Keeping your priorities straight when it comes to anything in life is a great way to maximize your experiences. The same holds true for your fitness. Identify what’s important when it comes to the five Ws — who, what, when, where and why — in almost anything you care about, and you’ll be able to achieve your best results.
We’re looking at each of those five Ws this week, one a day, to help you figure out the best way to address your fitness. Nobody’s the exact same, so we won’t pretend like one answer will work for everyone. But we can provide a way of looking at diet and exercise that you can shape to your life.
As in, “Who are you doing this for?” The answer seems like it should always be “me!” But that’s not always the case. For some, it’s about impressing someone specific (or many someones, in general). Maybe it’s about being able to stay healthy enough to play with one’s children as they grow up. For others, it’s about liking what they see in the mirror. But the bottom line is that when you can attach a goal or motivation to a sentient being — whether it’s yourself or someone else — you make it real and tangible.
Hold yourself accountable to your fitness plans by always remembering WHO you’re doing this for. Getting a workout partner or even a personal trainer is a great idea, so that there is another human being whose time and resources depend on you getting out the front door and to the gym. When you exercise with a friend or diet with a spouse, you can watch each other’s results as you progress. And, in our experience, success breeds more success.
Simply put: What exactly are you going to do to achieve your goals? Getting motivated is the first step, it’s true, but without a plan in place your fitness objectives will never come true. Whether it’s piecing together a four-week workout, rep-by-rep, or setting yourself up to succeed with a diet plan you can stick to, you need to be able to figure out what steps will get you to your goals and what you’re going to do to follow them.
Take some time to sit down and outline your plan of attack. Draft a workout plan based on expert advice — form tips, workout ideas, challenging exercises you’ve never done — and your goals. If your main goal is to gain strength, a volume-based workout won’t help you much; if you’re trying to primarily lose body fat, you really ought to be engaging in calorie-burning training that includes aerobic exercise as well as weights. Perhaps the hardest part, and the part that reaps the most benefits, is constructing a diet. To that end, we’ve got you covered — as always, NUTRISHOP customers get free diet plans from the shop, tailored to their own personal goals.
One of the most important things you can do to create a plan you can stick to is to isolate times you can dedicate to your fitness. The dieting pretty much has to be an around-the-clock endeavor, and truly where you’ll make the most noticeable strides. Plan your meals to the clock — every three hours, eat something and make sure it has at least some protein. Time post-workout recovery shakes and pre-bedtime mini-meals. Put in the scheduling work in the beginning so you can enjoy the benefits in the end.
It’s just as important to keep to the calendar and the clock when it comes to your training. Don’t skip scheduled gym days — that seems obvious — but what’s more important is scheduling them in the first place. Have a plan, know WHEN you are going, and make sure you do. It honestly can only take 45 minutes to an hour a day of intense training to see results, fast — if the only time you can squeeze that frame in is on your lunch break, work out on your lunch break. If you can only do it at 6 a.m., well, there’s your workout time, early bird. The point is: There are 24 hours in the day, and you only need 4 percent of that time to get in shape. Make it happen — write down the time, set an alarm, and go.
There are times you’ll feel like getting in a workout at home, or in a hotel room, or any other place that’s not the gym. In an emergency, this is mostly OK. But truly, for the best results, you need to find a good gym or weight room that fits your goals and dedicate yourself to showing up every day.
Why? There’s a mental correlation between walking into a gym and, well, not doing it. Work out in your living room, and your brain will have trouble adjusting to having to work so hard in a place it’s accustomed to watching TV or reading the news. Just like you should avoid the bedroom at all costs during the day so your mind can associate your bed with sleep, you should try to keep your physical exercise to exercise-specific places — sporting fields or courts, trails, the gym — and away from places you use for rest or down time.
As far as the gym to choose, keep your goals in mind. Are you into aerobic exercise? You should probably look for an abundance of lap pools, treadmills and elliptical machines. Do you need to build muscle? Almost any place with an available power rack will do. The key is to find a place you feel comfortable enough to do your training, but just on-edge enough so that you can stay focused. The gym CAN be a social place, but you’re not there to socialize.
This is the question that will ultimately be your biggest motivator, and your biggest instructor. “Why am I doing this?” can be the difference between success and failure, whether it’s getting the last three reps of a set, getting yourself out the door on a day you don’t feel like it or choosing a homemade omelette over cold pizza for breakfast.
Being like a 3-year-old and continually asking “Why?” is actually a great way to go about achieving a higher level of fitness — in this particular endeavor, knowledge is power, and the more answers you have, the more ammo you have. Question why you want to keep your head neutral on all lifts, or why you don’t want to roll your shoulders when you do shrugs. Question why 15 minutes of high-intensity cardio is better than 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio. Then, find the answers to those questions. Learning how your body works and why certain techniques are better than others is an important part of your growth.
At the end of the day, the only person you truly answer to when it comes to your fitness is yourself, so you have the answer the to the question “Why?” Make sure it’s something you can adhere to.