By : John Chips
2018 was supposed to be the year that you (finally) got in shape. And yet the first quarter of the year is over and you’ve slid back into your old ways. Not exercising enough, not eating well and generally not taking care of your body.
Rest easy, you are not alone, in fact an estimated 92% of people bail on their new years resolutions. You know why you need to get in shape (to keep up with your kids, to build self confidence, to sleep better) and you know how to get in shape (go to gym, eat more greens, cut back on sugar).
So why can’t you seem to get in shape?
You Think Your Problems Are Unique
In 2013, Maria Kang, a fitness professional went viral. She had posted a photo of her and her three kids with the caption “What’s your excuse”. It was a very controversial photo and she got blasted for body shaming and setting unrealistic expectations for women. She explained she was simply trying to motivate her followers to overcome their personal hurdles.
I’m not here to argue sides or suggest anyone should subscribe to the idea that, their body should look like that. From my personal experiences when one swings too far to the “fit” side of the spectrum it can become all engrossing and just as unhealthy.
I simply want to point out that your problems aren’t unique. That is NOT to say they are not real. They are very real and they create real challenges. The point here is we are all fighting our own personal battles; the trick is to not assume it can’t be done because of those challenges.
Common Problems [And How to Fix Them]
- Your job and/or family obligations leave you no time to workout
The thought of going to the gym after working a 10 hour shift can be daunting. One way around this is by building a workout-break calendar.
Use Time-Out or another similar break app, that freezes your screen or reminds you to take a break every 30-60 minutes. Your workout calendar can be simple; squats, sit-ups, pushups and lunges are a good place to start.
If you’re breaking your day up into 30 minute segments you’ll have 16-20 breaks per day. Create 12 boxes that you have to tick each day.
As an example 20 squats would be one box. 15 pushups might be another. The boxes should be fairly easy, if you make them too difficult you won’t do them.
As you build up strength increase the reps. This may feel too simplistic but I promise it works. You will be amazed by the change in your body composition if you stick to this for a few months.
If that doesn’t work for you, find something that does. The CEO of KLM airlines runs 10km every morning. That’s what works for him, find something that works for you. Again don’t set outlandish goals that are hard to meet, the key is consistency not intensity.
- You don’t have enough money for a gym membership
Typically, when people tell me they can’t or won’t invest in their health it’s a cover-up for another concern or issue that they’re having. That said, if you are financially strapped here are two ways around that.
- Build a kettlebell. Here is one option, here is a second option or if you’d prefer buy a kettlebell . A single kettlebell (12kg for women, 16kg for men is a good palce to start) is all you need for an unlimited number of full body workouts that can be done in under 20 minutes. Simply search “kettlebell complex” and you’ll find hundreds of routines.
- Sprints and body weight exercises. Find a park and create your own outdoor, equipment free workout. Sprints are a terrific place to start (it’s not a fluke that all sprinters have incredible bodies), add in other bodyweight exercises like squat and lunge variations.
- You don’t know where or how to start
Working out can be intimidating. I’ve played sports and have worked out my entire life and I still get intimidated when I walk into a gym that I’m not familiar with. There is no shame in that.
If that is what is holding you back invest in your health, hire a trainer for 6 sessions. They’ll be able to work with you on building a program that is suitable for your fitness level and ability. When you’re done with the sessions you’ll walk away with a fitness routine and more importantly the confidence that you’re doing the exercises correctly.
- You can’t get a handle on eating or you yo-yo diet.
My wife’s father is the king of the yo-yo diet. He’s tried dozens of diets and had good results with almost all of them. Wait what?
The problem isn’t the diet, it’s what happens after a month or two – he stops following the diet.
And I don’t blame him, diets stick around because they’re effective and they’re effective because they’re extreme. And because they’re extreme they’re almost impossible to stick to.
You need to make calculated decisions about what you can truly live (with in moderation) and what you can live without. For a lot of people the easiest place to start is with what you drink.
Water, coffee and tea is where your drink list should stop and end. Get rid of soda, juice and bizarre ready-to-drink beverages. Liquid calories are the worst kind of calories; they don’t fill you up and they count just the same.
- You lack motivation
The will or desire to fit exercise into an already busy schedule is challenging. I know that I need to go lift weights after work today, to stick to my routine and I can already feel the resistance setting in. This is my current internal dialogue.
Maybe, I’ll skip today. I sure would rather go hang out with my nephew than go do leg day. I’m a little bit stiff today from yesterday’s run. It’s Friday, and the snow has FINALLY melted – maybe I could sneak a quick patio beer in.
I will battle that inner voice all the way up to putting gym clothes on and walking out the door. In the War of Art, Stephen Pressfield talks about how artists need to be a professional, which basically just amounts to showing up. I take the mentality that I need to be a professional when it comes to taking care of my body. It’s the most important job I have.
If you’re just starting out, I would go back to the advice in number 1, make so easy you can’t say no. Start small and build your way up!
Wrapping It Up
We all have valid reasons not to take care of our bodies. The first step is to identify which problem you’re running up against. Once you’ve figured that out build habits and programs around these challenges, which make it so easy you can’t say no.