Too Much Too Soon
By: Will Kuenzel, Owner Low Country Strength
The holidays are getting close and with that the new year comes looming around the corner and so do our New Year’s resolutions. Eighty percent of the folks that join in January are gone by February. Of the remaining New Year’s resolutioners, another 80% fall off by March. I get it. The new year is a great time to get a clean slate and start something new. Just remember, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
I’ve been in the gym for almost 20 years. You see the same thing happen over and over again. New guy, or girl, joins the gym. Their first day they spend as much as 2 hours in the gym. They haven’t trained since last January. They effectively crawl out of the gym with every intention of coming back the next day. The soreness that they feel is overwhelming and it might be so bad they think they’ve pulled something. They might even call in sick from work if they’re having a really hard time moving. More than likely, they’ll skip the next few days of working out. Possibly even the rest of the week.
Combine this with a brand new “diet” and we have a recipe for failure. Our new years resolutioner might have gone to the grocery store the Sunday before starting their new training regimen. Combine poor training with some crazy new diet, usually way too few calories, and not only will they feel bad from the training but they’re going to be hungry and underfed.
The first thing I’d recommend to counter all this is to hire a personal trainer. The worst excuse I get is that they want to be in shape before coming to see me. Stop, please. I’d rather get you early, keep you safe and not have to break any bad habits later. My job is to guide you and help you reach your goals. Not fix the damage you do from not knowing what you’re doing. If a personal trainer is out of the question, then we start with these simple tasks:
1) Go the gym at least every week day, if not every day.
2) Hold off until March to start that new diet.
3) Drink more water.
Sounds simple, right? I hope so. It’s got to be easy or we can’t stick to it. Sustainability is the key. Too much too soon is something that only a rare few can do. Don’t push it. I’m sure you’re thinking, “hold on though. You want me to go to the gym every day?” Let me explain. This serves a couple different purposes.
First, you get to know the traffic patterns. Both how to get to the gym and what the gym is going to look like every day at the time you’re going. For some, getting to and from the gym can be a royal pain. Next, it helps to create a habit. The more you can do something, the more likely you’ll be to keep going. Even after missing a day or two. For 2 weeks, you must go to the gym every day. Even if you just walk on the treadmill and stretch. Just go. Get there and walk through the doors. It makes this daunting task much easier. For those that have been going to the gym for years, they’ve forgotten what it was like to step foot into an unfamiliar world for the first time. People doing all sorts of weird things that you haven’t seen or have only read about in magazines. Like traveling to a foreign country.
The whole idea of holding off on that diet until March is so that you can focus all your attention on going to the gym. You’re already changing one massive part of your lifestyle. Hold off a bit before changing everything. Make the gym a habit first. Then begin to alter the diet. If you’re great about attending the gym through the end of March, then start that crazy diet. Otherwise, when March rolls around, start changing one meal at a time. My typical recommendation is to change one meal every 2-4 weeks. It can take that long to make it efficient and part of the daily routine. Remember, the best diet is the one you can sustain. A good protein powder and some multivitamins (a la Quattro and Primer sold at www.captainjacked.com) go a long way without really making too many other changes.
The last thing was just to simply drink more water. If you’re consistently making it to the gym, then you’re going to need the hydration. Both to help increase performance and recovery, not to mention how much this helps just curb appetite and suppress cravings. Often, it’s very difficult for us to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. When in doubt, drink more water. When really in doubt, add some protein powder to the water. Kill two birds with one stone.
The biggest takeaway here is to concentrate on making easy but sustainable changes. We are where we are because it’s the routine we’ve established. It’s easy to fall back into the trap of doing what we’ve always done. If we hope to change it, we have to be able to sustain the change. Don’t do too much too soon.