Getting in shape or becoming stronger or fitter is actually relatively straightforward. The problems arise when we start to over-think the process, and then suddenly it can appear quite daunting. Simply getting started is the hard part for most people.…
Modern technology in general – and the internet in particular – has brought huge benefits to our lives. Aside from numerous labour-saving devices and entertainment gadgets, we now have access to almost unlimited information.
It’s been argued on several occasions that labour-saving devices are partly responsible for the decrease in levels of overall physical activity. Increased use of cars, dishwashers, remote controls, game consoles and even robotic vacuum cleaners have therefore been held partly responsible for the increase in obesity levels.
However I believe that some of the blame lies in the unlimited information that we now have.
Just think about it for a moment. Imagine that you are carrying a few pounds (or maybe a lot) of extra body fat. Alternatively, your body weight might not be a problem but you’d like to get stronger or fitter.
I recently attended a family wedding and, as is customary on these occasions, the Bride looked stunning, the whole day was planned to perfection and a great time was had by all.
When it comes to weddings, there’s no doubt that there’s a huge amount of pressure on the Bride. We might refer to the event as the “Couple’s Big Day”, but in reality it’s all about the Bride. The groom is merely the Best Supporting Actor.
And it’s probably fair to say that the majority of the pre-wedding planning and organisation ends up being done by the Bride. It may be a generalisation – but probably not too far off the mark – to say that most Grooms tend to have the attitude that everything will be grand on the day, so what’s all the panic?
But, unfortunately, things like this don’t just happen by themselves and in order to get the desired result, the groundwork has to be done.
And if we’re interested in achieving health and fitness goals, we can learn a lot from the focus and determination of our blushing brides.
At many times during the year we work with Brides-to-be, either in our Circuit Class Bootcamps, or as Personal Training Clients. And without exception, they are a joy to work with, because they actually follow all the training, nutrition and lifestyle advice we give them!
The difference between Brides-to-be, and those people who achieve less spectacular body composition results is down to the level of motivation. Here are some of the strategies and mechanisms that Brides – consciously or sub-consciously – use in order to make sure they look their absolute best on their Special Day.
“You wanna know how you do it? Here’s how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.” – Malone, (AKA Sean Connery) The Untouchables.
Ok, this week I’m not advocating violence under any circumstances. What I’d like you to do instead, is to consider what you are honestly prepared to do in order to achieve the goals that you say you want to achieve.
A good working definition of insanity (which may – or may not – have been said by Albert Einstein) states that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Based on that, we’ve all probably been a little insane in some area of our lives at one stage or another. In my experience, one of the bigger sources of this form of insanity is the area of health and fitness.
I’ve lost track of the amount of clients (sorry ladies, but it’s mostly female clients), whose only method of weight loss is walking. Although many of them have not seen any significant improvement in weight, clothes size or body fat levels, they continue to walk the same route at the same time and at the same speed, in the vain hope that a huge amount of fat-loss will magically happen.
And it’s not just confined to females or walkers. There are many people, male and female, who are doing gym and class-based training programmes, but who have been sorely disappointed with the results.
If this applies to you, or somebody you know, stay with me while we look at some practical ways to fix the situation.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” Jim Rohn.
Once upon a time, a tourist was driving around the countryside. He soon realised that he was completely lost when he saw grass growing in the middle of the road.
He stopped at a cottage to ask for directions and in the course of the conversation he noticed a huge hole in the roof of the cottage. He asked the owner why he hadn’t fixed the roof, to which the man replied: “when it’s raining, it’s too wet to fix it, and when it’s dry it doesn’t need to be fixed.” True story.
We’ve all fallen victim to this type of thinking at various stages, and in various aspects of our lives. It’s a kind of comfort zone where it appears that it’ll be too traumatic and scary to make positive changes, so we prefer to stay with a situation that is, at best, mediocre and, at worst, may be a cause of bad health or deep unhappiness.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the more common excuses we use to avoid making progress in our health and fitness, and throw in some suggestions about how we can overcome them.
I’ll wait till I’m a bit fitter before I join the gym
This is probably my favourite. In my opinion it’s the equivalent of saying “I’ll wait till I get a bit better before I go to the doctor.” I totally understand that many people may feel intimidated about joining a gym, exercise class, or sports club. They imagine that they’ll be the most out-of-shape person there, and that everybody will be watching and judging them.
We’re now well into 2015 so how are all those New Year Resolutions going for you? If the “New Year, New Me” hasn’t gone according to plan, don’t worry about it, because you’re not alone.
Gyms tend to be packed for the 1st couple of weeks in January before a steady decline in numbers means that the “Regulars” can have their favourite machines and benches all to themselves again.
It’s also around this time that “diets” are abandoned and the old familiar comfort food is welcomed back to the cupboards.
So why are these predictable scenes played out every year? I have my own theories on it and I want to suggest a few ways that can help you get back on track (if you really want to!)
When my wife and I started our business in 2008, we thought long and hard about a name that would actually mean something to us, and would also let potential clients know what we were about.
I had worked with hundreds of clients in other gyms for the previous 6 years, and had noticed that many of them got great results while others didn’t get anything like the level of success that would have been expected.
Although physiological reasons like under-active thyroid or digestive system issues will definitely have a negative effect on fat/weight loss, these items were not an issue for the vast majority of the people who did not reach their goals.
In most cases, their mental/psychological preparation and conditioning did not match their physical effort and so, they were effectively doomed to failure. Body & Mind Fitness seemed like a good name for our business, because we wanted to convey the idea that in order to reach your physical potential or ideal, a certain amount of mental effort was also required.
Mental strength tends to be a little misunderstood and not many people realize that it can be trained and developed in much the same way as physical/muscular strength. The following tips can be applied to your health and fitness plan but will work equally well for all areas of your life.
According to Professor Richard Wiseman in his book “59 Seconds”, people are about 20% less likely to tell “little white lies” – or even bigger, black ones- if they’ve to put their words in writing in the form of an email or letter as opposed to a telephone conversation.
Over the years, I’ve noted something similar with clients when it comes to how they’re doing with their nutrition plans! Typically, when I ask clients at the gym about the quality and quantity of the food, they usually nod their head vigorously while telling me that they’re “being very good” or that their food is “going grand.”
These lines are usually said with a lot more passion and indignation immediately after they’ve had an assessment that shows their weight, body-fat % and tape measurements have gone up!
I’m not suggesting for one moment that clients are being deliberately deceptive. (Ok, some of them are). The simple fact is that it is very hard to remember every single thing that you’ve had to eat or drink over the course of a week, unless you write it down as close as possible to the time you’ve consumed it.
Another issue is that some people mistakenly believe that they’re eating “healthy” food and that they can eat as much of it as they like. Therefore, confusion about appropriate choices and portion size can also lead to poor results.
Last week we spoke about ways that our food, exercise and lifestyle can have a negative effect on our energy and vitality as well as on our waistline.
In my case this resulted in lower energy, less motivation and a lack of interest in life that bordered on symptoms of depression.
Apart from the fact that this didn’t feel great for me personally, it also had a negative effect on my family and business.
It was for these reasons that I decided that I needed to sort myself out and that I’d need some help with it. I enlisted the help of Eoin Lacey, the co-owner of Irish Strength Institute, and we agreed to put a programme in place to get me back to my physical and mental peak.
Over the years I’d prided myself on “talking the talk and walking the walk”. I maintained a regular training programme, played competitive sport and ate a healthy diet consisting of lots of vegetables, meat and fruit with the occasional sweet and alcohol treats. Most importantly I slept well and felt energetic.
However, more recently, these habits were starting to slide as the demands of work and family made it more challenging to maintain the so-called work-life balance.
Something had to give, and this time, it was me. The following action items are similar to what I’d been recommending to clients for years. However knowing what to do and doing it are 2 very different things, but by having a Coach to report to, I was ensuring that I’d a much better chance of reaching my goals.
There are a number of reasons why people decide to change their exercise and eating habits. The most common one is usually the “pain-driven” motivation they get from feeling “out of shape” and finding it difficult or even embarrassing to fit into their favourite clothes.
That motivator is the other side of the coin to the more positive “pleasure-driven” push they get from imagining how good they’ll look and feel in new, smaller clothes at an upcoming occasion like a wedding, christening or party.
These 2 motivators will always be powerful because they’re just slight variations on the truism that “Everybody wants to look good naked!”
Athletic achievement can also be a great motivator. Improved diet and nutrition are a must for someone who wishes to take part in their first 10k run, long-distance charity cycle or who simply wants to improve the performance and enjoyment of their current sport.
However, in my opinion, there’s a much bigger reason that I believe that everyone should eat as healthily as possible and combine it with regular exercise: improved energy levels.
‘Tis the season to be jolly. For the vast majority of people, this tends not to be the case and it turns into the season to be stressed out, put on un-wanted weight and become depressed.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spoken to dozens of people who have been working very hard on their training and nutrition with the intention of being in good shape for Christmas.
The majority of them are very happy with the results of their hard work and yet they seem resigned to the fact that it’s all going to go down the drain before the start of January. They speak as if Cruel Fate is going to take complete control of their decision-making ability, handcuff them to the armchair in front of the tv, and force endless amounts of cake, sweets, chocolate and alcohol down their throat.
I’m not saying for one minute that there is anything wrong with having some down-time from regular training or enjoying some sugar-filled or intoxicating treats. It’s traditional at times of celebration that alcohol and high-calorie food take centre stage and there will always be a certain amount of over-indulgence. As the saying goes, Seldom is Wonderful. However 2 or 3 solid weeks of this can be very hard work.
Today’s article is not aimed at those who are determined to test the limits of their capacity for sugar and booze. Hopefully it will be give some ideas to those of you who want to enjoy Christmas with minimal damage to your waistline.