The year is quickly coming to an end; and as all the holiday stress and celebration wind down, it’s time to look to the New Year. Have you made your plans yet?
According to a Nielson poll, the most popular New Year’s resolutions in 2015 were to “stay fit and healthy” and to “lose weight”. There are a myriad of ways to go about tackling these resolutions–whether that be joining a gym or hitting the pavement– however if you want to see results quickly and effectively, the best course of action is to hire a trainer.
Chris Tedesco, owner of BodyQuest Fitness, sat down with me to offer his advice on how to set yourself up for success in the new year.
Tip #1 – Consistency
If there is one word Chris Tedesco would wrap around success, it’s consistency. While consistency throughout the entirety of your health and fitness plan is what will get you the results you want to see, he did mention a few specifics. Consistency with your nutrition, consistency with your workouts and consistency with not beating yourself to death every day about what you did wrong yesterday.
“Focus on what you’re doing right,” Tedesco said. “The more wins you add up, the more confidence you get. Then all of a sudden when you step on the scale, that number’s changed.”
Speaking of the scale, be mindful that the number represented each and every time you step on the scale is just that, a number. Heading into the New Year, you most likely will be asked to participate in a “biggest loser” type program at work. While these are incredibly popular, they are also incredibly de-motivating because of the weigh-ins. Some people will experience losing the weight in inches while others lose more pounds. It’s important not to fixate on the number of pounds you’re losing, but rather how you’re feeling. Tedesco said the reason some will lose more pounds than others is because they are only doing cardio and dieting. So while the pounds seem to be melting off for them, they are also losing muscle mass and a lot of water in the process.
“Comparing yourself to anyone else is the absolute wrong way to approach this because everyone is so unique,” Tedesco said.
Take myself for example. I’m a 24-year-old female with a stomach issue and not a lot of weight to lose. If you take a girl who is exactly my demographic– same size, and everything else– she may not have a stomach issue, so our approach to dieting and exercising is going to be different. You wouldn’t see that our physiology is different if we stood side by side. So, me comparing myself to her is just going to set me up for failure.
“Compare yourself to your last weigh in,” Tedesco said. “When you see positive change, you need to celebrate that. It’s really important to be consistent in not comparing yourself to anybody else.”
TIP# 2 – Develop a plan based off credible information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are nearly 300,000 trainers in the United States. Obviously, the first trainer you find offering his or her services will not necessarily be the best fit.
The truth of the matter is a lot of trainers in their 20s have never had weight issues. They got into their chosen profession because they were fit and enjoyed working out. These trainers, typically referred to as “alpha trainers”, position themselves into a mindset of idolization–thinking their clients want to look like them so they need to live the lifestyle they do to look the way they do.
“They’re correct, if you actually want to be them, but that’s not what we are here for,” Tedesco said. “Those are the wrong kind of trainers for you. The right kinds of trainers are the ones that may have struggled with the same issues you’re struggling with.”
The issue with that “alpha” way of training is clear and simple– just because they enjoy working out doesn’t mean you do or that you will. The reality is that you just need to work out because physiologically, you’re going to gain weight because of genetics or a variety of other reasons. For example, I suffer from gluten intolerance. If I was working with a trainer who didn’t know what it felt like to be bloated and cramping due to the intake of gluten they wouldn’t be able to communicate with me in an effective, informative way. Because my trainer has been there and experienced these issues himself, my workouts have become more than just a workout. I’ve gained lifestyle advice that makes the day-to day living easier and more comfortable.
Another hurdle in finding a credible trainer, and one that works for you, is getting past the mindset of needing someone young. The appeal of a young trainer is their energy level. But an older trainer comes with experience. They’ve lived a life, they’ve been through that phase where they worked out all the time, then life challenged them and, like life tends to do, it got in the way. They’ve had to overcome these obstacles and get back in shape all while understanding how to balance their lifestyle, rather than make it perfect.
“You can’t hold yourself to this unrealistic expectation,” Tedesco said. “Olympic athletes that I’ve trained, all of them, never stick 100 percent to a plan. It’s about making small modifications and being consistent with them.”
These small modifications can range from portion control to getting 20 minutes of high-intensity training a day. Tedesco mentioned that those 20 minutes of high-intensity training can come from a DVD workout program, like Insanity, that you perform in your living room. You don’t have to make it into the gym everyday, but you also can’t use that as an excuse to skip out on working out. If you do miss a day, it’s okay. Don’t dwell on it. Just get back on track the next day. Tedesco advises not waiting until Monday to get back on track because “there’s no magic in Monday.”
Tip #3 – Stay motivated, but be aware of landmines
Motivation is essential to finding success in anything you are trying to accomplish. One way to motivate yourself to keep going with your health and fitness plans is setting a mantra. It’s important to pick one that inspires you and holds you accountable.
Mantras are good, but if you’re not careful or aware, they can unearth themselves as a landmine to your success. One of the biggest landmines is getting off track one day then waiting until Monday to “do it right this time”. While Tedesco believes there is no magic in Monday, he agrees that “Never miss a Monday” is a good mantra to have. However, while it helps instill consistency in your workouts, sets the intention for the week and gets you off to a good start, it can also set you up for failure. Any mantra can if you don’t have the focus and willpower to stick to it.
Taking “Never miss a Monday” as an example, say you miss Tuesday’s workout or made an unhealthy choice for dinner one night. You’ll be tempted to be lax in your efforts the rest of the week, that is, until Monday rolls back around. You don’t want to negate all the hard work put in during the beginning of the week simply because you missed a workout or blew your portions one meal.
“There is no 100% doing something right,” Tedesco said. “If you have 75 percent consistency in just your basic habits you are going to get results.”
Tedesco has a mantra of his own when it comes to building his business. He created his mantra of “TRAIN LIKE YOU FIGHT, ASSESS WHILE YOU TRAIN, CORRECT IN REAL TIME” because it encompasses everything he is trying to do. It sits at the top of the white board in his office because when other things distract him it draws his attention upward and reminds him of what he truly needs to be focused on. He knows that staying focused on his mantra is going to help him create the product he wants, but if he doesn’t have the consistency in acting upon that mantra, then he won’t.
Motivation isn’t the only component to a successful mantra. You also need focus and awareness of those landmines. Mantras don’t need to come in the form of a catchy saying. Instead it can be something like “I want to lose three inches off my waist.” If that is you’re mantra, you are going to do everything you need to do in order to lose those three inches. While you are consciously choosing your actions, your focus remains on losing those inches and not so much as the number on the scale. Or maybe the scale is your mantra. Be careful of choosing the scale as your motivator.
“Don’t be a slave to your scale,” Tedesco said. “Really research and understand what that number means–your body composition essentially.”
No matter where you find the motivation to get healthier, remember that it’s okay to fall off the wagon. It’s important to know that it’s going to be hard and you will screw it up once in a while. When that happens, it’s really all about letting go of that mistake and getting back on track the next day.
“That’s where people really screw themselves,” Tedesco said. “They have all this emotion to get started and put all this energy into making a change this year, but give up once they mess up one or two times. Eventually something is going to stick and you’ll make it a priority.”
Tip #4 – Make yourself a priority
Many people start on their fitness journeys with someone else. Working out with a friend is great for motivational purposes, but if you go this route, be aware that it is also another landmine to your success.
“Don’t be accountable to anyone else, as hard as that can be sometimes,” Tedesco said. “You’ve got to own it and it’s got to be about you.”
You can’t control anyone else’s actions. You have to have the willpower to stick to your guns and know that you are going to mess up, but that everything is going to be okay. Regardless of if you don’t have the opportunity to eat healthy because you are making food your children are going to enjoy, you need to make it a priority to set aside that food and stick to whatever your strategy may be–controlling your portions or sticking to a diet plan.
“Control the controllables,” Tedesco said. “One bad day isn’t going to screw up two weeks of progress.”
One of those controllables is your perspective. When looking at the long-term goals, it’s all about perspective. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds, you can’t approach it from the mindset of “Oh my gosh, I have 50 pounds to lose. I’m never going to get there.” Instead, focus on celebrating incremental successes. Approach it by, every couple of weeks, trying on some clothes that used to not fit, but now they do. Making that visible progress a celebration rather than staying hyper-focused on your end goal is what will help you stay on track.
“As long as you are consistent every day, you’re going to get there,” Tedesco said. “Statistically and mathematically, it’s going to happen.”
Tip #5 – Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself
Everybody always waits until the time is right to do something. Take fitness as an example. Everybody says “I’m going to wait until January to start making a change.” It is on the cover of every magazine, after all. But what it really comes down to is making a change because you don’t want to be uncomfortable anymore.
“You have to be uncomfortable to change,” Tedesco said. “If you’re uncomfortable right now, start making a change today.”
The right time is always right now. Why wait? If you wait, thinking there is still plenty of time until January, you could have been over that initial hurdle of getting started and over the soreness and all the pains that come along with that.
“I bet you are swamped in January.” Tedesco hears this statement all the time. The truth is, he isn’t. He says there isn’t much change in the number of new clients from the rest of the year. This is because people get personal trainers when they’ve come to the point of realizing they aren’t going to do it on their own.
“They are so uncomfortable that they want to make a change and know they need help,” Tedesco said. “It could be in June, January or even May. It doesn’t matter. When people get uncomfortable they know they need to start investing in themselves.”
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. Everybody needs a coach in some area of his or her life. Once you’ve learned the key to succeeding in the area you’ve sought help, and provided you are consistent in these practices, you will get better and you will see results.