Head Coach, GYMGUYZ
It’s that time of year again… a new year, a new you. You proudly announce on social media that you’re getting back into shape, again. You scour the internet for fad diets and overgeneralized workout plans, view numerous YouTube videos from self-proclaimed experts or dust off those old VHS tapes/DVDs of Richard Simmons or Billy Blank. You purchase and prep healthy food that a fit coworker or friend said should do the trick. If it works for them then it should work for you, right?
You resolve to lose weight, build muscle or generate more energy by signing up for yet another gym membership. You waste countless hours in traffic, fight for parking and wait patiently for equipment while others take their obligatory gym selfies. Day after day, you reluctantly deal with the loud grunts, pungent smells and constant chatter as the meat market fills up with people resolving to achieve their health and fitness goals. You silently wonder, is this really worth the monthly membership fees?
If that wasn’t enough, you’re constantly exhausted and continue to nurse your back that you injured by performing an incorrect weight bearing movement. You’re bored of doing the same exercises and eventually lose motivation as other priorities compete for your attention. You step on your scale at home, but don’t seem to be making any progress. Disenchanted, you throw in the towel and say, “I’ll do better next year.”
Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. According to www.statista.com, between 80 and 92 percent of all New Year’s resolutions fail within the first 2 months. Of those that fail, over 45 percent are fitness, diet or health related.
So, why do the 45 percent of those who start off a new year with great intentions continually fail to meet their health and fitness goals? I decided to dig a little deeper to find out why and more importantly, how we can fix this seemingly ubiquitous problem. First, let’s understand the importance and benefits of exercise on the brain and body.
The Importance & Benefits of Exercise on the Brain and Body
The benefits of a healthy diet and moderate exercise on your overall health are well documented. Exercise can decrease your resting blood pressure and heart rate, increase your energy and prolong your life. Lessor known are the psychological benefits. Countless studies conclude that regular aerobic (with oxygen) exercise for 30 minutes a day increase the size of your hippocampus, improving cognitive function, overall memory and spatial awareness.
The Effects of Exercise on the Brain
Most of us have heard of serotonin. However, most of us are unaware of its function on the human brain and body. Maybe you or a loved one have struggled with poor mood, low energy, decreased sex drive, reduced mental clarity or a host of other ailments, which are commonly associated with an imbalance of serotonin. So, what is serotonin? From a dietary viewpoint, serotonin is created by the amino acid tryptophan, this amino acid must enter the body via a food source, high amounts are found in nuts, cheese, and red meat. Low levels of tryptophan have been associated with low levels of serotonin.
Where does exercise fit in? Exercise has been shown to increase both serotonin production and release, thereby decreasing the effects of depression and other neurological issues. Studies indicate that serotonin levels are boosted immediately after and for some time post exercise. According to www.health.harvard.edu, the most effective serotonin boosting exercises are aerobic or cardio vascular endurance training like, brisk walking, cycling, circuit training, etc.
The body is at the mercy of the brain. One cannot function without the other. If the brain isn’t functioning optimally, then you can bet that neither is your body. Exercise not only improves serotonin production and cognitive function it also improves physical endurance, hunger, quality of sleep, strength, flexibility, sexual drive, and of course the way we look.
The Effects of Exercise on the Body
Exercise reduces levels of cortisol and adrenaline – both stress hormones – while also elevating endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators – reducing stress, improving sleep, sex drive and overall mental and physical health. Contrary to popular belief, the type and frequency of exercise does matter.
Cardiovascular training or aerobic (with oxygen) increases the endurance of the heart and lungs, in turn lowering the amount of work they do when resting. This effectively lowers your blood pressure helping to reduce inflammation in the arteries. Cardio training also burns calories by raising your metabolism with the added benefits of making your daily activities easier and more enjoyable.
Strength training or anaerobic (without oxygen) is glucose fueled training with the purpose of increasing the contraction force and speed of your muscles. Strength (or weight) training is key to minimizing muscle and bone loss due to ageing. Additionally, it’s a great way to cope with the stress on our body in a sedentary world.
So, what should you include in an effective exercise program? Cardiovascular training and strength training should be combined along with flexibility and nutrition to achieve an overall healthy lifestyle. The FDA recommends 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous “activity” 4-5 times per week. If your health permits, I recommend 2-4 days of cardio and 2-4 days of full body strength training a week for 45 minutes per session.
Now you understand the importance and benefits of exercise on the brain and body. But knowing this is only half the battle.
Why Most New Year’s Fitness Resolutions Fail
According to www.lifehack.com, most people fail to stick with their New Year’s resolution because they do not have a compelling reason to get fit. We often know what we want but we don’t know why we want it. For example, I was tired of feeling tired. Exercise helped me to manage stress, improve endurance and mental clarity so that I could perform better in my studies, work, and to keep up with my son. Why do you want to start a fitness and nutrition program?
On the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in Greece there is an inscription that is roughly translated, “Know Thy Self.” This Ancient Greek aphorism rings true even today. I’m not talking about these trivial facts such as your favorite color or food. In regards to health and fitness, do you know your body composition (e.g. Body Fat %, Muscle Mass %, Visceral Fat, etc.) and measurements (e.g. circumference of your bicep, chest, thigh, etc.)? Do you have S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals?
Peter Drucker, the father of modern-day business management famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” In other words, if you don’t know where you’re starting or where you’re going, how do you know if or when you’ve reached your goals. Most people hit the gym without any goals in mind or a plan of action. This is a recipe for disaster.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Getting into optimum health not only takes mental and physical fortitude, but it also requires quite a bit of research. There are some good resources mixed among the multitude of misinformation online. So, where can you find accurate information to design a customized routine for your specific needs and goals? And how do you capture and interpret your metrics so that you effectively and efficiently reach your new year’s fitness resolution? Simply stated, seek the advice of a certified fitness professional.
A certified personal trainer (CPT) will have the knowledge and experience to customize a workout program and meal plan based on your specific needs and goals. They will also be able to help you identify your goals, interpret your numbers and create a plan of action to achieve your goals in less time, with less effort and less (or no) injuries.
A caveat, not all certifications are equal. Some, like the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM CPT), are nationally recognized and require continued education and re-certification while others are not. As a National Personal Training Institute (NPTI) graduate and certified Advanced Personal Trainer, I have included some beginner resources in the references section at the bottom of this article.
Now we know some primary reasons why 45 percent of those who start off a new year with great intentions continually fail to meet their health and fitness goals. Hiring a certified fitness professional to assist you is a good start. However, you’ll have to actually do the work. Question is, how do you overcome the odds of failure to reach your fitness goals?
The Power of Habits
Have you ever woken up, stumbled in a daze to the bathroom then proceeded to brush your teeth? Did you really have to think about it? Probably not because it’s a solidified habit. So, what is a habit and how can we leverage habits to effect positive change in our lives?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines habit as “a settled tendency or manner of behavior.” This could be waking up at a certain time, hygiene practices, food choices, smoking, exercise or lack thereof, and pretty much everything else we do that makes us, us. Neuroscience has pinpointed habit making behaviors to the basal ganglia of the brain found deep within the cerebral hemispheres. Your current habits (good and bad) took a lifetime of repetition to form. Thankfully, it won’t take a lifetime to change them. The key is to understand how habits are formed and to embrace the process of change.
Charles Duhigg explains in his book ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,’ every habit is formed by a habit loop. A habit loop consists of three parts: the trigger, a routine and the reward. The trigger (or cue) is an external or internal stimulus that switches our brains into automatic mode such as grabbing your toothbrush or going into the area of your home or backyard where you smoke. The routine is the actual behavior such as brushing your teeth or smoking a cigarette. And the reward, which in this case is clean teeth or a nicotine high. Biologically, habits can be self-reinforcing or addictive.
How can you change your habits to benefit you? Charles Duhigg suggests switching your habits during a vacation. The reason this works is because you theoretically are taking yourself away from the cues that allow your habit in the first place. With that being said you don’t need to wait until a vacation, you can simply wait till a weekend or identify and change your cues or more importantly, the routine.
A New You Within Reach
In this article we covered the myriad benefits of a healthy diet and exercise routine. We’ve also learned about the primary reasons why people fail to reach their New Year’s fitness resolutions. Finally, we touched upon some solutions that can assist you in following through with those resolutions to get actual results. To recap, you’ll want to do the following:
First and foremost, you must know where you are today and where you want to go tomorrow. You can do this by taking your body measurements and writing down your fitness goals.
I recommend using the acronym S.M.A.R.T. to help with your goal setting process:
However, setting goals are not enough. You must have a clear plan on how to achieve your goals. A certified and knowledgeable trainer and nutritionist can help you to realize your health and nutrition goals in record time with less effort and injuries. I have added several links to some resources for fitness and nutrition advice you can trust at the end of this article.
Whether this is your first (or 40th) time making a health and fitness resolution, making health and fitness a habit is key to achieving your goals.
Get Fit with GYMGUYZ Coastal San Diego
GYMGUYZ Coastal San Diego can help you with a revolution of your resolution. We’re in the business of improving lives! We save you time by bringing the workouts to you, whether that be at your home, office or anywhere in your community. We deliver results by customizing your workout routines based on your specific needs and goals. And we make fitness FUN! In fact, our team of certified fitness trainers drive our signature fleet of vans with over 365 pieces of equipment. With so many options, no two workouts are the same, keeping you motivated and on track to reach your New Year’s fitness resolutions.
We offer FREE In-Home Assessment (a $110 value) on a day and time that is convenient for you. We will spend about an hour with you to provide a comprehensive nutritional, body and fitness assessment. Additionally, you’ll have an opportunity to work out with one of our certified Fitness Coaches. Finally, we will review your results and provide expert recommendations. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and have a lot of fun too!
Give us a call (619) 347-0529 to schedule your FREE In-Home Assessment today