Most people kick off the new year with a New Year’s resolution or two. You know the kind – “I need to start working out again and lose 10 pounds” or “I’m going to stop smoking… for real this time!” Generally speaking, these well intentioned resolutions are doomed to failure by mid February. But why is this so?
First of all I think we must really get ourselves excited about our new resolutions. We need to have not only a resolution… but a revolution! Yes, a revolution of the mind and body where we toss out the old habits and usher in the new ideas and actions with real purpose, resolve, and zeal! I know what you are thinking… this guy sounds like a nutty cheerleader and he actually said the word “zeal”! Well I may be a bit nutty but I’m on your side and I want to be a cheerleader for you! (Plus, I think the word “zeal” sounds pretty cool. I think I’ll use it more often.)
In order to turn our New Year’s resolution into a New Year’s revolution we must understand a few basic realities. Since this is a fitness and bodybuilding website we will confine our “revolution” to this area. However, all of the principles described here can be adapted to any area of life that your choose.
First you must have a goal
Start with a more easily achievable short term goal such as, I will start an exercise routine for 3 days a week and for 30 minutes each session. The idea will be to improve my fitness and generally tone my body. This is a reasonable program that will ease you into an exercise routine and will not overtax your system. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to overwhelm themselves with a goal that is unrealistic and too difficult to continue with. It is a fact that the mind has a tendency to go toward pleasure and to run away from pain. Keep your short term goal simple and remember that unrealistic goals will only set you up for failure in the long haul.
Now that you have a reasonable short term goal established, you need to develop a long term goal. The long term goal should be an extension of your short term goal. An example would be to kick up the intensity of your exercise program after 3 months and train 4 days a week and for one hour each session. Tell yourself that you will lose 20 pounds of bodyfat or maybe gain 10 pounds of muscle during this next 3 month period. Make this long term goal more challenging but definitely something that is doable and not overly ambitious such as saying that you will compete in a bodybuilding contest after only 6 months of training!
A Plan of Action
Now that you have your short term and long term goals set, you need a well thought out plan of action. This is where you will write down exactly how you will proceed with your new exercise program, such as what exercises you will do, or how many reps and sets, what improvements you need to make in your diet, what food supplements you will need, etc. You can always amend or make changes to your plan as time goes on, just remember to write it down. Putting your plan in writing forces you to commit and makes it less tentative. You are actually writing a contract with yourself and the more detailed it is the better. Without a plan you are like a ship adrift at sea with no direction. Think of yourself jumping into your car to take a ride with no particular place to go or no firm destination in mind. The ride might have been nice but you really went nowhere and accomplished nothing. Remember that people tend to move in the direction of their dominant thoughts. By writing your plan down and reviewing it daily you will be placing it in the front of your thought process all the while affirming to your subconscious mind that this is the correct thing to do. Eventually your body will produce what your mind believes.
Tell Others What You Are Going To Do
It’s easy to let yourself down because you have no one to answer to except yourself. By telling your friends about your new goals and plan of action, you are committing to the world and are more likely to succeed because you don’t want to look foolish to your friends by not carrying out your plan. You are setting yourself up to succeed and hopefully your friends will help the cause by offering their encouragement and zeal (I said it again!)
Let’s Talk About Homeostasis
What the heck is homeostasis and what does it have to do with your new goals or life changes? Homeostasis is a scientific term meaning that your body is always adjusting itself in order to be in a state of equilibrium or balance. Essentially your body likes to stay the same and this is a throwback to our caveman origins when famine and droughts caused havoc to our very existence. The human body actually adapted to these conditions by adjusting our metabolism and body chemistry so that we could live through periods of little food and water. When food and water were once again plentiful we would store fat and build muscle in anticipation of another period of food scarcity. The smaller we were the easier it was for the body to stay the same and keep this self-preservation mechanism going. It was easier for mother nature to keep a small person alive than a large person because they required less food. Over time our human genetics developed so that we had a tendency to stay small for survival purposes. Modern man has, over many thousands of years, grown larger than his caveman cousins mainly because food supplies have improved to the point where starvation is not a constant threat.
So what does all this caveman stuff mean to us modern day muscle and fitness zealots (a form of zeal!)? Simply that even though thousands of years separate us from our caveman ancestors we still carry the genes that want us to stay small though they differ from one person to the next. After a certain point our body stops growing and it naturally tries to stay the same keeping a balance or what science calls a homeostatic state.
As muscle builders this can be a hindrance but it definitely can’t stop us from our muscle and fitness goals. By realizing and understanding that the body doesn’t like to change we can overcome this problem by fooling our bodies by slowly and gently nudging it with our new exercise and diet program. Your body will respond by letting you know that it doesn’t like this new change. Your muscles will be sore and you might not see any progress at first because your body is struggling to stay the same. Eventually your body will give in and start to accept and even like your new fitness lifestyle. So, what’s not to like? After all, your strength will improve, bodyfat will decrease, muscles will grow, heart rate and blood pressure will normalize, and you’ll sleep better and have more energy. A body could get used to all this good stuff.
Keep a Training Log
A training log will show you where you came from and will let you know where you are headed. Keep track of your exercises, sets, reps, poundages, diet, sleep habits, how you felt after training, body weight, measurements, and any other relevant information. By tracking this information you can tell at a glance where you stand in reaching your goal. It may take a few extra minutes of time but in the long run it will be well worth the effort.
Your new fitness and bodybuilding routine will take perseverance and a stick-to-it attitude but now that you know the proper steps to take and the concept of homeostasis I know that you can be successful with your new goals.
Hold it. I think there’s someone in the back row waving their hand. What’s this you’re saying? You are having trouble formulating a plan of action because you don’t know enough about exercise and nutrition? If I may be so bold I would like to recommend to you one of the best and most complete fitness and bodybuilding programs I know (I may be somewhat prejudiced because I wrote it!). It’s called The FitnessSource1.com Guide to Fitness and Bodybuilding – Your First Year and for the price of a meal at a good restaurant you will be taken by the hand and guided slowly but surely from beginner to intermediate and on to advanced training. This program is based on how to overcome our old foe homeostasis by tilting the laws of equilibrium to your advantage so that your fitness and bodybuilding goals will become a reality. Along with this 200 page e-book you will receive a Free Bonus 100 page e-book called, The USDA Guide to the Nutritive Value of Foods showing protein, carbs, fats, fiber, cholesterol, vitamins, minerals, etc. for over 1,200 foods. A real help in planning your healthy meals. The entire program costs only $24.95 and provides a year’s worth and beyond of training programs and nutrition information, plus motivational hints, enthusiasm, and zeal! (Sorry, it was my last chance to say it!) Don’t waste any more time and start your New Year’s fitness and bodybuilding revolution now!