Through my years of competing and personal training I have noticed the one main ingredient that keeps people from reaching their fitness goals; consistency! People tend to be impatient when it comes to exercise. I get it; we want, what we want when we want it, right? Too many times people do not give their exercise or nutrition plans enough time to reap the benefits they are looking for.
No matter what we do in life we will not achieve the success we want unless we work at it day in and day out for months and months. Sorry, I am just the messenger. The same goes for your exercise programs. You can have the best trainer or coach in the world and the best nutrition to follow it up, but if you do not stick with it consistently, you will wind up spinning your wheels. This can be very frustrating for someone who is trying hit a certain goal by a certain date OR just a goal in general.
THE 3 KEYS TO CONSISTENCY
As a coach and from my experience with over 20 years in the industry, I feel there are three main components in any exercise program to build lean muscle and lose unwanted body fat. These components are resistance training (lifting weights or using body weight), cardiovascular exercise and proper nutrition. All three are equally important on achieving your goals in fitness.
If one is not executed consistently, the other two will suffer and so will your progress. Don't get me wrong; to assume we can be perfect, 100% of the time will just be setting ourselves up for failure. It should be about progress, not perfection. Your goal should be to follow your programs the best you can most of the time. The longer the time you stick with something the better you will become at it. Here are a few ways we can remain more consistent with our exercise and nutrition programs.
Depending on your goals, you should perform some type of resistance training with weights anywhere from 3-6 times per week. The importance of resistance training is that it will help increase your lean, toned body mass, thus giving a better shape to the body and increasing you basal metabolic rate (look it up!). Muscle is like a 24-hour furnace, so we must be sure we maintain or even increase our lean muscle to keep the metabolism on the rise.
To help keep you more dedicated; I would find a workout partner or hire the help of a qualified personal trainer or coach. This way you are held accountable. I am more likely to go to the gym if I know there is someone waiting for me that I am accountable on my own. Also having a training partner, a trainer or a small group (or boot camp crew) will keep you more focused and motivated during your workouts.
Cardiovascular activity is necessary to keep the metabolism roaring and help you burn some extra calories that will lead to fat loss. The main reason I choose to do a moderate amount of cardio; is that it allows me to eat more food and still make the fat loss results I am looking for. Some people who rely on diet alone to lose fat usually find themselves losing weight but also a lot of muscle. They become a smaller version of their flabby self. Keeping a little bit more food in the diet, but using effective high intensity cardio sessions to burn more calories, will end up in retention of lean muscle while losing the fat.
If possible a few days per week, I recommend doing your cardio first thing in the morning, 20-30 minutes plus, before breakfast (fasted). This way it is out of the way, and it will really boost your energy for a good portion of the day to follow. It is a little tough in the beginning, but after a week, you will feel so good doing it, you will be locked in a routine.
If there is no way you can do it first thing in the morning OR if you already do boot camp (which you DO need to eat before), I would do it right after you train with weights or at night after your last meal. Bring a headset with your favorite music to help the time go faster and use good beats per minute (BMP) to rev your pace. As the weather gets nicer, include outdoor cardio like jogging, running, stairs and/or hill intervals.
This is where I find the biggest inconsistency lies with most clients. Some are good for 2-3 days, but blow it for two days, etc. This viscous cycle will lead to frustration and no results. Instead of following an extreme diet plan, I rather you follow a nutrition plan that is moderate and one you feel you can follow every day for most of the time. Find a plan that is filled with the healthy foods you like that allow you to feel fed and NOT deprived.
NO, this does not mean ice cream! BUT once in a long while, you can indulge and enjoy. Moderation is the key. But even if you slack and indulge in one or two of your meals, the day is not ruined; just start back to your healthy eating for your next meal following.
Convenience is a big factor that affects the consistency of eating the right foods. I recommend you get in the habit of preparing your own meals ahead of time. This will eliminate the excuses of stopping off at a fast food place because you have nothing to eat. It will eliminate the excuse for skipping a much-needed meal. I cook meats, veggies and starches on Sunday and Wednesday, these are the days my schedule allows me to prep.
I would invest the money in a good grill and some glass Tupperware. The best thing about preparing your meals is that you know exactly what you are eating and have complete control of the food you eat.
To speed up the metabolism and to help recuperate from your workouts, try to eat 5-6 small meals per day. It takes a minimum of around two weeks of a consistent eating regime to start boosting your metabolism and making results as far as lean muscle gain and fat loss. Supplement companies today made it very easy to hit all of your meals.
You can purchase a protein powder and/or meal replacement packets. Protein shakes in a can already mixed and protein bars that are low in sugar, are very easy to carry. Again these help eliminate any excuse for not getting the proper nutrition your body needs at the proper time. I would still rather you eat whole foods, but something is better than nothing at all.
A consistent and effective routine will take some time to develop. After a couple of weeks, it will be part of your every day process. Once you hit that level it is smooth sailing, almost "auto-pilot." Sure, in the beginning it will be difficult at times to prepare all your meals, do all your cardio, and hit every training session.
You will get use to it, I promise and there will come a point where you will not even think about it because it will be a consistent part of your daily routine. It is just a matter of convincing yourself that you can do it and giving yourself time to get there. The more time you do it, the more confidence you will develop to stick with it. So please go out there and try your best, you owe it to yourself! Take care and I am here to help!
Adapted from https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/zaino16.htm