Group Fitness. The things I do…

Over the past few years I found myself testing and trying various different fitness approaches, trying to figure out the things that work for me and I like.

I tried several of the activities available in my local gym including, treadmill, circuit and weights.  Found all of these rather tedious fairly quickly.  Not wanting to give up, I thought I would give group fitness a go.  This proved my bliss, so over time I have established a mix of classes that do everything for me that I need and more.

Les Mills – Body Combat

High intensity cardiovascular workout.  Get’s my heart pumping and increased my fitness to the highest level it has ever been. My resting pulse is below 50 and I feel like a man half my age.  It also combines mixed martial arts into the workout.  There is a point to doing this class that goes beyond just exercise.  Significantly more effective than a treadmill and a lot more fun.  Even when the instructor is shouting at you…

Les Mills – Body Pump

Group fitness weight class.  Using weights choreographed to rhythmic music you get a full body weight lifting workout.  Easy enough to challenge yourself if you want to.  If you find a good instructor, motivation is easy and the results are phenomenal.  I use this for muscle building.  Great substitute for any weight or circuit work that you could do, and considerably more fun.

Les Mills – CXWorx

Good solid 30 minute core work fitness class.  Focuses from the neck down to your but.  Front and back.  Though I admit this is probably not my favourite class, and most certainly I would not drive to the gym just for this class, I have seen some near instant benefit from this.  Improved core strength, balance and many other benefits especially when tacked onto another group fitness class.

Les Mills – Body Flow

I do this mostly as a resting day workout. As a Yoga – Thai Chi – Pilates based class it is a fabulous stretch.  It certainly is a good workout if it is your only workout.  For me it is about keeping me moving and flexible. I do a lot of tough fitness work and this makes a massive difference to my bodies ability to endure the challenges of these.

Zumba

Let the party start.  A dance fitness class that will keep you coming back over and over and over.  In fact I love it so much I ended up taking the instructor training.  Loads of fun and a great workout if you are looking to up your cardiovascular fitness.

No matter what anyone says.  If you are not trying to be a competing body builder, group fitness is the way to go.  Not only will it help you reach your goals but it will let you do it with joy.  It is fun, engaging and worth the trouble.  Works for me…

Obsession

You have decided to start your weight loss journey.  You are motivated and excited to get things moving.  Even more so by the image of who you expect to be after you have succeeded.  Beautiful body is your destiny.  You know, like in the magazines…

And the promises.  Near instant results are always guaranteed?….

Getting started is often easy enough for most of us.  Unfortunately shortly after getting started, reality will hit you right down if you let it.

Here is the truth.

Every fitness model in every magazine has worked long and hard for their look.  And by work I do not just mean exercise or diet or any one thing.  For them to have reached their success, they will have had to make a real commitment to carefully manage every aspect of their lives, with a single minded focus.  Get there and stay there.

They would also have had to do so for a long time.  Their success will have taken many years of blood, sweat and tears. Many years of sacrificing many things that we often take for granted.  The illusion that you could be fat today and thin and hot tomorrow, with little effort and time is just that.  An illusion.  Sure it is spellbinding, but an illusion nonetheless.

Obsession is what it will take. This means:

  • You will have to diet with single minded obsession.
  • You will have to exercise with single minded obsession.
  • You will have prioritise your life with single minded obsession.
  • You will have to live through, pain and discomfort, with single minded obsession.
  • You will have to sacrifice many things in your life, with single minded obsession.
  • You will have to do all of these at the same time for a long time, with single minded obsession.

It will be uncomfortable. It will be painful.  It will be hard.  It will also be fun. It will be exciting. And it will be worth it in ways that you cannot imagine.

Trust me on this one thing.  It is so worth it…

Limits “Un”-Defined

It is so truly amazing how easy it is for us to decide our limits and abilities without even really giving it a second thought.  Every decision we make and every thought that we have, defines who we think we are and what we think we are capable of. Limits what we can achieve.  Limits who we can be.

Talking to good friend in the throws of starting his first business, we were discussing potential clients.  Suggesting that he reach out to a rather large company in his field, his first and immediate reaction was, “They are too big a fish”.  And that was it.  Limit defined.

My next questions were : Why?  How do you know? What do you have too loose by trying?

The point is this.

How do you know if you do not at least try?

Think you cannot pick up the weight at the gym?  How do you know?  Have you tried?  Really tried?

Think you will never survive the next fitness class?  Are you sure?

Think you cannot loose weight? Hmpf….

No argument it will not be easy.  And your motivation to succeed will be tested over and over and over.  But if you never stop testing your limits, you will never find them.  All you have to do is just keep on testing.

Unlimited…  Just saying….

We Only Live Once

I was chatting to a good friend the other day, discussing the challenges associated with eliminating sugar out of any diet. And though we could not fully agree on the merits of such an action, she did make a statement that was rather disconcerting for it’s intent and context.  It was even more so since I have heard this statement from so many people in my life with similar context.  It is a defeatist statements.  It serves as an excuse for doing so many life destroying things.

“We only live once…”

Does that mean that it is fine to eat poison (things like sugar and chocolate and greasy cholesterol ridden foods), just because we must?  Because it will hurt or kill you sooner or later.  Or perhaps we should just jump out of a plane without a parachute.  Might be more fun and quicker at least.  I mean if suicide is your desire….

We only live once after all. Right?…

A little extreme, I know..

For me the realisation of the meaning of this statement however, holds a somewhat different meaning.  A question of how great will that life be?

I want to do things just because I can.  I want to live a long and healthy life.  I do not wish to die young and I most certainly do not wish live my life in a state of illness and discomfort for any duration of time.   If I am sticking around, I want to enjoy my life.  All of it.

So let’s stop using this as excuse for destructive behaviour and rather use it as a motivation for creating a better life.  A healthier life.  A life that is actually worth living, where we can live it focusing on things that really matter, rather than these trivial yet oh so destructive behaviours.

Live, love and enjoy the things that really matter.  And make it last if you can…. Just my two cents….

The Importance of Measurable Self Image Goals

“I am fat”.  “I am unfit”.  “I am unhealthy”….. or am I?

The age old question of “to be or not to be…”

Working through my self image issues as I progressed with my fitness and health quest, has been no simple task.  No matter how successful you end up being, since self image driven results are so subjective, there will always be that niggling disbelief in the result.

Even when you reach your weight loss goals, it is easy to still look in the mirror and be unsatisfied with your appearance.  You still have that skin or this shadow in the wrong place.

This inevitably becomes a significant source of stress and agitation leading to other issues, including eating disorders and psychological conditions including depression and anxiety or just a simple lack of self confidence.

Despite the fact that I have successfully lost 80 pounds, and by any definition would be considered a very fit individual, I still look in the mirror and remain unsatisfied.  I am still uncomfortable to take my shirt off in public.  My focus tend to significantly be on my areas of failure, rather than my extraordinary success.

For me the solution to dealing with this insanity at least somewhat, proved to be clearly defined and measurable goals.  Weight loss is simple to measure.  Just get on a scale.  Once the goal was reached I also had a marker of weight that I could hold to.

A generally accepted measure for fitness is heart rate.  Beats per minute.  I am currently at a waking pulse below 50 beats per minute.  I am fit and I can measure that.

Health.  Probably a little more difficult, but a regular checkup with your doctor should do the trick.  Take advantage of regular blood tests to help you figure out your best life strategy for change or maintenance.

What’s left.  Waistline skin and muffin tops.  I found this a particularly tough one, because it is so hard to measure.  The best you can hope for is to measure progress.  Let that be your goal.  A photo works well for comparison every month or two.

The point is this.

Whatever goal you seek to achieve, make sure that it is clear, and definitively measurable.  Do not get caught in the subjectivity trap that is self image.  Sure, you may find that you are still not satisfied when you have reached your goal.  It is fine to reassess and set a new goal, but make sure that it is measurable and safe. That’s it…

The Most Powerful Weight Loss Tool Ever

In a world where instant gratification is not only a way of life, but expected and often anticipated, it is no surprise that we so easily forget to use one of the most powerful tools ever to exist.  A tool that everyone of us already possess, if we chose.

This is even more true when it comes to our weight loss struggle.  When we start, our expectations are often misguided. We want to believe the advertising and marketing that so dramatically takes advantage of our desperation.  Unrealistic promises and beautiful models sell stupidity, fuelling completely unrealistic expectations.

Sadly all the hype usually just results in nothing.  We fail because we want to believe the nonsense which causes us to ignore the most powerful tool in our personal tool kit.  A tool which when combined with anything else we do, will change the outcome every single time.

That tool is “Patience”.

If you apply patience to anything you endeavour to do, your chances of success grows incrementally.

Do exercise and be patient.  You will get results.

Diet and be patient.  You will get results.

No matter what you do, with patience you can be completely unstoppable.  The results of whatever you do with patience is always there.  You can be certain of that.

That’s really it. Simple, effective and guaranteed to yield results, if you have patience…

Food. Food. Glorious Food.

Fad diets. Special smoothies. Appetite suppressants. Diet supplements.  Instant, do nothing loose weight secrets.  The list is never-ending….

Too bad most of these never really work as advertised, and even if they do work somewhat, any results you get from these are short lived and never lasts.

No matter which one of these you end up on, you can only do them for so long.  They are simply not sustainable.  Any gains that you have made will likely be lost the second you stop.  More often than not, the gains also come at a cost to health and well being, especially if followed for extended periods of time.  Somewhat counter intuitive.

The answer is food. Real food.

True, the results you seek may take a little longer.  True, it may seem a little more complicated than just taking a diet supplement or drinking a smoothie.  It may even require some more planning and care.

It will serve you much better to rely on real food to get you there. Especially if you wish to loose weight sustainably and stay healthy throughout the process.  You will also be able to develop a lifestyle that is conducive to staying where you are once you have reached your goals. What is really the point of putting your body through the discomfort of reaching a weight loss goal, if you are not able to sustain it once reached?

Some of the benefits of eating real food are :

  • It is easy to track.
  • It is easy to adjust as the need arises.  You can create a long term lifestyle around it.
  • It is much healthier (if you don’t eat junk food).
  • It is indefinitely sustainable.
  • It usually tastes a bit better.

I live by this rule.  I eat real food.  I lost 80 pounds.  I have kept it off for years now.

So can you…

Keeping Change Permanent

As if reaching weight loss goals are not hard enough, once you reach those goals, staying on track and not reverting back to your previous self is nearly impossible.  In most instances, once goals are reached we tend to sigh  and then revert back to old habits.  Habits that got us to the unhappy place to begin with.

Therein the crux of our success, and failure.

It’s about habits.

In order to succeed at your weight loss, you would have had to develop and maintain some very specific habits to help you get there.  Once you reach your goals however, those habits do not work any more.  At some point you want to stop loosing weight.

Stopping the habits that got you there however will likely prove disastrous. Rather than stopping your habits keep on following them but adapt them to your new situation.  This may require some experimentation, however if you keep your weight loss habits as a foundation and always revert back to that in case your adjustments do not work, you will be able to stay the path.

This is the secret.  Keep the habits that helped you to loose weight.  Adjust the habits slightly to your new situation.  Keep on experimenting until you find the right mix.


That’s it.  Simple. Effective. Proven.

What Motivates You

When we make a choice to change, the decision is often followed by some half hearted attempt to affect the change, and then dismal failure.  After numerous attempts for most of us the choice not to change becomes just easier.

Why then is it so easy to fail?  Why is it so hard to succeed? Why …?

Rather than focusing on the reasons for failure why not focus on what really motivates us.  These are the questions that will decide our success or failure.

What is your real motivation? Why do you want to change?  What would you do to achieve it?

The funny thing about this is that even the threat of impending death is rarely enough to actually motivate us.  Consider this.

Do you like to eat chocolate or baked goods filled with sugary goodness?  If you do, I have to ask.  Are you not afraid of diabetes and obesity and all the issues that stem from that?  If you are, why do you continue to eat it then?  You like it?…

The reality is that most things that are not clearly impending (and sometimes not even then) are enough to motivate us to change, and stay the course when we do.  We need something else.

Think of something you like to do.  Something that gets you out of bed.  Something that is not hard to do over and over again.  What makes you do that?

I simply love doing the things that I love to do.  I enjoy social interaction a lot.  An opportunity to hang out with friends and of course meet some new ones.  Easy to do every single day.

Knowing this and knowing that I needed to do some exercise then helped me figure out that I needed to find a way to combine the two.

I do Zumba (and some other) classes.  Exercise, social interaction.  Lots of friends.  Love it, love it, love it….

I have been motivated, and continue to be so for years now.

That is the secret.  Find what you love, combine it with what you need, and see the change happen.

Simple as that.

Picking the right exercise

For most doing exercise as part of a life change plan is a lost cause, often before it even starts.  The commitment required to keep at it is just too much.  Conventional wisdom also pushes towards some sort of gym connection.  The expectation is : go to the gym, exercise, loose weight and look perfect.

And though this can be true, few ever really achieve success following this path.

The problem is boredom.  It is so hard to get excited about exercise if it is a chore and especially if it is boring.  You will keep on finding reasons not to do it.  Guaranteed fail.

For me there were three things that solved this problem.

Do something you love.

If you love the thing you are doing for exercise, it is very easy to stay the path.  It also does not really matter what it is, as long as you keep moving.  Whether it is cycling, running, walking, hiking, martial arts, Tai Chi, yoga kayaking, dancing or whatever.  Find the thing you love and do that.

Make sure it can be repeated.


Whatever you choose to do, be sure that you can repeat it over and over, until you meet your goals.  No point in doing something that you can do once or twice only or that is too restrictive.

Friends.

Be sure to connect with people over it.  Whether you meet them there or they come with you.  Friends will keep you motivated.  Call you when you don’t show up.  Make it enjoyable when you go.  If your exercise becomes a social activity it is very easy to keep on going.  This will prove true even if the actual exercise is not that inspiring.

That’s it. Find what you love, make some friends, keep on doing it.