Wednesday, September 12, 2007

10 "Get The Body You've Always Wanted" Tips, Tricks and Motivators

It seems, no matter where you turn, we're obsessed with body size, exercise, and portion size. I'm obsessed as much as everyone else. So I came up with the following fitness tips and tricks to keep you motivated as winter (or at least fall) approaches. I use all ten myself, so they work (at least for me.) Feel free to add your own to the comments section! Just be sure to check with your physician if you've been a couch potato for too long and suddenly feel the urge to become Charles Atlas. Full disclosure: I find #3 the toughest to follow, unless it's combined with #1.

1. Invest in "Personal Buttkicking" (PBK)
Sign up for, but don't spend all your money on, PBK - my term for Personal Training. A trainer's expertise, motivational skill, personality and sense of humor will do wonders for your workout. Most trainers charge between $65-100 per 50-minute session, so it can get expensive. If you're strapped for funds, ask if you can contract for two sessions (I'll explain why in a minute.) Some gyms offer new members a couple of sessions gratis; if you're not new, watch for specials, or take the initiative and ask about discounts. Maximize your sessions by asking for diet and exercise tips for when you "go solo" again. Good trainers will provide you with simple meal and workout plans without being asked. Good trainers will also ask you about your goals. My reasoning for a minimum of two sessions? Trainers love clients who put everything they've got into their workout, and do it with a sense of humor. If you can muster a laugh when you think you're going to die, the trainer will remember you. Workout on your own when the trainer's with other clients and you'll feel like your in the classroom and the teacher is watching. I've had trainers volunteer tips and motivation for even after we've completed all our sessions. That's motivating!

2. Watch motivational/inspirational television shows
A steady diet of crime, murder, terrorism and political scandal on news shows, day and night soap operas, and Law & Order SVU (which I love) drains our energy. Content that's sarcastic, violent or features Brad Pitt feeds our inner critic and exposes us to hopeless scenarios. Try finding shows that feature people doing extraordinary things, that highlight creativity, and/or present others in a more positive light. "The Biggest Loser" is a good choice. "Wife Swap" is out of the question.

3. Replace your "cheat day" with a single "cheat item"
The trouble with "cheat day" - that all important 24 hours when you can eat whatever you want - is it expands too easily into "cheat 3-day." "I'll splurge on breakfast today," you rationalize, "lunch tomorrow, and dinner on Monday. I'll eat healthy the rest of the week. "Cheat meal" can go the same way, too, if you eat donuts in the morning, bacon at lunch and, what the heck, a cheesburger, fries and diet coke at dinner. I suggest focusing instead on a once-per-week cheat ITEM. For example, ice cream. Limit yourself to a pint, which forces portion control. Only buy one pint each week, close to the time you're actually going to consume it. Choose the "healthiest" brand you can find. You don't have to jettison taste - there's lots of great low-fat, low-cal, or light ice cream and sorbet out there. Take it home, give it your full attention, and eat it slooooooooooow, because that's all you get until next week. Your goal is to stop confusing your taste buds and acclimate yourself to enjoy healthier food.

4. Take stock and push ahead of the curve
I took this from my "Happiness Commandments." Basically, it's about training your mind to deal with workout pain. There are times I'm riding my bike or lifting weights at the gym when the miles or the pounds get ahead of me. I feel like something needs to pull me along, instead of pushing me from behind. At these times, I take stock of my body, asking myself "am I going to have a heart attack? A stroke? What hurts? My butt?" When I find I'm not doing too badly, and when I let my legs or arms or whatever hurt, I can compartmentalize the feeling, and keep it from taking over my entire body. And if I'm not going to have a heart attack, then I can push myself harder.

5. Sign up for a 5K
You've got to have a goal to work for - and in most cases, merely stating your desire to lose weight or build muscle isn't going to satisfy you in the long run. Have an actual event to work toward. Running your first 5K, bicycling in a charity ride, even going on a cruise or attending your high school reunion are good events to consider. Get your goal outside yourself, and you'll achieve what you need inside yourself.

6. Ask for a spot
If you're new to this whole gym thing, you could find it daunting. You might flash back momentarily to gym class in school. There's a big difference now, though. People might look focused and mean in a gym, but they're really just focused. Ask someone to spot you for a set of bench presses. You'll find that most gym denizens are happy to help out once in a while. You might even find a workout partner.

7. Find a gym as close to work or home as possible.
This is the old "location, location, location" thing. But it's especially true for gyms. Ideally, a gym should be walking distance from home or the office. If not, then try to locate one on your route from home to the office. If you don't have to go out of your way, you're more likely to get that workout in, even if you're tired and hungry and hate your life.

8. Watch out for endorphins*
Not so you can avoid the little buggers, but so you can realize when they kick in. Endorphins are chemicals your body releases, usually after some stress, which make you feel good. You may have heard the term "runner's high." That's a result of endorphins. After a stressful physical workout, your body dispatches these chemicals as a way of smoothing over the pain. It usually happens to me after a long bike ride. Watch for a general rise in your energy level an hour or so after your workout. Some people feel lighter, others more focused. Learn to recognize these feelings. If you find a way to bottle them, you'll make a fortune.
˙ǝpıɯɐpuɐuɐ pıouıqɐuuɐɔopuǝ ǝɥʇ ʎllɐǝɹ s,ʇı os 'ʇɥƃıɹllɐ*

9. Schedule your workout during your daily "transition times"
I have three daily "transition times," when my body forces me to get up and move: immediately after waking up (6:30am), lunch (12 noon), and the "late afternoon stretch" (5pm). My brain is no good at these times - but my body's jockeying at the gate. Pay attention to what your brain and body tell you during the day, especially those times your brain acts like a two-year-old and yells "I want to play!!!!" Then let it!

10. Buy something you almost can't fit into - but want to one day
Something tight, form fitting, and from the athletic store will do fine. Buy it even if it shows all your folds and bulges. You might even think the shirt or workout pants accentuate your love handles, etc. That's fine! You want it to! Then it will be easier to see your progress a few weeks down the road when the lycra doesn't have to strain so much.
This post was inspired by the Tips and Tricks blog writing contest announced yesterday at Daily Blog Tips. Thanks for the opportunity to enter!


Ravi said...

This is a GREAT post.

I'm battling with my own weight issues and this will be a fantastic reference to come back to...added to and printed for my own benefit already :-).

Keep up the good work!

Ravi said...
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