Remember that time you successfully lost a bunch of weight during the weeks leading up to Christmas and the new year?
Yeah, me either.
For most of us, the month of December is full of holiday gatherings, unfriendly weight loss foods, and a whole lot of food justification.
Although you could start a weight loss program on December 1 and be successful, you are more than likely setting yourself up for failure.
Choosing a time of year when granny is making her famous bundt cake just for you is simply poor strategy when you are deathly afraid of telling her no.
ESPECIALLY when you are just starting out on a weight loss goal.
Many times you hear people say that failed fitness efforts are a result of a person having no willpower, poor work ethic, or not truly wanting to change.
Although those can play a role, many times failure in fitness comes from trying to make good changes in bad environments.
The failure is a result of bad strategy.
For example, if you are an easily distracted person, it probably isn’t wise to write a college paper on your computer while you also have Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube open.
Likewise, trying to read a book while your favorite television show is on in the background likely won’t result it much quality reading.
You have to make your environment conducive to success.
Why start a fitness program that you know is going to be challenging during a month when you can already think of fifteen things that might cause it to not go well?
You have to choose the path of least resistance.
Don’t get me wrong, in the years to come, you will obviously have periods of time where working out and eating on plan is going to coincide with challenging times of your life.
However, when you FIRST begin a program, it’s wise to have a strategy that will set you up for the best possible results.
After all, the first four weeks that a person is on a program will often make or break their psyche. If things are going well, they typically get hooked and stay motivated.
On the other hand, if the first four weeks yields little change, people are often prone to jump ship.
A sound strategy can make or break your success.
So what does a sound fitness strategy look like?
It’s going to be different for every person, but there are three core items that can get you on the right track.
Everyone who starts a fitness program is at peak motivation in the beginning. They are super pumped and excited to start killing it.
Many want to take on the world.
4, 5, 6 workouts a weak, they don’t care! They want more!
Give them a super strict eating plan that will get the best results possible and they will be happy.
Not a single “unhealthy” food ever?
“No problem”, they say!
This manic mindset usually causes failure.
Can a newcomer to fitness withstand a very intense workout and eating program for a period of time?
But, nine times out of ten it’s for about a month.
Even if it’s longer, say three or four months, who cares?
If the habits that you are starting in your fitness program are not sustainable to some degree for life, what’s the point?
Using an aggressive jump start at the beginning of a program is completely fine. I use it with many clients and the results keep morale high and keep them wanting more.
However, four weeks is typically where many people will flounder if they continue to attempt to train and eat at perfection level.
A handful of folks can keep it up longer term, but most newbies to fitness cannot go from zero to complete overhauled perfection overnight.
Sustainability is the number one thing I feel most personal trainers get wrong.
Your goal is to be fit and healthy for life, not for a month or two.
Initially, you do need to keep your regime pretty tight. Having off plan foods every week in your first month is going to yield dismal results.
However, after a few months of sound training you should be able to have a piece of cake at your child’s birthday party or a couple drinks at a business meeting and see virtually no negative effects.
Making sure you are on a program that yields results, yet is sustainable LONG TERM, can make or break your results in fitness.
2. Order of Goals You Attack
Some folks brand new to fitness are ready to take it all on, but many will throw in the towel if there are too many goals to conquer immediately.
This is where you have to determine what goals you are looking to change and what is the most strategic order of doing so.
Let’s say you want to lose body fat, gain muscle, increase mobility and flexibility, become confident strength training in the gym, become skilled at cycling, and compete in a sprint triathlon.
If on day one of your fitness program you had every one of those things on your mind, you would be setting yourself up for a problem.
Having goals is GREAT. Having unrealistic goals can become very demotivating.
The key is order.
If a person had the above goals on their list, a sound strategy can keep them content and on track to reach them all, but a poor strategy will cause them to struggle reaching any of them.
Indirectly, doing most of those things is in some way aiding the others, but for a newbie to fitness, the list needs to be trimmed to a couple specific goals in the beginning.
For most people new to fitness, their first few months should be spent working on losing body fat, becoming confident in how to strength train, and increasing mobility and flexibility.
All of the other goals can take a back seat for a bit while the core goals settle in.
You will ALWAYS be more successful in fitness when a strong foundation has been built in the beginning.
3. Avoid and Attack At the Right Times
This is where you have to be militaristic.
In war, an army attacks at what is presumed to be the right time. Battles are not started aimlessly because the general had a good cup of coffee that morning.
Similarly, battles are avoided when the timing is wrong. If half the troops come down with leprosy, it would probably be a good time to avoid a war.
You need to deploy these types of strategies.
Learning when to AVOID is key.
If you know your co-workers go out to lunch every day at restaurants that serve only food that will cause you to go off plan, bring a lunch to work.
If you know that your friend’s party is only going to have bad food choices, make sure you eat before you go so that you don’t give in and binge.
If you know the “Chatty Cathy” group in the weight room at the gym is always there at 5 pm, figure out how you can go at 6 pm or another time they aren’t hounding you during your workouts.
When you are at the grocery store buying food for the week, do not buy anything off plan. The majority of the time if a bad food choice isn’t in the house you won’t put in the effort to go get it. This will keep you on track more often than not.
These are situations where you plan ahead in order to AVOID problems.
Conversely, you also have to know when to ATTACK.
Perhaps there is a trainer you really like working with and you know they can help you succeed. However, they only have availability before you go to work at 6 am. Make it work.
If you know that when you get home from work at 8 pm you are so hungry you will eat whatever is available with little preparation, make sure you have pre-made meals so that going off plan is not inevitable.
If you are motivated by working out with others, join a quality group strength training class and use the others involved to bolster your accountability and consistency.
Knowing when to avoid or attack can greatly influence your success in a fitness program.
This is very important in the beginning when skipping workouts or indulging in the wrong foods is easy to justify.
Beginning a fitness program is never easy.
There are parts that are more challenging than others, but all in all the reward down the road is greatly worth it.
If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.
Shoot me an email at: JwaltersPT@gmail.com
Or, learn more at my website: www.JonWalters.CO