Guest Author: Travis Ronaldson (Strength & Conditioning Coach)
Spring is upon us and the warmer weather is just around the corner. This means that a lot of people will emerge from their winter exercise hibernation and comfort food and start thinking about focusing on their health again. While gaining a couple of kilograms over winter is nothing unusual, being able to shed them again can be a real challenge. But if you don’t, and you gain a couple every winter, you can see how your weight can creep up quite dramatically in only a couple of years. So in a three part series we are going to touch on all of the things that you should be doing to get your health back on track. In this first part of the series we are going to look at all // of the little things you need to be doing which will make exercising and eating healthy easier. In part two we will look at some basic nutrition plans and in part three we will look at formulating an exercise program to improve your fitness.
So to start with we need to identify some goals. Not just big goals, but also smaller goals along the way. There is no point saying you want to lose 6kg by Christmas, and then wait until Christmas day to jump on the scales. So what we need to do is identify what our big goals are, and then break them into smaller monthly and even weekly goals to ensure you remain on track, and are making achievements along the way. Let’s say you had a goal for significant weight loss by Christmas, and then you broke that up into smaller weight loss targets by the start of October, November and December respectively. This is step one: identify goals, and then attach a timeline to them, breaking them up into smaller goals.
Having weight loss as a goal may sound quite simple, but as you eat healthy and exercise changes occur within your body that may see you lose quite a lot of fat, but also gain a little bit of muscle, meaning that your weight won’t change a great deal on the scales, but you will be substantially healthier. With this in mind it is a good idea to set a body composition goal such as body fat percentage, and also some fitness goals, such as running 3km in under 18 minutes, or performing 20 push ups, or a 2 minute plank. Having some fitness goals will give you something to strive for, and as you work to achieve your fitness goals your body composition goals and weight loss will take care of itself. Step two: set not only body composition and weight loss goals, but also fitness goals. Maybe a cardio goal (such as running, cycling, rowing), a strength goal (25 push ups, squatting 60kg for 10 reps with perfect form) and a core strength goal (plank for time). Working towards something such as a fun run or exercise event is also great.
Now that we have our goals and timelines, we must ensure that they are measurable. So goals such as running 3km in 18 minutes is certainly measurable, but something vague like “get fit” is not. Make them measurable so that you can track your progress. Then test yourself before you commence your program, such as timing how long it takes to run 3km, and then record it. Then decide to test yourself maybe once every four or six weeks to track your progress. This will keep you focused and able to measure your progress. Step three: ensure your goals are measurable, test yourself before you commence your program, and test yourself regularly to assess whether you are on track.
So now we have our goals in place and we are getting ready to organise our nutrition and exercise plan. There are a couple of things we need to be aware of first:
1. Our sleep habits. If you are not getting enough sleep not only will you be tired, but your mental resolve will also be weaker and you will be more likely to skip an exercise session or eat something you shouldn’t. I know we all have commitments and families and things that potentially can disrupt our sleep, but as much as possible you need to commit to a bed time and get up at a similar time each day. Aim for eight hours. Sleep is so important as it allows our body and brain to rejuvenate and repair itself for tomorrow.
2. You will need to be organised with your time. Get a diary. You will need to schedule in your exercise just as you would a meeting, and commit to it. You will also need to be organised with food preparation, but more on that in part two.
3. You will need to make a commitment. So often do people start the same nutrition or exercise program just to stop it in a couple of weeks and put back on the same weight that they lost. Commit to improving yourself and your health because you will enjoy rich rewards. As the saying goes, everyone has the intention of eating great tomorrow, but what counts is what you ate yesterday.
So that concludes part one of our spring journey to better health. Let us know what you think and stay tuned for part two, our nutrition plan.
To find out more about Travis please visit his Facebook page at travisronaldson.com.au