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I have been training clients for 15 years and, although I'm still a 'baby' compared to some older trainers, I have seen enough people to notice the difference between those who are able to get in shape, lose the weight and keep it off compared to those who don't. I've boiled it down to ten key tips you can use to make sure you achieve LASTING fitness rather than yo-yo results that ultimately go nowhere.
1. You have a specific plan. It's not enough to say, 'I will try to avoid carbs' or 'I will try to go downstairs (or to the gym) and work out more.' Know exactly what changes you are making, otherwise it simply won't happen.
2. Make sure others know of your plan. The social pressure will help when you are feeling weak. The more people who know, the better. If your kids know, even better. They for sure won't let you forget what you said you'd do.
3. Be flexible if necessary. So often I work with someone who will be on track for three or so weeks, and then something comes up that throws them off plan. They get so stressed that they have not been 'perfect' that the can the whole thing. Rational? No. Are humans rational by nature? Not really. Realize you will be upset but don't let it ruin all you've worked for.
4. Expect that your plan will have to change. Sometimes your running three times a week will come to a grinding halt due to an untimely injury. You're going to have to figure out what to do instead. Deal with it! No using that as an excuse to wait until you can run again.
5. Expect you'll get sick, your fish will die, or your parents will visit. All of these things could throw you off physically and/or emotionally. Anyone can follow a fitness plan when life if perfect. Learning to deal when life isn't perfect is the key to lasting success.
6. Don't become married to your plan just because it's working. The body thrives on change, and even if you have a great food and exercise plan, they body adapts and gets used to it. The mind also gets bored, so be sure to change things up. If you need help, that's what the trainer is for!
7. Drink your water--at least 1/2 oz per pound you weigh, and more if you sweat a lot. This is the number one thing, more than any food or exercise, that I see in common for people who succeed. Without enough water, other changes might not even have much of an effect.
8. Start your day with whatever 'flavor' you tend to crave the most. If you have a sweet tooth, a sweet protein shake or large serving of fruit are a good idea. If you tend to crave salt, have some eggs and a slice or two of bacon. By 'pre-empting' cravings you will be more in control all day. This really works.
9. Have some sort of low or no calorie 'treat' you can turn to if needed. Herbal tea, coffee with little to no sugar, mints, or a bit of dark chocolate all might help. Look forward to these items just like you used to look forward to the junk. You will adapt to seeing these items as your 'treat.' Likewise, find meals and snacks you truly enjoy that are good for you. These also can be your new 'treat.'
10. Figure out what you are really 'craving.' Sometimes it's not really food we are after, but a 'state change.' Is your life missing meaning, fun, intimacy, satisfaction in general? All the food in the world won't replace these things, but our brains sometimes look to food when other things are missing. Fix the real problem.
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