"No pain, no gain."
Whoever came up with this horrific adage deserves to be punched square in their six-pack, oiled up gut. Unless you are a masochist, this expression often causes anyone inspired to adapt a fitness routine to commence exercise by running for the hills, choking down Krispy Kremes along the way.
For starters, living well should never entail pain – unless you are undergoing a gastric bypass. Perhaps this is why so many abandon their New Year's resolution of achieving physical wellness. If committing to a healthy lifestyle is something you desperately want, yet adherence is something you struggle with, here are three simple, manageable solutions that can help.
Write it down. Create a mission statement with examples of how you intend to implement fitness and a balanced diet into your daily routine. As with any project that requires time and dedication, a guide is essential to outline what goals you would like to achieve. This first step is unequivocally the most intricate and essential to be successful in achieving your goal. It warrants proper time and consideration. Setting goals that are too vague or unreasonable to your lifestyle will ultimately lead to frustration, disappointment and may even cause you to quit.
Goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Time-Bound). Example of S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
"I would like to lose 10lbs. by the summer, so I can fit into my new swimsuit."
"I will work with a trainer three times a week, and walk my dog an extra twenty minutes each night."
"I know that I struggle with picking on treats while I watch TV after work, so I will replace the candy with a healthier option."
A healthy and realistic weekly weight loss goal is one to two pounds per week. There is no express lane to obtaining your ideal weight. Crazy diets and extreme exercise routines may work initially, but ultimately exhaust your body, and spirit causing you to begin the whole process again.
Another great tip is utilizing the support of family, friends and coworkers. You're quarterbacking your life now, and every great player needs cheerleaders, encouraging them along the way. It will increase your self-efficacy, adherence, and will create an overall positive environment for you to thrive.
(Warning: Everyone has that one friend, which I refer to as the "Energy Vampire," who will suck the good mojo right from your blood and leave you feeling discouraged and downright pessimistic! This is a surefire way to get sidetracked from your objective. The key to success is to surround yourself with supportive people, and not those who want to see you fail. However, it may not always be feasible to remove the "nothing-goes-right," Rodney Dangerfields from our life. If a spouse or those in your household are not on board for your new voyage, then it is essential to enroll their allegiance.)
This can also create the opportunity to enlist a spouse or loved one, as a workout buddy. Not only will it feel extremely rewarding to know you're contributing to a happier, healthier and overall more fulfilling life for your loved ones, it further strengthens your relationship by uniting your efforts toward a common goal.
Finally, decide what environment promotes your inner Superman. After an arduous day at the office, it's important to find your oasis. Set aside time to research a gym or studio that fits your specific needs. In other words, if waiting for Lance Armstrong to finish up on the bike, or having to turn your iPod up to a deafening decibel to drown out the grunts of Pauly Pushups tests your patience, then a private studio may be better suited for you.
Gyms and exercise routines are not one-size-fits-all. Find an environment where you can escape from the stresses of your day. Doing so will increase your enthusiasm, work ethic and positively affect your adherence to your program.
The same principle applies for finding a suitable personal trainer. Not everyone responds well to an ex-Navy Seal drill sergeant shouting orders in your face, while you try not to focus on the vein protruding from his forehead. As with any thriving relationship, there must be compatibility based on a solid rapport. One-on-one sessions can be very educational, rewarding and more so provide that kick in the pants we all need from time-to-time. An insider note: follow step two and seek a workout buddy. If training sessions are too costly for your budget, most gyms and trainers will have reduced rates for group training sessions.
Exhale. It's a new year–a time for a fresh start and a bright future! Toss the "No Pain, No Gain" fallacy in the trash, along with that ugly Christmas sweater.
Ashley Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer, wellness coach and aspiring journalist living in Voorhees, N.J.