Okay, so gyms are reopening as people get vaccinated and we go back to “normal,” whatever the hell that means. Now what? After a year of shutdowns, isolation and stay at-home orders, most of us have suffered the health consequences of being inactive. Personally, I hate the articles that point out how much the average weight gain for Americans during last year was. Unfortunately, this is part of the problem. I’ll save my rant about mainstream media for another day, but no one should feel bad for gaining weight and backsliding a little. Hell, I’m a personal trainer and I packed on a few pounds.
This past year was incredibly hard for us all for so many different reasons, no need to get into it any more than that. To quote Qui-Gon Jinn from Phantom Menace: “Keep your concentration here and now where it belongs.” All we can do is move forward. So, what’s the best way to do it? How does one get back in-shape and hopefully beat their prior best self? Below, I’m going to lay out the approach I use for myself and my clients.
- Movement. Just. Get. Freaking. Moving. I don’t care what it is, just pick something. Want to swing a kettlebell? Awesome, get it done! Want to walk? Awesome, go do it! Want to train for a marathon? Let’s go! Want to join a CrossFit gym and start crushing WOD’s? Fantastic. Fuck dogma and judgment, find something you enjoy and stick with it. Long-term consistency is what it takes. Don’t worry about starting a specific program, just get your body moving.
- Water. Drink it. While hydration is very important for health and performance, drinking water regularly will help you control portion sizes during meals. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and tell me how you’re feeling after a couple of weeks. Keep it simple: Take your body weight in pounds, cut that number in half. Aim for that number of ounces daily. You might be surprised by how challenging it is, initially!
- Manage caloric intake. Adjust your calories based on your goals. If you want to lose weight, you need to be in a deficit (consuming less than you’re burning). If you want to gain weight, you need to be in a surplus (consuming more than you’re burning). You probably get the idea, but if you want to maintain your weight, consume the same amount of calories that you burn. Let your goals be the guiding principle behind this tactic. After a couple weeks of reading labels coupled with our habitual nature, you’ll be a pro.
- Prioritize rest and quality nutrition over supplements. There isn’t a product on the shelf at any nutrition store that trumps sleep and good nutrition. Think of supplements as a band-aid approach. Sleep and nutrition are the key to sustainable results and improving your health.
- Once movement has become a habit, it’s time to get down to business. What are your fitness goals? What do you want to achieve as a direct result of your training? Your workouts should be bringing you closer and closer to reaching that goal. If you’re unsure what to do, hire a coach. I’ve been a personal trainer for 7+ years and I have a coach! There’s nothing wrong with hiring a professional.
- Increase your NEAT. NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is any and all movement in-addition to your time in the gym. There are so many different ways to achieve this, the most common example being “take the stairs instead of the elevator.” My favorite is to park the car in the back of the lot so I have to walk further to the store. You’ll be amazed by how these seemingly small steps will add-up! I’ve even seen coworkers conduct full staff meetings while walking. The possibilities are endless.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these strategies work. I have years of experience to back up this simple method. Don’t be fooled, though. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it isn’t deadly effective. Give it a shot!
To your lifelong health and success,