You don’t want to look like this guy anymore than I do and, let’s face, we couldn’t if we tried. He represents an all day every day supplement ladened approach to working out that is not conducive to a normal life style. Careers, family, social time, hobbies, volunteer work etc. is how we normal mortals roll.
We are looking for simple refinement to our company logo. The previous post focused on the internal health of our organization (keeping with the corporate analogy again) and part 2 of You 2.0 will turn our attention outward to the brand identifier – our physical appearance.
The first step in the process of reshaping your body is to understand why you’ve failed in the past. Information is a beautiful thing. Some 88% of new year’s resolutions fail because of the limited way that your brain stores information according to Stanford professor Baba Shiv. The brain cells that operate willpower are located in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for handling short-term memory, staying focused and solving abstract tasks. That part of your brain is like a muscle that needs to be trained and it cannot handle the additional load*.
The most effective way to train this muscle and avoid the pitfall is to build a habit. At the end of 2012 you resolved to lose weight and get in shape. Your approach to fitness has been hit-or-miss. You found time when you could with a treadmill walk here and some dumbbell lunges there, and by February the gym was a distant memory. That is because your brain was overwhelmed with the amount of information (willpower) that you were trying to store. But you don’t have an issue remembering or carrying out the things in your life that are a routine part of your existence i.e. going to work, grocery shopping, watching your favorite TV programs etc. They are all on autopilot. Your exercise program must become a habit.
Take small steps to build your habit. I do so by attending a spin class (stationary bike) every Tuesday at my YMCA. It serves as the foundation of my weekly routine. From that point, I carryout a basic routine that concentrates on certain muscle groups each day and that I am able to repeat with ease each week. Doing so ensures that my workouts are routine and very little thought is required. For example, Wednesday is chest/tricep, Thursday bicep/back, Friday shoulders/legs,core and Saturday starts the whole thing over again with Monday as my day off. I incorporate some kind of cardio in my daily warm up. Again, the key is to make it as routine and consistent as possible to train your brain to include it in your daily schedule. You need not live in the gym. 30-45 minutes a day can get this done!
So the good news is that you are not the lazy bastard that you thought you were. The bad news is that you are running out of excuses to reach your goals. (By the way, you don’t want to look like this guy either)
Rebuild With Safety In Mind
Now that we know some of what causes us to come up short of our goals, it’s time to Man Up and and kick this thing into action. But for goodness sake, start slow. Don’t go rushing into the free weight room looking to display a prowess long bereft of action. “A common pitfall guys make is doing too much, too fast” says Kevin S Heffernan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Syracuse University. And as Director of the Human Performance Lab, I think Dr. Kev is worth a listen. “Gone are the ‘go big or go home’ days, at least initially”, he says. Heffernan recommends allowing a little extra time for the warm-up. “Don’t just swing your arm around in a circle for 5 seconds and call that a warm-up like you did when you were younger.” He suggest starting with cardio to elevate body temperature and blood flow to the muscle. After the warm-up, begin with some light static stretching, holding each stretch for 15-20 seconds. Kevin notes, “that even moderate exercise may cause soreness now so don’t get discouraged.”
Other suggestions from Dr. Heffernan include:
a. Incorporate rotator-cuff exercises in your routine (see video demo)
b. Don’t neglect the abs and lower back! (guilty)
c. Learn proper form for all exercises.
d. If you have an injury, don’t work around it and don’t train over it. (guilty here too). Building a shoddy foundation can only lead to collapse.
e. Leave “no pain, no gain” in the 80’s where it belongs.
f. Watch your breathing during resistance exercises. Don’t hold your breath.
g. Be aware of your surroundings (avoid walking into protruding equipment parts)
h. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Use a spotter whenever you can.
Finally,” Kevin says, “recognize that you’re not off the hook for being considered ‘sedentary’ just because you’re going to the gym 30-45 minutes a day. What good is exercise if your’re sitting on your butt/lying down the other 23 hours that day. In addition to moving more, try to sit less.”
Don’t let doubt, perfection and restlessness get in your way. All are barriers to achieving your goals.
I’m not just the president of Hair Club for Men…..
One day I stood in front of the mirror with a sad and sour look on my face and my wife asked what was wrong. I complained to her about the way I looked and she responded with four simple words, “do something about it.” It was so simple and so matter-of-fact yet it felt like a pimp-slap across the face. It was a sobering moment.
If you don’t like the way that your corporate logo is designed, redesign it. Build an active lifestyle and embrace it. Don’t have a bicycle? Buy one. Have a bicycle? Then ride it. Walk when you can. Build up to jog and then a run. Create challenges for yourself. You say you’ve never competed in a 5K run? Well do it. You’ve tried the hit-or-miss approach to working out without success. Create a routine that fits well into your daily schedule and stick to it. Be a creature of habit. You want to get to a point where you feel guilty for missing a workout. Track your progress and take pride in your accomplishments. Be patient.
It’s important to increase your metabolism to lose weight and weight lifting can help you accomplish that. Muscles are an important factor in increasing your metabolism as a pound of muscle can burn up to 20 calories a day. Since lifting weights helps build muscle and burn fat, it has a dual benefit in weight-loss programs. Always remember to lift more weights than your muscles are used to. If you are completing 20 reps of any exercise with relative ease, then you don’t have enough weight. Shoot for 8-12 reps where the last rep of each set causes muscle fatigue. In order to burn fat, build muscle, shape your body and lose weight, most experts recommend weight lifting at least 3 times per week. Incorporate cardio exercises and a healthy diet for quicker results.
Equally important in burning fat and building muscle is getting the proper amount of zzzzzzs. If you are sleep deprived, your metabolism cannot function properly or efficiently.** We generally require 7.5 hours of sleep per night. If you are sleeping an extra half-hour or so over that, you won’t see any improvement. You are getting enough. However, if you are only getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night, improving that to 7.5 – 8.0 per night will likely produce noticeable weight-loss results.
I realize that we are busy little hominids and that there are only so many hours in a day. Something has to give to in order to create room for the transformation that is to take place. Perhaps it is some of the extra time you give your employer or maybe it eats into some family time. In the long run, I believe that all parties that have an interest in you would be willing to give up a little time with you now so that they can experience more days with you down the road as you work toward longevity and improved quality of life.
Thanks to Syracuse University’s Kevin S. Heffernan PhD for his time and valuable contribution to this post and thank you for reading. Now go get busy! Part 3 of You 2.0 will put some final polish on your brand as we take a look at punching up your style.
*Credit blogger Leo Widrich, Buffer
**Credit Denise Mann, Web MD feature writer