Holy cow, I knew what I wanted to write as a topic for this piece, but I kept coming up with blanks for a title. Actually not blanks, but as a former Platoon Sergeant, what I had coming to mind was in all probability going to scare a few of you off before you ever got to my first paragraph.
Today is Tuesday, January 1, 2019 and all around the world good folks have made lofty resolutions which they are likely to abandon before the end of the first month if not the first week. The retired Platoon Sergeant in me is anxously wanting to come out in this piece as I want to motivate as much as I want to inform, but I had better keep that persona locked away, for now anyhow…
In the last few days, weeks and or months, people eager to make a change in their lives for the better have been coming up with New Years resolutions, and today is the day to execute these promises to self. Today is the day to either go forth and conquer, and rule your own world, or it could be the day where you begin to realize that in short order, you may actually cower and whimper away in personal defeat. Either way, it is going to come down to personal choice. You can choose to take charge of your health or you can choose not to. You can use every reason and excuse in the book, you can even make up a few new ones, but still you will be making a choice. Sometimes bad things do indeed happen to good people, life events that knock us on our asses. Death or illness of loved ones, personal injury, loss of jobs and on and on, but still we make choices how we deal with these life issues and then move on. And no, I am not saying this is easy, but I am saying that it is necessary to choose to stay on top of healthy life habits even when we have been kicked in the teeth by life. We owe it to our loved ones to take care of ourselves the best we can. If we are parents, we damned sure owe it to our children to set an example of how to live and cope. We owe it to our children to be strong and to show them we can carry on through diversity. We have an obligation to not just let our health fail because of weak personal dietary and exercise habits which can and often do leave families bankrupt from unnecessary medical bills.
If you are still with me at this point, you are probably muttering something like “OK Sergeant Yochim, we get the damn picture, we have made our choices and they are good.” Moving on now, what are your resolutions? Is is to lose weight, get fit, look better in a bathing suit this summer? Have you been more specific with your goals, such as lose 20 lbs, lower my blood pressure by 10 percent, take 6 inches off my waist, run a 5k by May? Being specific over being vague in your goals is going to take you much farther in your journey, where vague goals will soon leave you meandering around and quitting as you have no set markers to achieve. Also a lack of knowledge as how you can most effectively reach your goals is going to hurt you too.
If you have decided to go on a “diet” you really need to brush up on your nutritional knowledge and it will behoove you to know exactly how many calories a day you need to consume in order to meet your goals. This is true, even if you decide to use the Weight Watchers app where you have a point system. On Weight Watchers social media Connect, I see all the time where people are struggling to lose their weight and it really comes down to a lack of basic nutritional knowledge for a lot of them.
If you use a weight management app, then take a little time to brush up on your body’s need for macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats. Find out your daily caloric needs and adjust your dietary habits accordingly. A good calculator can be found on https://idealprotein.com/bmr-calculator-2/ or on MyFitnessPal.
Weight Watchers will tell you that you can eat anything you want as long as you track it. That is fine as long as you have the will power to not cave in to cravings, especially carbohydrate cravings. Of course, if you had that will power, odds are you would not be using their program, right? In my opinion, this is the weakest link to an otherwise excellent program, Really, for lots of people there is no need to deprive yourself of anything, but a good many on Weight Watchers is not going to benefit by still eating cakes and ice cream that are sugar laden, even if they track it The simple carbs activate your serotonin and dopamine which will keep you wanting to come back for more. Those chemicals produced within our bodies make us feel good. If you must have sweet treats, then keep visiting this blog, we have lots of delicious sugar free alternative recipes which your family and loved ones will never realize they are not eating sugar. Our recipes are either my own creation or recipes I have personally modified to get rid of all sugar.
If you walked into and joined a commercial gym this morning, I truly hope that you thought it through really well before you signed up for an expensive year long commitment. If you went in with eyes wide open, then this is a fantastic step. However, if you entered with vague goals and little idea of how you are going to achive them, then you may find that you are wasting a tremendous amount of hard earned cash every month, and here is why:
- Physical fitness takes a lot of dedication and a commitment to hard work. There are no short cuts. If you just enter a gym and meander around, while this is better than sitting on your couch, what you do not know can hurt you and or hinder your progress, what ever that may be.
- If you want to be a “cardio bunny” do you have any idea why you feel this is a good choice? I’m not implying that going the cardio route is not good for your body, but do you know why you want to do cardio? Do you know how to run? Do you know how to prevent getting shin splints or do you even know what this painful condition may be? Do you know how to pick out a decent pair of shoes for running? If you want to attempt a cardio route, then a good place to start is with the app Couch to 5k.
- Maybe you have decided that you want to “tone” your body through strength training. If this was your plan, then you need to know you could not be more vague about what you are going to do and your goal is also going to be elusive.
- Do you want to or know how to safely use free weights? Have you taken the time to learn the lifts and proper forms? I hope you know to start lighter than you may believe you need to and that improper form can and will hurt you before you see progress.
- Do you want to use the shiny machines? Do you feel they are safer for you, and do you have a clear understanding of them? Know that you can injure yourself on machines too.
- In strength training, do you understand the importance of using a set program? Do you know the best sets/reps scheme you are going to use and why? Are you aware that you need to do lifts that are complimentary to the mirror muscle groups, rather for each pushing lift you do, you need to do a pulling exercise too?
- Do you know how to keep from stalling out? Do you understand that at some point everyone does stall?
- Have you bought into the bullshit that you have to switch up what you are doing every six weeks to cause muscle confusion?
- If you are thinking “I want six pack abs”, you need to understand that abs are made in the kitchen. Abs are a direct result of being lean. No matter how many sit ups, crunches and leg raises you do, your abs are not going to be visible unless your diet is dialed in and you have gotten lean.
Friends, there is nothing about strength training and cardio that equals superior intellect such as required for rocket science. However, you need to learn all that you can about the route you decide is best for you. A lack of knowledge can lead you to injury which at best might only require a couple days rest with ice packs. At worst, you could require surgical repairs. To continue progress when the going gets tough, you have to have a plan, just winging it does not cut it for most people.
If you have not signed a year long membership for your local gym yet, ask yourself if you are going to be truly dedicated for the long run. Be honest with yourself about this finacial decision. See if you can get a short term trial membership before siging a long term contract. Ask yourself if you are prepared to treat your physical fitness regimen with the same importance as you do your job. Physical fitness requires commitment. Always remember this, you do not own your level of fitness, you are only renting it. If you do not pay your rent through regular exercise and diet, then you will forfeit your fitness. This is true for everyone.