Here we are again, the first month of a new year. Are you once again making resolutions or commitments to get into better shape? If so, what can you do to make the goals stick this time? Perhaps the first step is to change the goal.
Most of us who set a goal and fail to achieve it in an allotted period of time usually start a new year with the same goal in mind. However, if we do not change our approach to the goal, we will likely see the same results (or lack thereof). But often even you change your approach you still don’t achieve full success and that may be because the goal just doesn’t fit who you are or how you live. Don’t give up on your end goal, but perhaps you need to make a new plan that has a more immediate goal that will lead you ultimately to your end goal.
To make 2017 be the year that you finally achieve your fitness goals you must first assess if you have goals that are achievable. If you are under a lot of stress, have limited free time, and/or limited funds – unless it’s life threatening, 95% of you will not lose fat, tone your muscles, or improve your strength and endurance – period. The reason is that you simply can’t successfully fit consistent and effective workouts into your hectic life as well as meal and snack planning, smart shopping and time intensive food prep and cooking. So rather than lament that your life is too stuck in a hectic hamster wheel and give up on your fitness goals by March, how about if you change the goal to be to get off the hamster wheel?
Did you know that stress and lack of sleep is the number one inhibitor to fat loss? I have a client who eats clean and healthy 4-6 times a day, and works out effectively 3-4 times a week and still cannot reduce her body fat (in fact she’s seen some increase). The clear and only reason behind this is that she has a very demanding and stressful job and home life, feels emotionally “stressed out” daily and averages about 5 hours of sleep per night. I see a lot of you nodding your heads in empathy right now.
When I talk with a new life coaching client and tell them that their first and primary goal is to find a way to reduce their stress by changing or altering their job, reorganizing household chores, rules, and assignments, and carving out (and maintaining) time for themselves, they usually start hyperventilating. But the longer we talk and outline step by step plans to get them from point A to Z the calmer they become and ultimately they get energized by the plan. Then it’s just a matter of holding them accountable, while maintaining fluidity to change the plans as the needs arise, and soon not only do they see a positive change to their bodies, they feel a radical and beneficial change to their entire lives.
With all this said, I assign all of you who have a goal yet achieved (and often failed at on an annual basis) to look at the bigger picture and perhaps pick a new goal – one that will ultimately get you to your old goal – but one that is more important and more achievable at this time and place in your life. As always, I’m here to advise as a personal trainer and life strategies coach if you wish to work with me.
Now go make 2017 different!
As a business owner, I utilize many of the top social networking sites to promote Dane Life Fitness. Sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr utilize a visual format to entice viewers to stop and read, and then perhaps “buy” whatever it is we’re selling. Lately I have been dismayed as I see a huge surge in posts displaying women whose abs are so muscle bound that they sport more than the proverbial 6-pack – they have an 8-pack and oblique striations (see photo below).
These are not muscle-bound she-men training for a body building competition, these are young (20-30’s) athletic women who have achieved the type of abs usually viewed only on super low-fat and fit men. Clearly it’s great that women have figured out how to finally lower their body fat levels to such a state that their flat tummies rival men – OR IS IT?
While I applaud these women who work hard and make their daily focus be exercise and extreme nutrition, I’ve stated time and time again that women NEED body fat if we are to be healthy. Obviously we need our body fat levels to stay in a certain “lean” range for our health’s sake (17-28% depending on age and build), but the female form is not supposed to be as low-fat as the male body naturally is. Not to mention that the aforementioned extreme nutrition makes life sometimes feel stressfull — after all, we’re supposed to be able to enjoy good food, wine and chololate (in moderation) aren’t we?! (Oprah says yes!)
Why this is a detrimental trend in my view is because women with body fat levels lower than 17% can and do see a weakening in their immune systems, poor circulation (personal thermostat levels), menstrual and reproduction systems compromised, and thyroid confusion (thyroid malfunction is not surprisingly on the rise). It is especially hard on the body when these low-fat levels are forced vs. natural. What I mean by that is some girls/women are born naturally thin with super fast metabolisms. I was one of those – I was 5′ 7″ by age 15, but I still couldn’t break 100 lbs until I was about 22 (with 15% body fat). But I didn’t starve myself ever, I had (and still do) have a great immune system, and clearly my body could handle it. Forcing your body to have super low body fat levels when it’s not natural creates a great strain internally, especially on your organs.
Now that I am in my 50’s, and while still lean and healthy (19% body fat), no longer sport my own concave lower abs, I realize more than ever how detrimental it is to women to be always told we need to have flat abs. We’re supposed to be slightly round between our ribs and hips – we’re supposed to be curvy and…well…feminine. These uber-lean models are changing what our young girls think about how their bodies should look.
The worst part of this is that 85% of men when polled about their preferences fessed up to actually not finding super skinny or overly-toned women as attractive as someone with a little “softness” to their build. Men want us to be women – not walking muscles. So one must ask, why are we so obsessed with a washboard stomach?
With all this as food for thought, once again I plead with all my female followers and friends to maintain healthy levels of body fat, but more importantly to love your bodies and your stomach in particular. Join me in re-labeling what is attractive and sexy in our own perceptions and embrace being well-rounded individuals – including our abs!
“Why should I work with a personal trainer?” “What does a trainer do that I can’t do on my own?” These are questions I am asked regularly. My answers are forth coming in this week’s blog, what I like to call my “shameless plug.”
Clearly, most people view personal trainers as a luxury. They are well aware of the benefits obtained by working with a trainer, but when economic times are tough, those benefits are viewed as luxury items. However, I feel there are some significant cost savings to working with a trainer, but you might not see them unless you look a little further down the road.
The obvious benefits to working with a certified personal trainer are:
1. One less thing to think about. That’s right, with a trainer there’s one less thing for you to think and worry about. We tell you what to do, how to do it, and make sure you’re doing it correctly. Thirty to sixty minutes later, your workout is done, your one step closer to your fitness goals, and all you had to do was show up.
2. Motivator. When your motivation and fortitude fall short, your trainer offers you that much-needed emotional understanding and support to re-motivate you and keep you on track with your fitness goals.
3. Accountability. Someone to hold you accountable for the other 23 hours each day when you are supposed to eat sensibly, drink water, and move more. Accountability is one of the strongest motivators that keeps my clients on track.
But here are some less obvious benefits that come with a personal trainer:
1. Variety. One of the keys to success in your fitness goals is variety of exercises. This not only keeps your brain challenged (and not bored), but keeps your body from plateauing (one of the biggest culprits to one’s failure to achieve their fitness goals).
2. Guilt. No, I’m not talking about feelings of guilt that you ate what you shouldn’t the night before (although that kind of guilt can serve as a huge motivator) – I’m referring to guilt about wasting money. When money is on the line, you’d be surprised how much more likely you are to show up and do the work.
3. Cost savings. The amount of money people waste annually on fad diets, current-rage exercise DVD’s, infomercial miracle exercise equipment is a at least double the amount it would cost you to work with me twice a week for one year. If you tallied up what you’ve spent over the last five years attempting to get into shape, I bet you’d find that you could have achieved your goal in half the time for half the money if you’d just worked with a trainer.
You mustn’t underestimate how much knowledge personal trainers have that you don’t. Every year we must complete several courses of Continuing Education to remain certified. This year I am studying three specialty courses: Nutrition for Women – Menopause & Beyond; Vegetarian Nutrition; and Carbohydrate Requirements for Exercise. Wouldn’t you like to have access to that kind of specific information without having to study it yourself?
So as the year comes to a close and those new year’s resolutions rear up, consider making 2015 the year you work with a trainer and finally get your body where you want it.
One last note as to something I specifically offer clients that many trainers do not, is my website www.workouts247.com. In my efforts to accommodate my more advanced clients, or clients who are truly on a limited budget, I offer a site where I will customize a workout routine to any individual. This allows you, at a fraction of the cost of working with a trainer weekly, to receive a workout that takes the guess-work out of how to quickly achieve your fitness goals. If you already know proper (and safe) exercise forms and are self-motivated, but still need that extra push (via accountability and the aforementioned guilt motivation) then this option is a perfect fit.