Planning Fitness NY’s Resolutions?

Are you planning on making a fitness New Year’s Resolution? Then I have some advice for you.

Personally I’m anti sudden resolutions. But if that’s your thing, and you are looking forward to changing your life into a fitness lifestyle, here’s what my experience has taught me. I hope it helps you!

Knowledge is power. Look for reliable information online and always cross-check references. Don’t take any article/news piece at face value, research its contents.  Learn how your body deals with different foods. Learn what exercise does to your body and mind. In my experience, for example, knowing in greater detail what a cookie does to your body and brain will take you half way away from it.

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Take baby steps. Some people go for that “all or nothing approach”, but that doesn’t work for most of us. Humans are creatures of habit, and trying to change everything in one go can easily be overwhelming. For me it worked to focus on one small change at a time. Many tiny victories instead of one gigantic defeat.

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Be patient. Changes don’t happen quickly, they just don’t. Successfully introducing alterations to your behaviour takes time, and consequently so do changes to your body. If you are overweight, I’m sure you didn’t put the weight on overnight, so don’t expect it come off overnight either. It’s a process, and processes take time. Focus on the changes themselves, rather than on the results.

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Focus on health and progress. If you choose to focus on being healthy and on achieving a little bit more on each workout, the weight will kinda take care of itself. Spend your energy trying to achieve optimum nutrition to properly fuel your body, and on getting out of your comfort zone during your exercise routine, rather that on losing X pounds.Your body and mind will reward you: you will feel amazing. Trust me.

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Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. As you may have heard: “you can’t outrun your fork”. If you are looking for a sustainable, long term lifestyle change take into account that nutrition and exercise are BFFs not to be separated. You can work your heart out, but if you go home and don’t mind what you put on your plate you won’t make much progress, fat loss wise. I started exercising first, but I noticed a great boom in my body volume loss once I started eating better, baby-step by baby-step.

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Be prepared for setbacks. The road from obese to healthy is a hard one. You can clearly see some obstacles coming, others not so much. You will make mistakes, believe me you will! Accept them as a part of the path, and most importantly learn from them so you won’t do them again, or at least you will see them coming next time.

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Look for a support group. I was fortunate enough to not have to look for it. The right people sort of gathered around me. I firmly believe I would never have come this far without them. Positive, encouraging, challenging, empathetic voices were, and still are, crucial to me. I feel like I owe them a great part of my progress for they believed in me even when I, myself, didn’t. They were understanding without being condescending, so they kept (and keep) challenging me to do more, to be more. So my advice would be to look for people like this in your life, they will help you a great deal.

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Do the work. It’s your body and yours alone. No one can do the work for you. Even the best personal trainer in the world won’t be able to help you if you don’t do the work. Correcting your eating habits, giving your all during your workouts, that’s your work to do. Others can only guide and motivate you. It will be hard, very hard, but brace yourself for it.

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And that’s about it for this post. If you browse through this blog you will find several posts in which I talk about the several pieces of advice I have shared above.

One final thought:

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Now, why should you listen to me?
Well, I started changing my life in April 2014 and the last time I weighed myself – in October 2015- I had lost 46kg. Most importantly, the last time I measured – in July 2015 – I had lost 24% body fat ( I will measure everything again in February or March).
So I consider myself successful in my – forever ongoing- journey towards health. That’s why 😉

Monday Thought

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I have progressed further than I could ever have dreamt I would.
I ended completely changing my lifestyle, and my body had no choice but to follow.

It was a process – in several ways it still is –  , and a very challenging one. Therefore it’s not all smooth sailing, but as long as we’re willing to do the work, it’s perfectly achievable.

Listen to Rafiki

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I once read two sentences which, in the long run, have come to make total sense to me:

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

One reason people resist change is because they focus on that they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain.

At this point I believe it doesn’t really matter how much you’ve let your self go, or how many times you’ve given up on changing your body. It’s never too late to make a change – or many small changes – and focus your energy on the new things you have to gain, like health, strength and overall well being.

Gotta start somewhere

Every expert was once a beginner. Too many people forget that too easily.

When I first joined the gym I was a fish – more like a puffer fish – out of water. But I knew that if I gave up that would never change. During those truly uncomfortable and frustrating first months I kept this in mind:

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And if my experience is worth anything, I can assure you the voice in your head saying “Pppffff… I’ll nevah be able to do that” is a liar. Remember: I joined the gym at 113kg, unable to do a single push-up to save my life, so in the beginning I heard that voice A LOT. I consciously chose to ignore that voice, I heard it alright… just didn’t give it credit. Just because I can’t do it today, that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do it someday, I just need more practice.

And then, every time you’re finally able to do something that just last week you couldn’t, the feeling is something like this:

Setbacks

Sometimes I get sidetracked. Last time I checked I’m human, and all humans are flawed. However, humans are also intelligent, so I strive to learn from my derailments, which are mostly food related.

We don’t say “old habits die hard” for no reason… Before new actions / choices become habit, people instinctively drift towards their comfort zone. And my comfort zone was pretty much Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and I was a female Augustus Gloop ( him ). So before enough time had passed for new habits to set in I frequently found myself slowly increasing my sugar intake, instead of decreasing it or at least levelling it out, or eating more frozen food than what I had established for that week, etc. The sugar part still happens some times, even after 16 months, but by now I have enough experience to recognize the signs at an early stage and stop it before I take too many steps back. But I didn’t know this at first: I learned it. The hard way.

I try to learn from my mistakes, and I look at failure as a stepping stone. Sure I failed, but I will learn from it and I’ll start again, this time more intelligently. Next time I’ll do better, for now I know. That’s how I came up with my supermarket strategies, for example.

It took me reaching my late 20s to realize that failure is not the opposite of success, but rather just part of the path – the growing pains if you will – to success. So there really is no point in giving up because of a couple of setbacks.

For now I’ll leave you with these 2 messages to think about:

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To be better.

Even though I haven’t tried crossfit, and don’t even own a single item by this brand, an ad by Reebok hit close to home.
It asks “why do we do it?” why do we put up with constantly feeling beaten and sore? and then provides the best description of what has been underlying my lifestyle change:

«[To be] better, stronger, more determined humans. To honour our bodies and sharpen our minds.»

Thank you Reebok’s marketing team, I couldn’t have said it better.