A FITNESS AND NUTRITION TRANSFORMATION BLUEPRINT
By Peter Jackson
It’s a new year and you have made the commitment to get in shape. If you are a do-it-yourselfer and plan to get fit and healthy on your own, here are some tips to help you get started:
MAKE THE COMMITMENT: Get a notebook and write down on the first page all the reasons you have to lose weight, get fit and live a healthier life. Imagine how you will look and feel when you achieve your goals. Write down a big reward you will give yourself at the finish line. Now make a contract with yourself that at least for the next 12 weeks, the improvement of your health and quality of life will be your number one priority.
CREATE A GAMEPLAN: Be specific. Where, when and at what times are you making the commitment to exercise? (Choose a commercial gym over a home gym to give you access to more equipment and motivation by being around others with similar goals). At a minimum, you should plan 45 minutes of exercise three times a week. On two other days, allocate the same amount of time or more for cardio activity such as speed walking, running, biking, etc. Each gym workout will comprise 15 to 20 minutes of high intensity cardio to elevate the heart rate followed by 25-30 minutes of strength training. Include a day or two to rest and recover.
PLAN YOUR WORK, WORK YOUR PLAN: Do a little homework. Research new strength training routines online or in reputable fitness magazines and watch YouTube videos. It’s easy and fun to improve your knowledge and important to vary workouts. Know in advance of each session exactly which exercises must be done. It’s essential to have a plan – and follow it. In your notebook or phone app, plan and date each workout and note the number of reps and weight you executed.
DO THE WORK: It’s no exaggeration to say that upwards of 50% of people at your typical commercial gym are fooling themselves if they believe they will see meaningful results from what they call a workout. Subtract the time they spend chatting with others, hanging at the water cooler, resting between sets, and/or eyeing some hot body, and their actual exercise time amounts to very little. You must give this 110%. Squeeze out one or two more reps each time, push a little harder, lift a little heavier, and your determination will power success. Failure is a good thing – in this case, being unable to complete safely one more repetition of the exercise. Efficient workouts lasting 30-45 minutes are better than 90 minutes spent haphazardly wandering from one machine to the next.
WHAT ARE YOU EATING? You know this one. A healthy body starts in the kitchen. Ditch the junk food, say no to fast food and put on your grocery list the essentials to a healthy diet: lean red meat, turkey, chicken and fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes. Cut most or all carbs from your evening meal. Make the time to eat breakfast, don’t skip meals, and enjoy healthy snacks between meals. Drink more water, cut way back on alcohol or, better still, abandon hard liquor and all sodas and sugary fruit drinks for the duration of your 12-week plan. Supplement with a quality multivitamin and whey protein powder. It’s a personal choice, but consider a pre-workout supplement as well.
IT’S ALL ABOUT VOLUME: Volume can be measured by the total number of reps and sets completed during each workout – and is a measurement of how hard you’re working and forecasts how rapidly results will come. For example, a set of 5-6 different exercises would be considered low volume and 8 or more sets would be considered high volume. Repetitions are referred to as “Load”, so you have “High Volume, Low Load” (example, 10 sets, 4-8 reps each) as well as “Low Volume, High Load” (5-6 sets, 12-15 reps). There are advantages to both training techniques, but start your program with Low Volume, High Load.
GET YOUR GROOVE BACK: As your body is conditioned and strengthened, it’s time to work on what’s going on inside your mind. Attitude is everything when it comes to accomplishing meaningful goals in life. Make an attitude check. It’s said, “The way things look won’t change until we change the way we look at things.” Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, relax, meditate or try yoga, rid yourself of the negative people and influences around you and strive to be happy. Revel in accomplishing your fitness goal in 12 weeks – then choose another one. Fitness is a lifestyle.