Every piece of information on health and fitness I consider as a gem in my imaginary treasure box. I started going to the gym at the age of 16 and it took me 7 years to get to the point, where I was happy with my body. No. Not 7 years of training, but 7 years of life with all the ups and downs. To get the sixpack I was dreaming of took me 3 weeks. Which means, if I had the information at the age of 16, it still would’ve taken 3 weeks. I made many mistakes on the way and I’ll tell you all about it, so you can prevent them happening to you. In this post you’ll read about the conclusion from 7 years of experience so that you can get closer to your fitness (or other) goals, in the shortest possible time. Here’s how: Akos’s 4 stages of getting fit.
Number 1. MOTIVATION
The most important of all is motivation. It doesn’t matter how much money or time you have, or even if you have all the knowledge about nutrition and exercise. If you’re not motivated, you will not get very far. Personally, I found motivation in the negative feeling of self conciousness which I experienced every summer when the time came to take off my shirt at the beach. The worst point was in 2011, when I used to visit KFC twice a week… ye, I’m only human. So in the spring of 2012 I decided, that when I am travelling to the sunny Hungary, I will have my dream abs and walk shirtless proudly.
People throw away tremendous amounts of money on gym memberships, gear and supplements before realising that they lack motivation. They not only waste the money, but they end up destroying their self esteem even more. I fell into this trap many times myself. Once I bought a brand new bass guitar without ever having touched one before… (expensive lesson). So do yourself a favour, and make sure that you’re motivated enough to invest any money in your fitness.
Here is what you should do – I call it the TRIPLE TRIAL – : Do at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week for 3 weeks. This trial you can apply to any activity/hobby you are planning to take on. I found this the best way to make sure that it’s the right thing to invest in.
Number 2. GOAL SETTING
When you’re sure that you’ve got the motivation, you have to set your goal(s). And with those you have to be specific and realistic. Whatever your dream is, you have to write it down. In today’s rushing world, it can be difficult to really concentrate on one thing. Yes, you’ve got work, you’ve got your chores and other problems, but you need to stay focused somehow. I personally like the hands-on approach, and get a big piece of paper to put my goals on it, then display it to a place in my room where I often look. (I like to put it right beside my bed, so I see it when I wake up.) Other things you can use is your mirror where you probably look many times a day, or if you’re more of a digital person, create an image for your desktop wallpaper. (The best is to use all 3, so that you’re reminded often to stay on track.) I call this my treasure map, because it helps me stay on the right path to reach my goal. Make your treasure map fun and exciting. Cut out photos, draw on it and colour it. Visualising your goal doubles the effectiveness.
Here’s a photo of my “3 week sixpack” Treasure Map.
Number 3. NUTRITION
Exercise isn’t enough! You are more likely to lose bodyfat by eating right and not doing exercise, than doing the opposite. I’d never want to encourage anyone not to exercise, but if your goals are smaller and want to make less of an effort, always choose eating clean over exercising (and not eating clean).
An average person consumes way too much carbohydrates. (bread,pasta/noodles,rice,cereal,potatoes etc.) Much more than their body needs. Leaving behind all the eating habits that you are used to is not easy. So according to your goals, I suggest that you gradually stop eating the following foods: FAST FOOD (including FF restaurants and microwave food), SWEETS (including fizzy drinks and fruit juices), BREAD, PASTA, POTATOES. If you eat all these (you probably do), eliminating a few of them will already make a positive change. (ADD THESE “RULES” TO YOUR TREASURE MAP) You are likely to experience higher energy levels and increased ability to focus. If you decide to leave them all, after a couple of days pay special attention to your energy levels, if you feel weak or hungry all the time, add a source of carbs to one of your meals. You might ask what should you eat instead? The best is to have plenty protein (eggs, meat and fish) and as much vegetables as you like. Eating small portions more often also helps a lot, this will fasten your metabolism which helps to increase energy levels too and get more nutrients from the food you consume. I wanted to keep this post very basic. I will have more detailed posts about nutrition at a later date. The above advice will definitely help beginners, but if you want bigger and faster results – for example your holiday is coming in a month – you’ll have to consult a professional. That’s what made the biggest difference for me. The Personal Trainer I went to is specialised in the so called bio-signature modulation, which allows him to gather information about my body composition by the difference in bodyfat percentage in different bodyparts and give extremely useful diet and lifestyle advice. I consulted him at a one hour session, where he took all the measurements, made me a diet plan and gave me advice. We never talked about training plans. Still, this allowed me to get what I could not achieve for years. It cost me his one hourly rate, and to buy the supplements he suggested. That was the best investment I have ever made in my life. I suggest you do the same. You will not regret it.
Number 4. EXERCISE
Exercise does not only get you fit, but makes you feel a lot better about yourself. It transforms you inside out.
I started going to gym at a young age, and got lots of advice from more experienced guys, some professionals too. I am familiar with many exercises and know how to do them correctly, so that they are effective and safe at the same time. (Of course there’s always place for improvement) Having completed a Sports & Recreation College Course and Gym Instructor Training, I am also capable of making an effective training plan.
If you don’t have the knowledge don’t worry! Here are some tips to get you started:
The internet is full of useful advice, how-to videos and even training plans but in my opinion, that’s not the best place to start. You might end up doing more harm than good.
After you have completed the Triple Trial, it’s time to get a gym membership. Nowadays even the cheapest gyms have free classes. These are useful as a motivation and they also provide lots of knowledge about different exercises. It gets you fit in a fun way, you can get to know people with the same goals and interests and in case you are not there or the company, after having done a few classes you can perform the same workout on your own. Even though I have a fair knowledge on training, there’s always something new out there. For example when kettlebells and TRX were becoming popular and my gym got them too, I signed up for a few classes and after that I could use the equipment on my own and integrate it in my training routine.
Although classes give you a good basic knowledge, to really make sure you are doing the right thing you can also sign up for a one on one Personal Training Session. If you discuss with the Professional that you are looking for knowledge on exercises rather than motivation, I believe that a good trainer can show you the basic exercises and how to perform them correctly in only one session. When you look for a PT at your gym please do not rate them by their qualifications, but their form. If they are fit, they know what they are talking about, if they aren’t they don’t.. You can’t teach practical skills from a book… obviously. After all this, just go for it, give it all you’ve got, keep challenging yourself. Don’t go by the sets and reps! Push it to the limit, then go a step further! That’s how you will get closer to the strongest version of yourself, which should be everyone’s ultimate goal.
P.S.: This article is based on my experience, not on science or professional advice. If only one person will find one useful tip within these sentences, it was worth it. Should you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to comment. I love getting feedback, and if you like the blog, sharing would be much appreciated too. You can get updates about every new post by clicking on the follow button in the bottom right corner. Thanks 🙂
Nutrition calculator: http://iifym.com/iifym-calculator/
Bio-Signature Modulation and Personal Training in Aberdeen (The best in my opinion): http://craignicolfitness.com/