How to Stay On Track With Your Diet and Training

workout-motivation

It can be the hardest thing about fitness: You’ve got your diet plan, you’ve got your training plan, you’ve got your supplements … and you just can’t get motivated to get that first foot out the door.

This is not uncommon for even intermediate-level athletes. Let’s face it, it is simply easier to not do something than to follow through. That’s why we wanted to started this blog — to keep a running list of tips throughout the week to help you stay focused and reach your goals.

Consistency is key in doing this, so finding excuses and reasons not to hit the gym or talking yourself into an extra cheat meal here or there will absolutely hinder your progress. To that end, let us suggest a few ways you can stay disciplined and motivated, so your goals become reality.

  •  Talk it out. One of the most powerful forms of motivation, we’ve found, is finding a community that you can relate to, that will share your goals and push you to accomplish yours. Sometimes, just putting them out in the open gives you something to strive for — after all, when it’s just you that you have to be accountable to, you know whether or not you’ll be able to handle your own judgment. We’d recommend finding a friend, a mentor, even a trainer if necessary, and sharing your thoughts and motivations so you can have a record of why you started this whole process in the first place. Then, if you find yourself tempted to stray off course, you’ll have a “fitness network,” so to speak, that you can be sure isn’t skipping their workouts. It makes it much tougher to skip yours.
  • Write it down. Simple enough, and so few people do it. Keep a journal! Track your weight, your body fat percentage, your strength … track everything. Your own results can absolutely be a source of motivation. When you see that you’re getting stronger, it’s unlikely that you’ll reach a point where you think, “Well, that was OK, but I’m done now.” Success will breed confidence and, and having a visual record of it will keep the momentum going.
  • Be mindful. Always, always remember the “why” behind fitness. Whether it’s to get your blood pressure to a safer level, to lose your belly, to impress your spouse or feel better throughout the work day, keep your eye on the prize. Sure, a donut is appealing, but it can’t compete with the 6-pack you set out to build.
  • Don’t rationalize anything. You need to be stubborn when it comes time to getting your workouts in. “I can push it til tomorrow,” or “I ate clean today so missing this one won’t be the end of the world,” are examples of rationalizing to make yourself feel better about what you’re really ultimately doing — failing in your goal to be consistent. Write down your workout days, and make sure you get them in before your head hits the pillow at night.
  • Keep your goals the same. Two weeks into your mission to cut body fat and get a 6-pack, you can’t decide that you want to bulk instead and expect to see the same kind of results you would if you’d remained consistent to your plan. Most people do this as a way to get around clean eating. This is how once-a-week cheat meals turn into cheat days, or why somebody would stop packing healthy lunches knowing they can get something fast and easy on the go. Remember from the tip mentioned above: Write it down, and when you do, follow it to the letter.
  • Think of the future. There is a phrase a gym chain uses for its motto that we really like: “Nobody ever says, ‘I wish I hadn’t worked out today.” Think of this when you are on the fence about getting your workout in! Try to think of how you felt the last time you skipped the gym — it probably didn’t leave you overflowing with pride, right? That won’t change. It never feels good to display a lack of accountability, even to yourself. Instead, imagine how good you’ll feel when the workout is done and you have the knowledge that you set a goal for that day and accomplished it.
  • Set smaller goals first. Know that the end goal will happen, but it is way more motivating to continue when you accomplish each small goal as it comes. – (from Nutrishop CDA Facebook fan Bret Spencer – thanks Bret!)

The Body Transformation Challenge Winners Are In!

We have some great results from the NUTRISHOP Body Transformation Challenge, and we want to share the winners with you all this week!

Every category winner won $75, with the exception of the overall winner, who wins FREE PROTEIN from us for a year!

First, an honorable mention: Jessica Rayner, who had a total fat loss-muscle gain swing of 6.26 pounds!

unnamed (1)A new mom in July, Jessica took second in her class after connecting with NUTRISHOP’s Josh. The two had known each other for a long time and Jessica heard about the Body Transformation Challenge, she knew it would be a good thing to do to drop the baby weight and get motivated.

“The guys that work at NUTRISHOP are great — I used to be really intimidated in that kind of environment, because a lot of the people that you see there are really fit already,” Jessica said. “But Matt and Josh helped me out a lot. They’re really supportive, and that’s important to me because I have a crazy schedule with a baby, I work graveyard, I don’t have a set time that I sleep. They helped me do the best I could given the situation.”

When Jessica had her son, she was weighing in at 176 pounds, and after she returned to work, she got down to 147. She set a goal before the Transformation Challenge to get down to 125, and while she didn’t quite make it to that number, she dropped the excess fat around her stomach with a clean meal plan that Josh wrote for her, plus supplementing with FORZA PRO protein powder.

“I’m really happy that I was able to stick to it,” she said. “It wasn’t too hard for me to eat the food he wanted me to — the challenge was more in eating every three hours because of my schedule. I’m a huge fan of chocolate and sugar, and I think the meal plan he gave me seemed to curb those cravings.”

Jessica is looking forward to the spring’s Transformation Challenge, when she plans to incorporate more physical training into her schedule while maintaining her new diet. With a hectic schedule and sporadic sleeping habits due to her job and new child, Jessica still is finding that her cleaner eating habits are giving her more energy. She feels more fit and healthy,

“I just wanted to be fit. I used to be into sports and as I got older I went down the wrong road. It’s too easy for me to gain weight,” Jessica said. “I just wanted to be healthier for my son and my own health.”

Our overall winner and winner of the Male 30-49 Category: Keith Babor!unnamed

Keith lost 25.93 pounds of fat and 11.07 pounds of muscle for a total transformation of 14.88 pounds! With two months of training and dieting throughout the PEAK Biggest Loser Challenge and the Body Transformation Challenge — a perfect storm of motivation — Keith and his wife Tracie (see her story below) knew they had to work together, and fast, to get their lives back on track.

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Keith had held pretty firm between the 205- and 220-pound range for years as he worked construction, and also had aches and pains related to his line of work. His right shoulder partially separates from doing drywall and construction for so long. His left shoulder was constantly aching. He had a right knee reconstruction, a meniscus repair and an ACL replacement at 40. Keith, once an AAU basketball coach, all but quit playing basketball or racquetball, or even running or jumping, because it hurt too much. The biggest thing, though, was the real-life application of all that pain — “It used to just kill me to sit on the floor and read my kids books,” Keith said.

He set an ambitious weight goal from the outset: 175 pounds. A nutritionist he had been seeing told him to be realistic. Instead of changing his goals, Keith worked hard — he got his diet set up at NUTRISHOP with the help of Josh and Toby, made sure to incorporate protein, BCAAs and 1-XPM into his supplement plans and started training to build muscle, and then stuck to his regimen.

He ended up weighing in at 170 after the challenge.

“We really held ourselves accountable and did it together, and everyone at NUTRISHOP has just been awesome to help us do it,” Keith said. “They’re just full of information and that really helped us meet and exceed our goals. When you do something like this, people tell you that you can’t do it, but they tell you not only that you can, but how you can.”

For Keith, it was never about the number on the scale — he just wanted to feel healthy and strong. And perhaps best of all, the real life stuff is back in play for him and Tracie — Keith can read to his kids or play with them without pain. He’s no longer afraid of being 50 and unable to throw around a ball with his children.

“I’m getting stronger every day, and at 47 I’m healthier than I was 15 years ago, and that to me is amazing,” he said. “I feel better than I have in years. That’s attributed to making a lifestyle change.”

Female Over 50 Category: Laurie Littman

unnamed (4)unnamed (3)Laurie lost 3.93 pouns of fat and gainpounds of muscle for a 4.86-pound swing. Also a competitor in the PEAK challenge, Laurie did not come into this competition as a novice. In fact, she was a NUTRISHOP Transformation Challenge contestant in the past, and had great success then, too. Motivated by her past results and the knowledge that her hard work would pay off, Laurie signed up again.

“I kind of already knew what I was doing, and I knew the results would come,” Laurie said, noting that she stuck with the same supplement usage of BCAA SPORT, N’FUZE, NATURE’S FUEL and PRO 7. “I’ve kind of kept up with it, worked out the same, and pushed a little bit more with the weights this time.”

Laurie was still able to achieve success without hitting a weight-loss plateau, thanks to a revamped diet and new focus on ensuring she was getting enough protein. She had initially gotten a meal plan created at NUTRISHOP when she first competed in the challenge and applied the same principles this time around.

“As far as my diet I tried to eat more protein – I had gotten kind of lax on that, so I watched it a little bit more,” she said. “When you’re in a contest you don’t want to let things go like you might have when you’re not in a contest, so I worked on it.”

One major change Laurie also made was to implement five days a week of heavy weight lifting with her friend and workout partner Sarah. She had been training with weights before, but never with the intensity or frequency with which she’s training now.

“It’s fun and going with a partner helps a lot,” Laurie said. “It’s easy for me to get to the gym every morning.”

Her success this time around, she said, all started when she first gained the knowledge she’s still using. She knows the diet is the most important thing — “probably 80 percent of the important work I’ve done is eating right” — and in this case, knowledge definitely is power.

“I had a better grasp of what I was doing,” she said, “with the help of everyone there at NUTRISHOP.”

Female 30-49 Category: Tracie Babor

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Tracie Babor lost more than 16 pounds of fat during the NUTRISHOP Transformation Challenge.

With eight kids, including two young ones, Tracie and her husband Keith had struggled over the course of the last year to stay in shape, each putting on about 10-15 pounds and feeling too tired for exercise. Along came two huge motivating factors, though: The PEAK Biggest Loser contest, and of course, the NUTRISHOP Body Transformation contest, and the couple decided to do both together.

A couple of years ago, Tracie had started to do the Biggest Loser contest, but soon became pregnant and it stalled out her goals. Instead of giving up on them altogether, though, she and Keith came back to challenge themselves and are now seeing the rewards.

“We have lots of years left that we need to live and be healthy,” said Tracie, who lost 16.94 pounds of fat and 5.06 pounds of muscle for a 11.88-pound swing. “I’m feeling fantastic. We used to be super active — we hike, we bike, we fish, and we take the kids with us and spend the day running around, but this last summer we got away from that. The first weekend of the challenge, we found a hiking trail that was about 10 miles. The kids couldn’t do it obviously, and once we went up it, I didn’t know we’d make it out again.

“We’re looking forward to tackling that trail in the spring.”

Like many people looking for motivation do, Tracie experienced a bit of nervousness in her first trip into NUTRISHOP, not knowing what to expect and surrounded by nutrition experts. She left with the knowledge necessary to get her and her husband’s diets right, and also was able to keep an eye on her weight loss as she stocked up on protein, BCAAs and, more recently, 1-XPM. The goals in her sights have now changed from losing weight to challenging herself more: She wants to start training for a mini-triathlon, mixing in even more weight lifting, and putting on more muscle.

“I feel really good, I’m loving the stuff I’m doing and the lifestyle that we’re able to have again,” Tracie said. “I’m excited to see what the next couple months bring for me. We’re sticking with it.”

Male Under 30 Category: Bryce Degelman

PicMonkey CollageBryce, 27, was able to turn in a 5.34-pound swing as he lost 1.67 pounds of fat and put on 3.67 pounds of muscle during the challenge, all part of a year-long transformation for him. Nine years ago, he was a hockey player in high school, but injuries and a desk job put his health and fitness in jeopardy until he decided to change it in March.

“I decided I wanted to get back into shape and get healthy again,” he said, “and up to the point of that competition I’d come down about 25 pounds from my original weight. I figured I was already in the mix of the working out, so it kind of fit together — too bad it wasn’t a few months earlier!”

With the support from his wife Kira, who started encouraging the couple to work out back in March, Bryce started hitting the gym as soon as it opens, 5-6 times a week, mixing up his workouts with dedicated splits like upper-body pull and push days, leg days and even mixing in spin classes or other forms of cardio.

Adopting a supplement regiment of HEMOVEX, FORZA ONE BCAAs and PRO7 protein powder, Bryce is still burning off the fat he wants to and is excited to start getting even more serious about his fitness.

“I feel great now. I got to the point where I blew my knee up and had to have surgery on it, four days before our first kid was born, and during my recovery I was physically in a really low point, and now I feel way stronger,” Bryce said. “I feel like I’m almost back to what my peak was before.”

Female Under 30 Category: Alana Harvey

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Female Under 30 winner Alana Harvey

Alana lost 3.12 pounds of fat and gained .52 pounds of muscle for a 3.64-pound swing! At 20 years old, she said she was surprised with her results, given that she weighed in at only 121 pounds.

Already an avid weight lifter with her husband Jeramy, Alana was encouraged to join the competition after talking with NUTRISHOP’s Matt one day. The first fix was getting her diet right, but with Jeramy out of the state for work for seven weeks, Alana had to take things into her own hands to prepare the food that she normally relied on her husband to make for them both.

“I started eating healthier right away, changed my diet pretty much completely and upped my workout days to six instead of four,” Alana said. “I was cooking for myself, preparing everything, and that was the hardest thing. I had to learn to eat small portions every hour — I was full but also hungry all the time!”

Working in the 15-rep range with the heaviest weights she could handle, Alana was focused on building muscle and strength over the 60-day transformation period. The biggest challenge she faced was Thanksgiving, of course, but she had a strategy.

“There was a fruit tray and vegetable dish, so I got full on that before the bad stuff,” she said. “Mashed potatoes are my absolute favorite, so I had a little bit of those, but otherwise that pretty much was it. It’s easier to not crave the sweets and junk food if you never eat them in the first place.”

Alana is looking forward to seeing Jeramy soon, because he’s refused to let her send any pictures of her transformation! And in the meantime, it’s easy for her to stay motivated. She works at the hospital, where she sees plenty of poor health, and refuses to let herself succumb to it at this point in her life. Fitness has become her feel-good drug.

As for the $75 she won at NUTRISHOP, she knows it’ll go toward one of the favorites she used to get in shape for the contest: N’FUZE, FEMFIRE, FORZA PRO or AUGMENT!

Way to go, Alana! Congrats!

 

Sara Dominated Her Half Marathon With NUTRISHOP’s Help

When Sara McElhiney was younger, she says, she was the “big girl.” Fed up with the teasing, she picked up sports and begin to clean up her eating habits, and after school she began to get into distance running — which leads us to Sara today, running half marathons competitively.
“I changed everything in my life,” says Sara, now 25. “Running distance became a new hobby, especially after I was told I’d never be able to run 13 miles. The drive to prove everyone wrong, along with proving to myself I could do it, was enough to keep me pushing forward to become stronger and better.”
unnamedWe think it’s safe to say she’s arrived: Sara finished first in her age group (the competitive 25-29 class) in the recent Negative Split half marathon in Spokane, Wash.! Not only did she best her peers, but she bested herself, too. Her goal was to beat her last time of 1:56 by 2 minutes; she clocked in at 1:51.
“I was stoked to shave off more time than I expected,” Sara says.
Sara accomplished her goals with a sound diet and training plan, lifting four days a week, running four days a week and cross-training twice a week, while simply making sure she has six high-protein meals a day and that she doesn’t eat any foods with corn syrup. She also supplements with NUTRISHOP products like FORZA PRO, HYPERCOR and BCAA SPORT.
On top of the goods she gets from NUTRISHOP, she’s also been able to turn to us for some advice when she’s needed it.
“They are an awesome crew,” Sara says. “They always answer my questions and help me find whatever I need. Due to the crew and care they put towards their customers, I don’t go anywhere else for supplements anymore.”
Congratulations again, Sara!

Check The Frequency: The Three-Day Split

workout, three-day split, exercise, motivation, plateau

By Travis/NUTRISHOP CONTRIBUTOR

I’ve been through many kinds of workout programs — German volume training, low-rep/heavy weight, powerlifting-inspired training, football-type training, suspension, plyometrics, isometrics — and the one constant through just about all of them has been this: Intensity matters. When things start to stagnate, what I always find is that changing an exercise or a set/rep scheme scarcely has the same effect as changing the intensity of the training I’m doing.

Sometimes, a shift in intensity can come from lowering rest periods, or throwing more weight on the bar. For me, I’ve been through all that and it’s hard to consistently reproduce the feeling of intensity you get from a new training experience. Given that I’m hardly what any true gym rat would call a real expert — I’ve never done a bodybuilding show or a powerlifting contest, for example — the odds are good that if I’ve gone through this, so have you. While I’m certainly not the “lowest common denominator,” I believe many of my experiences are ones you’ve shared, whether you know it or not.

To break the monotony and boost the intensity, I’m choosing to switch away from a standard “daily” schedule — yes, bros, this sometimes will mean that Chest Day will not always fall on a Monday, and Arms Day won’t be on Friday — and go to a three-day split that puts an emphasis on not only doing more frequent work, but having to be smart about the work I’m doing so that I can maximize each workout for its full benefit.

There are a couple benefits to this. For one, I like shifting up my days so that not every Tuesday is a leg day, or every Wednesday and Friday is core. I simply believe it’s more fun and more exciting to have a new goal and a new outlook each time you hit the gym, to salvage some form of relative spontaneity. Structure is good — in fitness, in fact, structure is king — but a little bit of rebellion within the confines of that structure is, I believe, important for the mental side of hitting the gym. Because once the work is done, fitness should be fun.

The second benefit that I’m expecting from a three-on, one-off split is, of course, gains. Many studies are starting to show that frequent exercise of similar muscle groups (i.e., hitting legs multiple times a week) is more beneficial than a once-a-week plan with six recovery days. I like the challenge there. It makes me ask myself: “Am I really too sore to hit squats again? Or am I using recovery as an excuse?” 3-4 days of rest sure seems adequate, when you get down to it, and I like the prospect of further challenging myself in that regard.

Thirdly, as I mentioned before, it forces the trainee into smarter lifting. For example, say I hit my quads hard on my first legs day in my three-day split, doing squats, split squats and maybe some cleans. I know I have another legs day coming up in four days, so I can work in just enough hamstring work to get them activated, then when my next leg day comes up, I know I can go full-bore on deadlifts and other hamstring work while working through the slight soreness to activate the quads. It’s a more complete, less compartmentalized approach to exercise, I think. The body doesn’t work one part at a time, but sometimes we can train that way (isn’t that right, Curls Day guy?). If we’re going to do that, to me, it makes more sense to maximize the time spent doing it.

Without further ado, I’ll show the approach for this plan, and you’ll see how pliable it is to your needs. The big change, again, is the frequency of your exercise — at the least, we’ll have four workouts a week; at most, we’ll have six. Is this brand-new stuff? No. The three-day split is fairly common, in fact, and I have even done it in the past. But I do find that when I’m getting bored or stuck at the gym, coming back to it always recharges my efforts.

The plan is below. Let the set/rep schemes dictate your weight — remember, your last two reps of each set should be a challenge.

Day 1: Chest/Back

Bench Press: 5×5

Pull-Ups: 5 to failure

Incline DB Press: 4×12

Seated Cable Rows: 4×8

Cable Crossovers: 3×8

Reverse-Grip Lat Pulldowns: 3×10

Day 2: Legs/Core

Day 2: Legs/Core

Squats: 5×5

Power Cleans (bar starts and ends on the floor): 5×5

3 Supersets: 8 Kettlebell Swings/12 total Suspended Kettlebell Split Squats.*

*This one can sound confusing. If you have access to a suspension system like a TRX or hanging straps at your gym, set them up so that the foothold is about knee-high, no higher. If you don’t, just set up a bench behind you. Either way, you will have a trail foot in the straps or on the bench, and your starting position will be the trail-foot side knee on the ground, the other leg out in front, in a split squat. Holding a kettlebell straight ahead over your shoulder (use the arm that’s on the opposite side of the leg that is forward), rise to a standing position, then lower yourself back down to the full squat, but not until the back knee is on the ground — you want to stay under tension the whole time. After six, switch both the trail foot and the hand holding the weight.

Smith Machine Calf Raises: 4×20

Hanging Leg Raises: 3×10

Planks: 4 sets of :30

Day 3: Shoulders/Arms

Military Barbell Press: 4×10

Arnold DB Presses: 3×10

Lateral DB Raises: 3×15

Internal/External Rotations: 3×10 each, very light

Preacher Curls: 3×12

Triceps Cable Pushdown: 4×12

Incline DB Curls: 3×8 (heavy)

Close-Grip Bench Press: 5×5 (heavy)

3 Supersets: Cable Curls (21s)/Skull Crushers x 15

Day 4: Rest

 

MOTIVATION MONDAY: Megan Burgess

Megan Burgess

A five-year Navy veteran, Megan was having a significant problem about a year ago: She was passing out while eating. After a glucose tolerance test that revealed she had diabetes, she still had no explanation for her symptom, plus she was developing others — IBS, acid reflux and skin changes — at her knee and ankle joints, the skin was turning black. Whatever was happening was extremely pervasive, and a disabled veteran like Megan could ill afford to keep running up hospital bills.

Ultimately, Megan was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, a disease with many of the same antibodies as celiac disease.

“I did the elimination diet, and a month and a half ago at an eye appointment at the Veterans Affairs office, I was hungry and wanted to eat something before I left,” she said. “At the hospital, they had tuna at the cafeteria, but only three bites in I found it had noodles. Not 45 minutes later, my eyes were rolling in my head and I felt myself almost passing out again. Just sheer will got me home, and once I was, I was on the ground for three hours.”

A fast diet correction was in order, and Megan came in to NUTRISHOP looking for help. She got a meal plan, some NATURE’S FUEL and FORZA ONE protein, and then started going to the gym every other day, beginning in June.

Before fall hit, she ended up losing 50 pounds by removing any and all grain sources, all MSG and all processed foods. Megan eats plenty of meat and 5-6 small meals a day — on dessert plates, even — and all the negative symptoms she had have all but reversed themselves.

The diabetes, skin changes, acid reflux and IBS — gone. The migraines Megan used to get, too, have been reduced by, she estimates, 80 percent or so.

“It feels great that everything is back to normal,” she said. “The help I got at NUTRISHOP has been absolutely essential. They’ve been very encouraging to me, with all my personal trials, and I go in to hang out with them half the time. Every time I discover something new, and they help me out with facts and planning. I can describe a symptom or issue, they can tell me what’s useful. It’s essential for me.”

Stories like Megan’s are the inspirational ones that make this line of work amazing, and we at NUTRISHOP are more than happy to help.

“I had a really complicated situation and they helped me feel a lot less overwhelmed,” Megan says. “They really helped me figure out what I could afford, just do a little at a time and I managed it.”

The Five Ws of Fitness

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.

WHO

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.

WHAT

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.

WHEN

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.

WHERE

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.

WHY

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.