They tell you to hit the gym hard and heavy to build muscle mass – but as soon as you stop that lean muscle mass starts to dwindle away. You watch what you eat to lose weight, but as soon as you go back to your normal nutritional habits the weight comes right back. You’ve sacrificed so much over the years with almost nothing to show for it… So what went wrong?
The biggest issue was your mindset… You saw lifting weights to build muscles, or dieting to lose weight and burn fat as finite processes – you had them as short-term goals you could accomplish and abandon. So now you have to learn to look at it differently, and realize that health and fitness come from your overall lifestyle – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
The good news is that it’s not going to take Herculean efforts on your part to reclaim your fitness – not even to maintain it. Instead, small steps each day will build the success habits you need to get back in shape and stay in shape. Remember that your body is very forgiving and will respond positively no matter how old you are – even if you’re already over 100! Just understand that the older you are the longer it might take, and the further away you currently are from top health the smaller each step might have to be at first.
If you’ve been sitting at work all day and mostly sitting around watching TV, playing video games or on the computer nights and weekends, don’t suddenly start trying to run miles or jump into a full-on heavy weight lifting routine – not only would that be counter-productive, it could even kill you (heart attack and stroke are still the top killers in the western world). Instead, start going for a daily walk, do a light workout at the gym or bodyweight exercises at home or start keeping a food diary and journal what you eat each day. Once that journal has a week or two in it, you’ll be able to see where some small changes to your nutrition will start you burning the fat you want to lose.
Don’t try to do too much at once – if you’re not in the habit, it’ll end up like before. Instead, start with just a few changes and stick with them consistently until they’re a normal part of your daily routine and then build from there. To build muscle and get stronger, start with a simple workout and, over time, add in more exercises til you’re doing a full routine. Once you’ve been doing a full workout routine for a while, think about increasing the weight you lift on each exercise. If you’re looking to lose fat, slowly replace some of the carbs you’ve been eating with increased protein content. Once you’ve transitioned to a healthy diet, fine-tune your efforts by adjusting the amount of calories you consume in a day or increasing the amount of energy you expend each day. Again, nothing major, just reasonable tweaks.
Also pay more attention to your rest and stress levels. Your body heals while you sleep, so adjust your schedule as necessary to ensure you’re getting 7 hours of sleep a night or more. And try to avoid stressful situations or learn to meditate to help relieve stress. Stress causes the body to release a chemical known as cortisol, which both eats away at your muscles and helps store additional fat. Effective meditation is also said to help lower blood pressure, and high blood pressure is believed to be a major contributor to many heart attacks and strokes. If you think of meditation as something that must be done in Buddha-like contorted yoga poses you’ll be pleased to know that you can learn to do it anytime, anywhere and in almost any position.
Fitness – being in good shape and maintaining a healthy bodyweight – can be reclaimed. Yes, it takes a change of your daily habits, but there’s very little else you can do that will bring you such powerful results to every aspect of your life. Start making the small changes today and reclaim and maintain your fitness lifestyle starting right now!