By: Brian Attebery
It is December and if most of you have not started getting serious for the New Years push towards a better you then I bet you are getting geared up for it. Yes, the gyms will be busy and the commercials are will be going strong for diets and the next fad machine that will make you skinny. When it comes to joining the gym, I have had a lot of people let me know that their friend or relative is “thinking about it.” Some have let me know that their friend or relative is going to lose weight first. I like to say to them that I do not try to fix my car myself before I take it to the mechanic, or clean the house before the maid comes, or study law before I hire an attorney. The same analogy can apply for fitness and health. Let the expert help you cut to the chase. Let’s explore some other pointers to consider.
The first thing has to be your mindset. Why is January so busy? It is simply a mindset change. It is a new year and a new you. It is time for a fresh start in many aspects for many people. That is great but we have to have a plan. The first thing to understand is diets do not work. You must make lifestyle changes to your nutrition. That is a broad explanation but understand that this column is not intended to diagnose individuals across a broad spectrum. It is intended to give you general information and motivate you to seek the proper instruction so you can apply it to your own needs and lifestyle. If you simply starve your body or cut entire food groups out (junk food excluded) then you will not have long term success. Sure, you might drop 20 pounds but if 8 of those pounds are muscle then you will slow your metabolism down and gain it all back plus more by the end of the year. That is why we must work out and try to build or at minimum maintain muscle tissue to keep our engines running at full horse power. Stronger body equals a stronger metabolism which equates to more calories burned at rest. The exercise is of HUGE importance for long term success in true fat loss. Notice I said fat loss not weight loss? When you gain muscle then you might not lose as much actual weight. Let the mirror and your clothes do the talking, not the scale. That is not to say that weight does not mean anything, it just does not mean everything.
The program should be designed to gradually push you as you get into better shape. Avoid programs that are one size fits all. If you are questioning the safety of a program then chances are it might not be safe. I have heard of programs where Trainers are having participants pushing cars and carrying people on their backs for distances. That is not only dangerous for the clients but a liability for the trainers in my opinion. You must weigh the benefits versus risks for exercise and ask yourself if this is something applicable for long term progress and more importantly maintenance of weight loss and physical fitness. Many programs that involve ballistic movements for the average Joe are not recommended either. There are too many injuries that could occur for the average out of shape person starting off on a new program. Plyometric jumping exercises are for athletes not for a middle age person trying to lose 40 pounds.
I also do not like it when trainers make broad recommendations of using all free weight or all machine weights. You should use a variety of machines, free weights, rubber tubes, physio-balls, and your own body weight for your program design. Programs should work your muscles different ways, angles, repetitions, and weights. The human body is great at adaptation and we must try our best to keep it from doing that.
Find a facility that has properly educated trainers that truly care. Did you know that there are not any laws for trainers to have a formal education? No degrees or certifications are required by law so you must see if it is their policy to require that. You only have one body and want to make a good investment by choosing the right person and facility. Ask for references if you doubt their background. They might look good but that means very little. They might eat cheeseburgers and perform very little exercise on a daily basis because they are 19 years old. How much physiology training could they have and how do they relate to you as an individual? Write your goals down and bring them in when you start your program so that you can be on the same page as the instructor and keep them realistic. You are going to fall off the wagon if you are like most people. Just get back on and do not quit. So what if you miss here and there. It happens to the best of us. Just stay strong and next January you will be the one bringing your friends and family in to start their new year and new you.
(Brian Attebery Owns and Operates Results Fitness & Nutrition Center in Edmond. He has a B.S. In Health and Sport Sciences from O.U. and is Certified. Voted Edmond’s Favorite Fitness Center www.resultsfitnessusa.com)