We've all done it - read the magazine headlines in the grocery store checkout isle: "Flat stomach in two weeks," "Seven tricks for bigger arms," "Losing weight in ten easy steps," "How I Got My High School Body Back" etc....
The funny thing is, these headlines often times succeed in drawing us in. They are like sales pitches, trying to offer the best deal for the least amount of commitment on our end. No one likes commitment that they don't need, and if our dream body or health and longevity can be achieved without it, well - even better. However those things DO and SHOULD require commitment. The magazines lied. They would not have sold any if they told the truth. The good news is that commitment to an exercise or diet routine doesn't have to be difficult, stressful, boring, or even time-consuming. You just have to look at it a different way.
Some important questions to ask yourself are:
What do I want?
Whether it takes five days or five years to attain, would it change your answer? If so, consider this: The time will pass either way. No matter how you spend that time, five days will soon pass and eventually so will five years. So take time out of the equation and make it simple. What do you want?
Why do I want it?
Try to answer this question honestly. What is the reason at the root of it all? Simply answering "because I want to be skinny" or "because I want to look good" won't suffice as a good enough motivator to most people. Ask yourself on the internal level - how will this make me feel? Maybe it will make you happy, or give you more confidence. Impressing your peers, or looking good for summer or a wedding are reasons themselves, but probably won't pass the test of time.
Once you have an answer, half of the work is done. You now have your goal and motivation. Now for the fun part: taking that first step, that first jog, that first swim, that first squat, tracking your first calorie.
Finding the perfect fit
Workout plans with a time restraint don't work - primarily because they are predicated on the idea that they should come to an end. Trust me when I say, no successful work out plan or diet should have an end. If an article states that you can lose five pounds in five days, it probably doesn't tell you how to keep the five pounds off. Likewise, if an article gives you a "six-pack" work out, what do you do after you've mastered that workout and stop seeing results? When it comes to diets and exercise routines, there is no one-size-fits-all plan. However, successful workout routines should share at least three common factors. They should be sustainable, consistent and progressive.
A routine should be sustainable. Meaning, you should be able to keep it up for a long time without getting burnt out. If you start an exercise routine on Monday, you should still be able to walk on Thursday. A little soreness is ok, but remember, you're going to be doing this for a while, and it's important not to get worn out too soon.
Not only should the routine be physically sustainable, but you should also be able to sustain during a busy schedule. It's easy to tell yourself now that you'll wake up every day at 5am to work out, but not realistic. Create a routine that you can easily fit into your weekly schedule.
A routine should be consistent. This ties into the routine being sustainable. Again, choose a workout that you will be able to complete regularly without getting burnt out on. Commit to a regular schedule that is easy to follow. Set aside at least three days a week that you will designate to completing a workout on. Whether you choose Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or any other combination of days, try to keep each week consistent. If you choose to set aside time for the workout as you go along, you might be tempted to miss a day. Keep a routine you can count on and be consistent with. Next, stick with it and log in those hours. Good things will come.
A routine should allow for progression. This is what is wrong with most magazine workout routines. Eventually your body will get used to them. The concept of progression is pretty simple. Take for example, if you've jogged one mile, three days a week, for the past month, maybe it's time to tack on another quarter-mile or increase the pace. Good workout routines will challenge you to be a little better every day. Always set a small goals for yourself to accomplish. Also, remember to keep track of your progress!
Make sure your workout plan has these three elements to them and chances are it will yield great results.
Don't over think it
In the modern world of excess information, there are tons of workout routines and diets claiming to be the best - with their own research to prove it. Don't be overwhelmed by the fitness gurus or fads. Choose or create a workout routine that fits your goals and lifestyle and stick with it!
If you commit to a workout, if you commit to a change, you will see results. They won't happen overnight, maybe not even after several nights, but you're not here for immediate gratification, you're in for the long haul. You don't have to be a checkout isle magazine scanner anymore. Love the process, and take comfort knowing that you're embarking on a journey that with commitment on your end, will take you where you want to go.