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by Matthew Powell
A Body Aware Specialist
Here we are then, those promises you made have gotta begin. If you’re serious about starting, continuing and keeping to these plans, hopefully you’ve done more by now than idly wish them to happen, but to help you to be more resolute about those resolutions, here are some tips to be going on with.
Before you start, plan out as much as possible, make a note of what has worked in the past and what hasn’t, and if, like so many, February 1st is usually the date when will power wanes, then work out why, and how, and put the necessary steps in place to avoid this. If you have a training plan, or a dietary meal planner to stick to, have them stuck to the fridge and cross them off every time they’re completed.
It’s common for many to not want initial data on weight or body fat when they start training, I guess we’d rather not know the bad news and prefer to wait for a better weight. As a Personal Trainer (PT) this is infuriating as we like to have as much data as possible to begin with and this data also acts as a ceiling with which to work with. Get a proper bodyfat score (7 site calliper test or a bioelectrical impedance test with pads on both hands AND feet) – all good PT’s will be able to offer one or the other for a small fee (and the chance to upsell some training). Take circumferential measurements, peak flow and, if available, even a spirometer reading. Once you have this data, a number of specific goals can be set over the coming months that pertain to each measurement which will give you a constant and varied focus.
There are some fantastic websites and Facebook pages you can follow for varied and sound advice (contact me on Twitter or Facebook and I will be happy to forward the links to you, they have nothing to do with me personally I promise). DON’T Cabbage soup diet, or Atkins, or Cambridge, or any of these short term, unhealthy ways to drop weight quickly. Start as you mean to go on, in every sense. Find some healthy, easily prepared, able to be frozen meals and snacks and Tupperware or freezer bag the lot. The shopping and cooking is a little inefficient to begin with but you soon become expert at it all and, whilst you have the motivation to get started, use it to get over the hump.
It’s well documented that getting together with a training partner helps to keep you honest with regularity and intensity; however who that person is matters. Having someone who is a close friend or family member often means it can be easy to back out of planned sessions as the training partner is easier to let down or quicker to forgive. Train with 2 or three people if you can, pick a colleague or the friend of a friend who is also starting a similar regimen, and be as unforgiving with them as you want them to be with you.
During any consultation, one question I would always ask is, “What have you done before that you really didn’t like?” Remember, trainers and dieticians are looking 2 / 4 / 6 weeks ahead, when the motivation is dwindling, so we’re trying to make the work outs or the meals as appealing as possible. There is no point in prescribing exercise for others, or for yourself, that you loathe.
If you hate the gym don’t join one, if you despise the treadmill or cross trainer then skip or do some intervals on a local rugby pitch or basketball court.
Yup, you’ve probably all had to do this exercise in work at some point, but as we’re planning, logging and cross checking here, make each goal Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Repeatable and Timed. “I want to lose some weight” is far too vague; how much do you want to lose, and by when, and is it realistic, and could it be done again? Even better than weight loss, make it about fat loss (see ‘Get tested’ above).
Can your goals culminate in an event? A 5K, a 10K, a half marathon even? What about a triathlon sprint? Training for a tri certainly keeps your workouts varied! If there’s something to train for, it gets you outta bed, into your training shoes, and outside far more regularly.
Having recently trained with a PT, I can’t believe I’ve been arrogant enough to think that, as a PT, I haven’t needed one all this time. The good ones aren’t cheap, I get that, but if you can afford it a good PT can make all the difference. Shop around, make sure your PT is going to test you, ask them their ideas on how they will help you achieve your goals, ensure each session is done to a plan and not made up ad hoc, make sure they have testimonials, and never be afraid to hold them to any promises they have made at the outset. Group PT sessions are a way of lessening the cost and allow you to meet others that can become training partners between PT sessions.
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