Getting in shape seems like a daunting task. Those who need the most help getting their fitness game on track are also those that have the furthest to climb. Just like a hobby or a drug addiction, a fit lifestyle can begin with a few small steps and lead to something life changing. We make hundreds of decisions every day. Though many of them are as insignificant as choosing which ridiculous Starbucks drink to order or picking which out-of-your-league girl will reject you at the bar, making a series of conscious choices with one goal in mind can jumpstart your progress.
Keep A Gym Bag In Your Car
Don’t even give yourself the opportunity to stop by your apartment before you hit the gym. There are too many distractions there. When you look at how dirty your room is, how comfortable your bed looks, or how your television is just sitting there unwatched, it is easy to forget the fitness promises that you have been making yourself throughout the day. Along with jumper cables and condoms, you should keep a gym bag in your car, you know, just in case.
Vicarious Personal Trainer
You already spend half of your time at the gym checking people out. You might as well put your wandering eye to good use. If you can’t afford a personal trainer (and let’s face it, many of us can barely afford our gym membership), keep an eye on someone who can. Watch the workouts the trainer is assigning and the habits they are encouraging. This is no substitute for having a personal trainer of your own, but you can worry about that once you are paying your own phone bill.
Go to the Gym At Off Peak Times
Going to the gym right before or after work is convenient, which is why everybody does it. What isn’t convenient is cutting your workout short after waiting an hour for a bench. Pace in important during your workout and if you begin to associate the gym with being pressed shoulder to shoulder while you wait for equipment, then you will be all the more likely to skip your next workout. If possible, hit the gym when the free weights are actually free, and not hogged by legions of high schoolers lifting way more than they should. You should be free to roam the open plains of the gym floor without constantly being assaulted by cargo shorts and flat-brim wearing fuccbois. Give yourself that chance.
Abide by the 10 Percent Rule
At one point or another, we’ve all found ourselves in over our heads. Things have a tendency to develop quickly: casual dating turns into a serious relationship over night, a promotion at work leaves you out of your depth and overwhelmed, an intro. course in the wrong field can feel like a master class. One area of life where you have control over your progress is your workout. Many experts recommend following the “10 Percent Rule.” The idea is that you should never increase your intensity, weight lifted, or time spent exercising by more than ten percent. Conversely, it is important to challenge yourself, and allowing yourself that little incremental push when you’re ready for it will put you on track for significant growth over time.
Take Photos of Yourself
It is hard to see progress. No matter what endeavor you throw yourself at, there is a point where you will feel lost in the woods, unsure how you got there, and unsure how you’ll get back out again. One simple way to see your progress is by taking pictures of yourself once or twice a week. Ideally after a month, you’ll see significant results and after a season or so, you’ll barely recognize that twerp from the first picture.
As a public service announcement, we must encourage you to refrain from sharing the picture online as well. No matter how good you think that picture in question may look, nobody wants to see your gym selfie, even if it is behind the dopest of Instagram filters.
Fix Meals Once or Twice A Week
Cooking for yourself is hard. It is quite humbling to leave behind the culinary skill of your parents and realize just how terrible a chef you really are. Though piloting your own culinary ship can be time-consuming, the best way to ensure that you’re eating the right foods is to prepare them yourself. If time is a an issue, and you don’t have grand ambitions of becoming the neighborhood foodie/dinner party host, preparing a bunch of one simple meal over the weekend can leave you with ample healthy portions for the week. This Sunday, throw on the games, prepare yourself some combination of meat and vegetables, and then pop them in Ziploc bags for safe keeping. You’ll thank yourself when you aren’t eating Taco Bell on Tuesday followed by McDonalds on Wendesday night.
Work Fitness Into Your Day
There is no substitute for a real workout. Convincing yourself that you are getting it in by curling milk jugs or taking the stairs is a fool’s errand. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t supplement your fitness. Push-ups when there’s downtime in the office, yoga when you get out of bed, and sit-ups in front of the television can keep you fitness minded, and give you the burst of energy you need. If you feel this good after 25 suit-and-tie push-ups, imagine how great you’ll feel when you get to your real workout at the end of the day.
Become a Member of A Gym You Pass Everyday
Shame is a healthy motivator. It isn’t okay to employ the tactic on others, but there is nothing wrong with injecting yourself with a heavy dose of self-loathing. One of the best ways to hate yourself for not getting to the gym is joining a gym that you have to pass everyday. If you go right by that LA Fitness on the way to work, walk by by that Gold’s on your way to your favorite coffee shop, or can see that Bally’s from your apartment, it is going to harder and harder to avoid going. Eventually, your shame will win out, and unlike that time when you didn’t ask that girl out because your friend didn’t approve, that will be a good thing.
The “New Exercise” Rule
Your body is great at adapting to things. That’s why you were able to drink Natty Light throughout your college years without dying. Your body will also get used to your workout if you do the same old lifts every day for months on end. It is advised that you add a new workout to your regimen every week, and many trainers recommend that you totally switch up your workout once a month. This will also keep your workout exciting. It is hard enough to get to the gym on a regular basis, but hitting the gym only to plod through the same monotonous routine for the thousandth time is a great way to weaken your fitness resolve.
Snack After Your Workout
Plan a protein-heavy snack after you work out. Nutritionist Nancy Clark says, “It might optimize the healing of the tiny muscle injuries that happen [normally] while people exercise … Also protein is satiating.” So, not only is protein going to help you recover from that intense workout, but it will stop you from diving into junk food as a reward as soon as you get home. Though it feels good to pig out after a long session in the gym, you'll regret it when you don't see the progress you've worked so hard for.