Most guys have at one point or another, fallen prey to the idea that when it comes to the gym, bigger is better. Bigger muscles, bigger weights, bigger results. And who can blame us? With every magazine in the sports section sporting (pun intended) pictures of muscle bound men with the captions “take your garden snake arms and turn them into pythons in just three weeks”, it’s hard to imagine anything less as being adequate. So we hit the gym, find the biggest dumbbell we can find, and start curling away. But what are we really accomplishing? Here are some things to think about when going after that ideal “summer bod”.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
First off, if you wait until May to start working out and eating right hoping to be bathing suit ready for June, you are going to be sorely disappointed. In order to safely make any drastic changes to your body regardless of the starting condition you need to move slowly. Set long term goals for yourself and allow yourself time to ease into a diet and exercising routine. Most people do not have the willpower to wake up one day, pour out all the soda in the fridge and start working out five days a week. Here are some simple steps to help you get started.
- Bigger Lunch, smaller dinner
- Don’t replace “junk food” and Soda once it’s gone
- Set aside a specific time daily for your workouts
- Short term, reasonable goals. i.e: Run a mile without walking, run two miles without walking, etc.
Easing into a healthy lifestyle can be much less daunting and more satisfying to some, and reaching our short term goals gives us a sense of accomplishment and pride in our work, and who doesn’t like feeling accomplished?
Find a workout routine that suits you
It sounds simple, but look at the routine and ask yourself, is this reasonable for me? Maybe the end result is the one you are after, but remember…marathon, not sprint. Start with something that will push you, but that you can accomplish and progress through in order to keep from getting discouraged. Also the accountability of a scheduled routine makes it a little easier to push yourself to the gym on those days you may or may not be “feeling it”.
Track your progress
This is going to sound super cheesy, but before you get started grab that camera, head to your bedroom when no one else is around and snap a quick “before” photo in the mirror. You live with yourself, all day every day and the changes that you make in the gym are going to be small, slow, and unnoticeable to you. But they ARE going to happen. Update your photo about once every six to eight weeks to see the changes your making and stay motivated. Don’t be shy or embarrassed, no one has to see this but you. Staying motivated and excited about the next step is whats going to get you to the gym on those days when you’d much rather just sit at home. Also go out and buy a .50 cent notebook to track repetitions of exercises done, and weight lifted so the next week you can aim for one more rep, or five more pounds.
Eat to sustain
As you start to exercise you are going to find that your body is going to need more food, and better quality meals to keep your energy up. Listen to your body, you will start to drink more water, eat healthier, and feel better all around. If you aren’t sure what foods to eat, grab a cook book and learn! Remember it’s a process and will not happen over night. Slow and steady wins the race.
You are your only competition
There is only one person you should be competing with in the gym, and that is yourself. I’m sure there is a guy that is bench pressing five hundred pounds, but that’s his business. If you go to the gym to compare yourself to other people you won’t last the month. As long as you are making steady improvements, it doesn’t matter how small they are, you are succeeding.
With all of this in mind, you can (incoming pun) lift yourself up to new heights in the gym, stay motivated, and stay on course to that summer body you want every year. Getting started is the hardest part, it is much easier to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle than it is to get there in the first place. Keep working hard, keep those pictures updated, and remember to stay strong, stay healthy, stay happy.