So we are approaching the end of the first full week of 2013 and by now the majority of you will be well into the swing of your new years resolutions. It is with out coincidence that gyms start to get ludicrously busy at this period in the year, one of the most commonly stated new years resolutions is to “get fit” and to “loose weight”. Your TV will be filled with celebrity fitness DVD and weight watchers advertisements for the next 4-6 week period and your local gym is going to see a huge surge in member activity making the life of your local gym fanatics hell at peak times.
Why is it the case then with every new year people start out with all the best intentions in the world and then inevitably by the end of February everyone has fallen off the wagon and dipped back into the bad habit’s they swore they would kick but 6 weeks ago?
1 – The binary Switch – Behavioural change is an analogue not a digital process.
Probably the single biggest thing new people do wrong when they try to take up a new years resoloution is that they go at it 100% guns blazing and try to change EVERYTHING at once and stick to it. They go from exercising 0 times a week to exercising EVERY DAY, they go from not giving a crap towards their diet on to changing EVERYTHING in their diet and sticking to it ALL OF THE TIME not allowing for cheat days or for any respite. They become neurotic and hugely invested in their new 180 in life style, they become so emotionally invested in the new health kick that when the inevitable break down in behaviours comes and they miss a gym session or they make a bad food choice because they were hungry and then all of a sudden the sky is falling all around them.
Your going to have to accept from the outset that you are a human being and as thus are fallible, this means you will fail some of the time it’s a part of life and something your going to have to accept and plan for. So in the new year you should be looking to make gradual changes, start by going to the gym 2 times a week and make sure you go at least 90% of the time. Don’t commit to a crazy programme just show up and lift some weight’s, do some cardio and just generally get used to the fact that the gym is now part of your weekly routine. Don’t even set days where you have to go to the gym just say “I am going to go to the gym 2 days a week” that’s it 2 days, no pressure, no mad programmes just show up do some exercises have some fun and make it part of the routine.
After 4 weeks of this maybe add a third day, when your going to the gym 3 days a week for 4 weeks you might want to start adhering to a programmes, something nice and easy to follow like 5×5 for your free weights and running x distance every session and trying to beat your time. Your programme might look like this in 2013
Weeks 1-4 – 2x sessions a week, 20 mins of cardio and machine weights
Weeks 5-8 – 3x sessions a week, 30 mins of cardio and a mix of machine and free weights.
Day 1 – 5×5 squat, 5×5 bench, 3×10 lat pulldown – 3 mile run for time
Day 2 – off
Day 3 – 3×5 deadlift, 3×5 shoulder press, pull up progressions – 3 mile run for time
Day 4 – off
Day 5 – 5×5 squat, 5×5 bench, 3×10 lat pulldown – 3 mile run for time
Day 6 + 7 – Off
After 3 or 4 months of this kind of programming you might be hooked on lifting or cardio and might want to start some goal orientated training maybe competing in a sport and training towards that end, but the take home point is that it is a gradual process from starting to go to the gym 2 days a week to becoming a competitive/recreational athlete. It will not happen over night.
Regarding your diet, we will touch on this in more detail later but the same logic applies it is a gradual process you need to account for your break downs and include planned cheat days/meals where you will eat what you want.
Changing general rules will be much more effective then trying to be meticulous from the word go things like a low carbohydrate diet for 6 days of the week with a 1 day cheat meal are much easier to follow and stick to then trying to micro manage your Kcal and Macro/Micro Nutrient profiles from the word go.
2 – Your body fat is controlled through your dietary choices NOT your exercise choices.
The three bodies above are examples of women who lift weights believe it or not, the differences you notice in their “tonne” or their musculature is 90% down to their body fat percentages. When women take on a very low bodyfat percentage they start to take on a more androgynous appearance loosing breast size and the “curves” that most people consider to be feminine this however is at a pretty extreme end of the spectrum that only those who are actively seeking this look at almost all costs or people involved in elite athletics will experience.
If we accept the calories in vs calories out model of weight loss at face value then the following quick maths equation should show why trying to exercise yourself lean is a horrifically inefficient endeavour.
Our Hypothetical person is a 26 year old Female who weighs 74 kg and is 156 cm tall and is moderately active.
This means that to maintain her bodyweight see needs to consume 2280 calories a day to stay the same weight. Now she is going to try and drop to 64 kg bodyweight so she looks better in a bikini for her holiday in July.
1 lb of Fat mass is 3500 calories of energy which means we need 500 kcal of deficit a day to achieve one lb of fat loss a week. And 22 weeks to achieve our goal of 22 lbs of fat loss.
500 kcal in exercise is equal too
- 80 Minutes of basketball
- 65 minutes of cycling at 10 mile per hour
- 50 minutes of competitive field sport
- 30 minutes of running at 8 MPH (running 4 consecutive 7.5 minute miles)
- or so it’s not too intense 90-100 minutes of walking at 3 mph
So assuming we keep our food intake exactly the same we would have to engage in either 7 hours of intense exercise a week (not including warm ups, getting changes etc) which would eat into your free time significantly or 10 to 12 hours a week of pretty monotonous non intense exercise like walking to achieve the same effect. And for illustrative purposes 1000 kcal of food looks like this….
Sure looks good…. and easy to accidental consume. Just like in the previous section you should be looking to set yourself up to succeed by making efficient and realistic choices try a limited carbohydrate diet (
3 – Do things you enjoy
There is a reason stationary cardiovascular come attached to TVs and now touch screen terminals with access to the internet stationary cardio is monotonous for pretty much everyone (bar a few individuals). Taking part in sports or involving yourself in goal orientated tasks like training for a 5 mile fun run / lifting towards powerlifting or weightlifting meets are by far in a way more engaging and as a by product will see you coming back for more and when it comes to exercise consistency pretty much trumps everything else.
You should use the new year as an excuse to try your hand at a whole host of physical activities you might otherwise have never tried, go rock climbing, take part in your local swim club, seek out your local strongman gym. The old adage you don’t know till you have tried it rings true here you could be the next Michael Phelps you just don’t know it yet.
Pretty much everyone has a physical talent for something and when you find something your good at just doing it is reward enough. Even not being elite at something doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the hell out of it I know plenty of lifters who love seeing themselves get better it is one of the most rewarding things in life to start out as a novice and over time gain mastery. As an added bonus to finding a sport or activity you love you will reap all the health and aesthetic benefits that go with it. There are few win win situations in life but finding a sport or activity you genuinely love is one of them.
Hope these suggestions can make 2013 the year you buck the trend.