*No, I’m not talking about physically hopping up and down like a bunny.
I spent this past weekend in Chicago with my wife, and some of my closest friends watching one abysmal baseball team (my Minnesota Twins), and one extremely dominant team (the Chicago Cubs).
On Sunday, we weren’t in too much of a hurry to get back to Madison, and we decided to grab a late breakfast at an awesome restaurant we found (check out Kanela Breakfast Club if you are in town, I highly recommend it!).
A group of people sat down at the table next to us, and from the minute they sat down, one of the girls in the group started talking about working out. Now, we weren’t trying to listen in, she just gave us no choice. She proceeded to talk very loudly – THE ENTIRE MEAL – about all the different workout modalities that she has tried. She truly may have listed off every single workout program/facility (to name a few; Crossfit, Orange Theory, yoga, pilates, barre, P90x, Insanity, spinning, running, bootcamps, abs classes…) you could ever think of.
After naming each one of them, she went on to explain how she didn’t get results from any of them, or she was too sore from one, or one wasn’t hard enough, or one was too boring, and on and on.
While some of these options may not be the best for everyone, most of them all have their benefits in their own unique way if done correctly.
In my head, I wanted to tell her, “maybe you should just try sticking to one program for longer than 3 days, and then give it a fair assessment” – but I just kept sipping my coffee, because it was really none of my business.
When it comes to exercise and nutrition, this is an all too common problem. Hopping from program to program, diet to diet, and hoping for these miraculous results.
If you are truly just looking to mix it up, and try new things for fun, or stress relief, or for general fitness, this isn’t the worst thing you could do.
However, if you are truly looking for the results that most programs advertise, you need to see them out. Just like the now dominant Chicago Cubs, they stuck with their farm system (and a few free agents here and there), and are now on pace to set some season records in the MLB.
The same goes with diet hopping.
There are so many fad diets out there that promise amazing results. However, the first thing I always caution with my clients is that it must be something you can stick to for the long term to maintain those results you initially get. Sure, any diet that restricts calories by cutting out a huge chunk of food (carbs, fat, meat, gluten foods, etc.) will get you to lose weight. But can you stick to that diet for the long run?
So what should you do?
1. Pick Your Goals, and Find the Right Program for YOU
If your goals are to look like an NFL linebacker, you need to train like one and eat like one. If you want to look like a fitness model, you need to train like one and eat like one.
What if you just want to get a little healthier, and lose a few pounds in the process?
Find a well balanced program that focusses on strength, cardio, flexibility, or whatever your goals may be – but just stick to it!
2. Find a Program That You Enjoy, and Track Progress
You have to enjoy what you do, or you will burn out, get bored, and want to quit pretty quick. This goes for diet as well. The holy grail of workouts and diets will not help you if you don’t enjoy it, and stick to it.
When it comes to tracking progress, this is something a lot of people don’t do enough of. Invest in a $5 notebook, and track everything you do in your workout. This way, you can look back and see if you are progressing. Depending on your abilities, age, and overall goals, there are many ways to progress.
- Lifting heavier
- Lifting for more reps
- Running/biking/cardio-ing further
- Running/biking/cardio-ing faster
- Increasing time of work/time under tension
Now, we can’t always go heavier and heavier, especially as we age. But by tracking different progress, such as reps or time, you can still progress.
The key is that you are always increasing SOMETHING, over time. This could look something like this:
- Week 1 – Squatted 100 pounds for 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 2 – Squatted 100 pounds for 1 set of 12 reps, and 2 sets of 10 reps
- Week 3 – Squatted 100 pounds for 2 sets of 12 reps, and one set of 10 reps
- Week 4 – Squatted 100 pounds for 3 sets of 12 reps
- Week 5 – (deload – or go lighter for recovery purposes – don’t forget recovery!)
- Week 6 – Squatted 105 pounds for 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 7 – Squatted 105 pounds for 1 set of 12 reps, and 2 sets of 10 reps
You get the idea. While this may not be fast enough for some, this is still true progression!
Same thing goes with diet.
Track your bodyweight (weekly), track your waist circumference, track your body fat %, take weekly progress pictures in your underwear, anything that you want to track.
If you aren’t seeing a long term change happening, then maybe you need to work on adherence.This could be because you decided to do a crazy crash diet cleanse program that is not sustainable for the long term, or maybe you just didn’t stick to a well rounded program. Whatever it may be, you need to be honest with yourself, and assess what went right, and what went wrong.
3. Stick It Out, and Give it Your All
Once you decide on your goals, and once you find a program that has shown results that match your goals, hit it hard, and with everything you’ve got.
Whether it’s 12 weeks, 6 months, or a full year planned out, you need to keep it up. Just like getting out of shape doesn’t happen over night, getting the results you want for the long term doesn’t happen overnight either.
You need to give things time and effort to see change. I still remember my first day ever lifting weights. I could barely bench press an empty 45 pound bar for 10 reps. I remember seeing the high school seniors putting up 225 like it was no big deal. Did I expect to be able to do that over night, or even by the end of freshman year? No.
I worked, and worked, and worked, and by junior year I hit the 225 mark, and went far beyond it by my senior year in college when I put up a personal best of 350. Yes, that was 8 years! It took time, consistency, and effort.
Anything worth accomplishing will take work, sweat, and time. If you keep giving it your all, doing what you love, and tracking your progress, you will get there!
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Stay healthy my friends,