How to achieve your fitness goals

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” These words by professional American basketball player Michael Jordan stands true for fitness as much as they do for life

WORDS: JOJO VARGHESE

Fitness by definition stands for being physically fit and healthy. However, most people hitting the gym today are either people wanting / wishing for results to happen.
In their quest for chiselled, well-toned bodies many people end up doing a lot of bizarre things – fad diets, overtraining to usage of supplements without expert advice are just few examples.
The root cause of this lies in the incorrect perception about fitness and setting fitness goals that are unrealistic or illogical. Instead of ‘making’ it happen, people expect overnight results or are looking at shortcuts to reach their fitness goals.
One has to sweat it out, beat the pain, stick to discipline, sacrifice on their lifestyle and habits, and most importantly enjoy the process to be able to get the results and sustain it. Everything else is a recipe for disaster as results gained through other methods do not last long or has long term side effects.

SETTING REALISTIC GOALS:
The first rule of any fitness regime is to set measurable, achievable goals. Getting a six pack in 3 months, losing x kgs in x days, gaining y weight in y days – these do not classify as goals.
The first step is to understand your body type and give your trainer a complete rundown about your body – medical conditions / injuries/accidents etc before starting a programme.
Ask your trainer for an analysis of your BMR, BMI, body fat, muscle mass etc and to keep track of readings, as many people tend to get into the worry mode or end up focusing on these readings excessively than on their workouts.
The initial plan given by your trainer based on this analysis is a realistic goal. Once you start achieving goals, feel and look better, your confidence and enthusiasm quotient would move up several notches and allow your trainer to set higher goals for you.

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KEEP A FITNESS JOURNAL
Having a fitness journal is a small but vital step that will help you reach your goals faster. Notes on your food intake, cheat days etc are particularly important. It inculcates discipline and forces you to pay attention to everything that’s been put into your body.

It also gives you an insight on foods from a calorie / nutrition value perspective with an idea on the amount of protein, carbs, fibre, fat, etc that your body received.

Hence a fitness journal basically keeps a check on the mind games that your food cravings play with you. The idea is not to deprive yourself of what you want, the trick is to be aware and in control without drifting off your daily meal plan significantly.

I know it’s easier said than done, but with time and 2-3 months into maintaining a journal you would be able to do it. I have had clients who showed great progress with their journal, but for some reason stopped maintaining it and had to go through the gruelling process of losing all the extra weight again which they had lost initially.

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CHANGING WORKOUT ROUTINES
Changing workout routines is the next step towards achieving your goals. Your body gets used to and adapts to the type of workouts that you do. Hence in order to keep your metabolism pepped up throughout the course of your programme, it is important to mix workouts from time to time.
Crossfit, trx, functional training, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and cardio are some of the popular variations. Follow a cyclical plan that involves switching between 2-3 variations in a month, broken down to weekly / daily basis.
This way your workouts will not get monotonous and you will avoid hitting plateaus (in fitness, plateau is a point from where your results improve slowly / halt temporarily).
Look at increasing weights gradually rather than increasing them all of a sudden. While it may feel good to lift heavy and do higher reps, incorrect posture could lead to fatal injuries. The actual focus should be on correct posture, contraction of muscles and improving endurance, which will ensure you achieve results in the shortest time.

DIET & NUTRITION
Jack LaLanne, the world famous bodybuilder who was called the Godfather of Fitness, had once said: “Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen”. Fitness is a lifestyle and calls for an overall change in the way you eat, how much you eat, when you eat. Your diet is the make or break factor that will decide whether you achieve your goals or not. Set diet rules for yourself and follow them with complete sincerity.
Remember, the idea is not to deprive yourself of what you like; it is to realise what is necessary for your body and if that particular food will support your fitness goals or not.

Identify foods that do not impede or take you off your fitness goals and replace them with what you crave for.

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Stick to natural stuff instead of processed foods as much as possible. Having 5-6 meals everyday (breakfast – lunch – dinner and a fruit/nuts / salads in between) is advisable.
Fruits should be consumed on an empty stomach before breakfast or at least a couple of hours after. Try and have food around the same time every day; this will regulate your irregular diet patterns and will ensure that your metabolism keeps humming all day long.

REST & RECOVERY
Rest and recovery are required for your body to repair damaged tissues / muscles.

If you’ve been overtraining or feel tired, take a day off for rest. There’s no point doing a workout if you cannot give your 100%.
In the end, always remember that everyone has a different body type; what some achieve in a few months may take a year or more for you. What’s important is not lose focus of your fitness goals and your plans. Shut down those self-defeating thoughts and ideas in your mind. If something stands between you and your success, move it, never be denied. All the best.

Jojo Varghese is a fitness coach.
He can be contact at jojovarghese95@yahoo.com or (+91) 8511333884