It is January 5, 2015 8:30 AM. The first full working week in the New Year 2014 and the gym is brimming with “resolutionist” from all over town. All the treadmills are humming along at a 7-minute pace, all other cardio machines are occupied and the aerobic class is fully booked. Zumba is pumping in the background. All the machinery is humming and clinking at a frenetic pace. Fast forward 30 days later and 50% of these resolutionists will be gone. Many of the treadmills would be unplugged to save energy and what would be left are the typical gym rats shaking their protein shakes at the sidelines giving unsolicited advice to anyone who makes eye contact.
According to a recent article 60% of gym memberships remain unused after the 1st month of purchase and with all this reading and talk about fitness, a majority of people simply quit from their resolutions in less than a month! While many of us are quick to condemn the failure to lack of commitment and discipline, integrating your fitness goals into your regular habits is more often easier said than done. The fact of the matter is that 9 out of 10 resolutionists will quit on their fitness and weight goals by March without getting any results from the effort.
While your goal is to reduce your intake of calories and burn more through exercise, many of us don’t have system to track progress. Worse, after a hard session at the gym, we often over compensate by eating the equivalent number of calories suitable for Sumo wrestler. The average gym session (1 hour) could burn off 500 calories but most of us have the tendency to eat more than 1000 the minute after you leave the gym. The key is to make some tangible investments that keep you “moving” and monitor your progress. Some of the best investments I have made that had me losing 10 pounds and keeping it off during the holidays were the following:
- A Fitness Tracker. You can get a pedometer and calorie counter from the app store for free; this helps you monitor the amount of steps you take. The challenge is take at least 10,000 steps a day as described in this site. Getting a fitness tracker (device) as described in our earlier article could help you track your progress in walking and running, it comes with a calorie counting app and even helps you monitor your sleep patterns. iHealth comes with a full dashboard which works with other devices that monitor your blood pressure and glucose. The suite is very useful for those who are just starting a fitness program especially for those who have hypertension and diabetes. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
- Some Running Shoes. If you’re reading this article in early January, chances are, you can get a pair of “decent” running shoes as described in this article for 50% off. Not only do you lose some weight from running, but you also get a bit of “street-cred” if you decide to run your first short race. Packing a pair of running shoes the next time you travel also helps you keep in shape while you’re out on a business trip. Not to mention that most hotels also have their own health clubs.
- A Bicycle. One of the best investments I’ve made in fitness was a mountain bike. Not only could you commute with it, you also have a chance to see the best of the country by being outdoors, not to mention that a vigorous off-road adventure could burn up to 700 calories per hour. Cycling is also gentler on the joints than running and could be your 1st step in getting into more competitive sports by building your cardiovascular health.
- Friends. Getting a fitness buddy or joining a club motivates you to stick with your program. Being part of a team also ensures you receive motivational as well as technical support for you to take it up a notch. If you’re looking at joining a mountain biking club get in touch with EXO (Executive Off-Road Cycling Association)
- Sleep. Don’t forget to recover! As you push yourself to higher levels of fitness, do remember that you only get stronger as you rest. Make sure you add in an hour of sleep for every workout session. Try to go for both quantity and quality by getting at least 6 hours of sleep at 80% efficiency. You’ll be surprised that a power-nap could get up to as much as 100% efficiency and could boost your performance and alertness for the rest of your day. Making sure you recover could prevent your from burning out before reaching your goal.
As it is with any effective planning, the secret is in “breaking-down” your goals into smaller objectives. Quantify your targets and manage your time more effectively. Try to put in at least 2 hours of cardio vascular exercise per week. While 2 hours might sound like too much, you will find that “breaking-down” your sessions into 30 minute intervals spread across your week could give you some very effective results to start. Combining this with other habits such as walking around the office more, parking a bit further and doing a 7 Minute Workout. Walking to the store might not be as convenient as driving, but it is usually simpler and comes with the benefit of burning off some extra calories.