find what you enjoy so you can continue improving.
Getting in shape and losing weight isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. You need to be strong willed and be able to motivate yourself under the worst circumstances. However, once you start seeing the results of your hard work, you will wonder why you didn’t start earlier.