Nowadays it is not uncommon to find novices, and beginners of all ages starting their fitness pursuits with a great deal of education. For the first time in all of human history, the World Wide Web has provided a luxury our grandfathers could have only dreamed of. Information. Knowledge. Resources. When utilized, these are the tools that help make us capable of truly anything we desire. The Internet has closed the information gap… it has been the great equalizer for millions all over the world. However, more information can sometimes bring more confusion. How do you know what works and what doesn’t?! The answer is TRY it, or talk to someone you trust who’s already been down the path you’re looking to walk.
Over the past several years, I’ve done plenty of the searching, trying, and asking. Through it all, I’ve finally found what I call, ‘My rapid-fire tips to help you achieve your fitness life goals this year’. Let’s get started, shall we…
1) Find a coach/mentor – Look for someone who’s already done it. No matter what you’re pursuing, your chances of achieving it with increase dramatically with an experienced advisor in your corner.
2) Plan ahead (carry food with you) – Most people are unwilling to make this ‘sacrifice’, and put forth the extra effort it takes to plan. The thing is, it really doesn’t take much. Just get started, and make sure you have some quality food with you so you’re not skipping meals (and slowing your metabolism).
3) Drink more water (don’t drink calories) – I’ve always remembered this quote “Nothing is more anabolic than a well-hydrated muscle” I believe this is true. Sufficient water consumption is the most underrated addition to your muscle building and fat loss goals in my opinion. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help curb hunger and stop sugar cravings. Ensuring your muscles are hydrated will also protect you from injury by keeping your joints healthy and lubricated… I like to carry a Nalgene ‘everyday’ reusable 1L bottle with me to class and work (Also helps save money and the Earth ☺)
4) Supplement with Psyllium seed husk – If I could recommend one supplement you may not have heard of, this would be it. The way we feel is greatly influenced by what’s going on with our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Psyllium seed husk is a partially fermented fiber supplement that promotes intestinal health, regularity, lowers cholesterol, and prevents various cancers associated with the GI tract. If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, you may not be getting enough fiber in your diet as it is. Adding twelve grams a day to your shakes and smoothies is an excellent way to ensure you’re consuming enough fiber for healthy digestion and elimination.
5) Grab some Stevia (limit/cut out added sugar) – Stevia leaf powder is another excellent addition to your supplement drawer. This sweetener is a herb that tastes great on oatmeal, in coffee, smoothies, protein shakes (w/cinnamon), and anywhere you’d normally use sugar. If you like sweet foods, you can potentially save hundreds of empty calories per week.
6) Turn off the TV (watch TED Talks) – This Christmas I finally had some down time to take a load off and do ‘nothing’ for a change. I decided to turn on the television to see what I’ve been missing. Turns out, I wasn’t missing much because nowadays, ‘TV is nothing but an income and potential sucker”. I have to agree on this one. Unless there’s something specific you have to catch, I recommend you do all you can to cut out as much television as possible. When I turned it off, I instantly thought about all the positive, constructive things I could have done with my time. A few years ago, I discovered these short videos where brilliant people would share their ideas at a conference of all the best minds in their respective fields. “TED talks” on TED.com are an excellent alternative to the tube. If you want, try and watch at least one new talk every day… they’re short, and you’ll learn something interesting and valuable.
7) Change positions (…not what you think!) – I mean, if you spend a lot of time in front of the computer, at a desk, or doing a lot of sedentary work… hear this: You can increase your focus through movement, and keep your back healthy by increasing the diffusion of nutrients into the vertebral discs. In other words, it can be said that decreased physical activity is directly proportional to back pain. Get up, get your blood flowing every twenty-five minutes or so to refresh your body and mind.
8) Make nutrition easy, and your exercises hard – The most drastic changes I’ve seen in people usually comes from changes in their diet. This is the main component you want to control in your quest to building a better body. However, taking control of your nutrition habits does not have to be difficult. Choose which food sources you like best, and plan your meals ahead of time in order to reach your specific goals. But what about training…? Of course, we know doing serious work in the gym is critical if you you’re expecting to see any progress. I’ve always found that the harder you can make an exercise, the greater overall effect it will have on your physique. For instance, instead of doing your shoulder presses sitting on a machine… stand up and grab a barbell. This will immediately involve new muscle groups by simultaneously forcing you to maintain your balance during the entire movement. Greater efficiency, effectiveness, and growth… what more could you ask for?!
9) Set realistic, short-term goals – Too many people quickly get discouraged on their road to improvement. Most of the time, this is because they’re not seeing immediate changes. The key is to be persistent, and patient. A great way to ensure you’re successful, while keeping your motivation high is to set small goals along the way towards your ‘ultimate vision’. Eventually, doing the right things one day at a time will produce amazing results you can truly be proud of.
10) Stand guard at the door of your mind – There have been countless successful people who’ve written books, recorded audiotapes, and put out videos you can utilize and apply in your own life. Spend your free time listening, reading, and searching for the resources that can empower you. Luckily you usually have a choice, it’s all up to you. Make sure you spend most of your time absorbing materials that can bring new ideas and move you forward.
11) Push yourself to the max – When you challenge yourself, then succeed-- you create a new set of positive references; your confidence goes up, you learn what you’re capable of, and other difficult tasks of the past become very possible. You can tap into these empowering references any time you want simply by deciding to. The more you force yourself to step outside your comfort zone, the greater your potential for growth and improvement will be. You only have one life, so challenge yourself and go for what you want no matter what anyone else says.
12) Be grateful – Here (in America) most of us take a lot for granted. The fact that we even have the ability to pursue our fitness aspirations is amazing. The ability to build and sculpt your body and mind is a huge privilege we share. When you consider the fact that three billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, we gym goers have it pretty darn good. Start your day thinking of a few things you’re grateful for. Only then can you really tap into your potential and have a fulfilling year.
Conclusion: Through all the searching and trying, I’ve found several great benefits from implementing these ‘top tips’. The Internet is a powerful resource… use the information that’s been proven to work… but also makes sense to you.
Remember, success is simply doing little things the right way, one day at a time!
Written by - Connor LaVallie