Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to Stay Focused and Fit Year Round

We have all taken at least one ride on the merry-go-round of fitness. We work like crazy, get in ridiculously great shape for a wedding, class reunion, or summer vacation. We feel amazing! We look amazing! Then we inexplicably veg out--put back on all the weight and/or fat that we have worked so diligently to get rid of. We tell ourselves that we have earned it, only to subsequently stress over how we are going to get back into amazing shape for our next big event. 

With work and family, who has the time, or the energy to pile on any extra stress? Here are three ways to stick to your workout program and look great year round, while keeping stress levels more manageable.

1. Cheat wisely. This refers to compliance to your dietary program. According to Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition, "100% nutritional discipline is never required for optimal progress. The difference, in results, between 90% adherence to your nutrition program and 100% adherence is negligible."

"So you can allow yourself “10% foods” – foods that break rules, but which you’ll allow yourself to eat (or drink, if it’s a beverage) 10% of the time. Just make sure you do the math and determine what 10% of the time really means. For example, if you’re eating 6 meals per day for 7 days of the week – that’s 42 meals. 10% of 42 is about 4. Therefore you’re allowed to “break the rules” on about 4 meals each week."

2. Buddy up. I once heard a colleague say that your level of health and fitness can be predicted by taking the average exercise and nutrition habits of the five people that you spend the most of your time with. If you are trying to get to a higher level of fitness, then work out with and hang out with people the next level up, and who will challenge you. 

In the real world, if you desire to become a high level executive at your company, you are not seeking out career advice from your interns. You want someone who has been there to help you do the same. This strategy also applies with your fitness. You will learn strategies and tips to increase your fitness, but more importantly you will learn to live the lifestyle of those who are at a higher level of fitness.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize. This is arguably the most important, and perhaps the most difficult, one to follow. To succeed you need to be reminded everyday of what is important to helping you reach your fitness goals. If you are looking to lose weight, or get back into a dress or pants that you could wear in high school or college, then take pictures that represent your goals. Put one in front of your refrigerator, one in front of your cabinets, one on your bedroom door, and one on the door leading out of your house. This way you are constantly reinforcing what the priority is. 

Think about this when you are out, or considering food or drink options. Is that second or third mimosa worth it? Extra slice of pizza? That extra dessert?

By following these three 'rules', you will be at a higher baseline level of fitness year round and always ready for the special occasions in your life. 

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