The Quickest Way To Get In Shape
What a topic right? It’s at the top of a lot of people’s list – the quickest way to get in shape. It’s an age old question, one that has so many people looking for a magic pill. Or the reason why the big box gym industry makes much of it’s money in the first 2 months of the year. Or the big reason why the gym at my work goes from empty in December to stupid full in January and tapers off in February so that by the time March rolls around I know it’s just me and my work out husband. It’s okay, he knows I call him that. But the end result is we are happy to have our gym back mostly to ourselves. Other people’s short term commitment to getting in shape actually benefits me. The gym at work is only busy for about the first 6 weeks of. the year. The other 46 weeks are nice and quiet for the most part. Let’s talk about the quickest way to get in shape.
The fitness and health club industry is over $27 billion in the US. Gym owners only expect about 20% of people who buy memberships to use them consistently. In 2012 80% of people who joined a gym quite within the first 5 months. The 2nd week of January is almost always the busiest week in a gym. Some studies have shown almost 75% of all gym memberships are taken out in January. That’s insane!! So if you decide you want to get in shape, let’s discuss a few tools and tips that will make the biggest impact first. Given the depressing statistics we just reviewed, let’s also see how we can build this into a long term habit. What are some of the quickest ways to get in shape.
Make A Plan
Okay I get accused of going overboard here but I think making a plan will always benefit you when you are making a change of some sort. First and foremost decide what you want to accomplish, then figure out how you are going to get there. Losing 10 pounds in 2 months will look a lot different than getting 20% stronger and working to gain 10 pounds of muscle in 3 months. So write down what your goal is and then make a plan for how you are going to get there. Something I can’t stress enough – make it a realistic goal. Start smaller and then build on that, especially with fitness. You can’t go from zero to sixty in a month. Start by clarifying one goal for yourself and then once you achieve that, make a new goal and work towards that. I have been a fitness guy for 30 years and I STILL change up my workouts 4 times a year. Keeps my muscles guessing and honestly, I still make gains in different areas – bigger shoulders, more defined abs, dropping body fat, improving my squat weight, etc. It’s important to mix it up. Plus it keeps things interesting and new.
Pick Something You Like
You will greatly increase your chances of sticking with a new program if you pick something you like. I personally like to lift weights and hate to run. It’s just how I’m built. I think certain peoples bodies are built for running and others aren’t. Mine isn’t. I can’t really tell you a why, it’s just that I have never liked running when I’ve tried it and it doesn’t make me feel good. It just hurts. I do ride a stationary bike 5-6 mornings a week right after I wake up. It’s my version of cardio and it helps me get going for my day. I then life weights 4-5 times a week, usually by focusing on 2-3 body parts per work out session. Again, my favorite thing to do is to to lift weights, I look forward to it. I don’t always want to do it but it’s my favorite exercise to do. In my opinion its the best overall exercise you can do for your body. I thinks really about being healthy and fit, not a certain body fat percentage or being able to see your abs. It’s about healthy.
If you like to lift weights, do that. If you like to ride a bike, do that. If you like playing basketball and running, do that. Do whatever makes you happy, it will greatly increase your odds of sticking with it. If you don’t like to do any exercise, then start by walking 3X a week for 30 minutes a pop. Start slow, then increase or add to it as you start to get into it.
I’ve read in more than a few places that the greatest impact to changing your body and getting in better shape is your diet. In fact some bodybuilders will tell you in the grand scheme of things they feel their diet is 60% plus part of the equation. If they figure out the best combinations of food for their situation and what they are trying to achieve it impacts their success greater than the amount of weight they lift. You have got to include your eating habits as part of getting in shape. By combining it with whatever exercise you pick at first it will greatly impact how fast your body reacts and will help you get in shape a lot quicker. Again, you don’t need to go from zero to sixty here, just like the exercising. If you are in the planning stages and you would rate your current diet a 1 on a scale of 1-10 then try to change it to a 3 for the first month. Then a 5 in the second month and a 7 in the 3rd month. And where ever you land as an ongoing way of eating that works best for you and is good for your body, then stop there.
Some people at work think I am super strict in my diet. This is mostly because when they see me bringing my lunch is usually something like a massive salad loaded with chicken. Or steak cut into strips alongside sweet peppers and a fruit. Basically protein, veggies, and fruit with rarely a carb in sight. But this is just what they see. The truth is I eat very well at breakfast and lunch during the week because I meal prep for that. Dinner is with the family so I just go with the flow here. Weekends I still usually eat pretty well but I eat out a few times and drink some beers. So I don’t worry about it as much. And guess what? It works for me and what I am working on achieving physically. You do what works for you. Here is my favorite breakfast frittata – has ground turkey, spinach, sweet peppers, eggs and a little bit of cheese.
I’m not talking about buying yourself a new car if you make it to the gym 3X in a month and eat 2 salads. I’m talking about rewarding yourself for hitting certain goals of yours. So if you are shooting for losing 10 pounds, buy yourself a pair of new shoes or make your spouse take you out for a celebratory dinner to celebrate. And then get back on the bandwagon. But the point here is that it’s important to set goals and to do a little bit of celebrating when you hit those goals. Then set a new goal and go achieve that.
Keep On Keeping On
You ever heard that quote that 1/2 of success is just showing up? I don’t know if that’s the right quote but it’s close enough. Point is be consistent. Go do your work out even if you don’t feel like it. Chances are the workout will be 1/2 way decent anyway and mentally you will feel a lot better simply by doing it. It’s like “hey, I didn’t want to work out because I was hungover but I did it anyway and not only is my hangover almost gone but I feel good about myself for pushing through and doing it”. That’s what I am talking about. So stick with it and show up.
Remember it’s the consistently of doing something over and over that leads to results. You won’t see any changes in a week. You might not start to see any difference for a month. You have to trust the process and just keep plugging away. The changes will come but you must stay on track and do both your exercising and better eating on a consistent basis.
Wrap Up And Tools
So if I was going to sum up this post in once concise sentence it would be this:
The quickest way to start to get in shape is to pick an exercise you like, make a few conscientious changes to improve your diet, and do both of these things on a consistent basis for a few months. These 3 things – one exercise activity you like, change your diet making it a little bit better, and do both of these things for 2 months, and you will quickly lay the ground work to get in shape. After you have done these for a few months, then regroup with you planning and make some changes for the next step. BOOM! You got this. Here’s a few tools that might help you:
Home Workout for Beginners – Elle Petersen – great easy to read book based on doing a workout at home, perfect for beginners.
Strength Training Bible For Men – William Smith and David Kirschen – name says it all.
Ageless Strength: Strong and Fit For a Lifetime – Jeff Horowitz – great information for middle agers like me.
Paleo For Beginners: Essentials to Get Started – John Chatham – the way to eat I personally think is great.
XMark Multi-Grip Wall Mounted Chin Up Bar XM-9025 – by XMark – for if you are getting ambitious.
Resistance Band Set: By Fitness Insanity – this is a great bundle for a low price
So make plan and let’s get going! As always I’d love to hear any ideas as well, love to learn and add to my knowledge.
All My Best,