Today I want to talk a little about how I have mentally approached my diet and exercise. It’s funny thinking back on various times in my life where I had “the workout bug”. Typically they were short 3 – 4 month stints of working out really hard, followed by years of radio silence. Hopefully these tips help keep you on your path without falling off.
Set a goal
You should have a pretty clear goal in mind before you start working out. For me, it’s to look like a super hero and walk happily around the beach with my shirt off. For others it’s “lose 5 lbs” or “fit in my favorite jeans”. Interestingly, I’ve found that having a more visual goal has helped keep me motivated. It keeps my focus on the mirror, not the scale. In the past I would set a goal like, “gain 10 lbs in 3 months”. This forced me into a numbers game where nothing but the scale mattered, so I was happy eating whatever I needed to in order to tip the scale, at the cost of not being totally satisfied with what I saw in the mirror. Nowadays, I take a picture after most workouts so that I can visually see the direction my body is going, instead of relying on the scale. Remember, one person weighing 200 lbs with a lot of fat can look completely different than another person that weighs 200 lbs with less fat and a lot of muscle.
It’s marathon, not a sprint.
When it comes to working out and seeing results, be ready for a journey. If you have a lifestyle that accommodates spending 2 hours in the gym 7 days a week (and you are happy), then have at it. Personally, I don’t have that kind of life and couldn’t imagine trying to keep that up consistently. My workout is 3 days a week, around 1 hour per day. Meaning my commitment to the gym is only around 3-4 hours per week. I’ve found this to be very manageable with my life, which includes a family and full time job. Limiting myself to this window makes it really hard for me to miss a workout.The timing of my workouts are also quite manageable since my gym is in my garage and I work from home. I’m able to get my full workout in during lunch usually. Be sure to find what is going to consistently work best for your lifestyle and treat your it like a lifelong commitment instead of a quick 3 month fix.
Remember to rest
For obvious health reasons you should rest, but sometimes
you get a 2am wake up call from your screaming child life gets in the way. Your body needs time to reset and regenerate those muscles. Sleeping is a good place to start healthy resting habits, but there are a few other areas you can also apply rest. First, if you feel an injury coming on our think you have been pushing it a bit much in the gym, take a week off. If you really don’t want to break your new gym-going habit, lighten your routine up. Do body weight and stretching exercises instead of lifting heavy. Walk instead of run. Whatever you do, do it with less intensity for a week or two. Being out of the gym due to injury can do more harm than slowing things down temporarily.
Lastly, if you are feeling sick, stressed or external pressure, don’t bring it to the gym. You could similarly wind things down a bit, but I’ve found that taking a week or two off to get through the stress makes your return to the gym much more enjoyable. The key takeaway: don’t try to force yourself into the gym, it’ll result in a less than optimal workout and is a huge motivation killer. And if you remember it no being a sprint, missing a week or two is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.