Since ringing in the new decade, I’m sure you’ve been inundated with information on how to reach all your fitness goals. For most of us, the constant flow of diet trends and exercise advice gets more confusing every day. Now, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of whether we should be cutting all carbs or cutting all fat. When it comes to exercise—will lifting make me bulky or lean? If I only do cardio, will I lose all my strength? You see what I mean…so with all the conflicting information out there, I thought it would be helpful to cut through the noise and get to the heart of change.
My whole life I’ve worked in sports and fitness, helping everyone from professional athletes to postpartum moms. After all this time, there are three things I know can produce real change.
1. Having FUN
Yes. I said it. Even the best program in the world isn’t going to work if you don’t love it. Your body can express its potential in so many beautiful ways, so exercise should never seem miserable.
When I ended my professional soccer career, I tried everything I could think of to stay fit. I joined running clubs, a rock-climbing gym, 24 Hour Fitness, and a cycle studio before I found CrossFit. For me, I have the most fun with CrossFit, but I still like other fitness experiences. Even now I still have limited memberships to a rock-climbing gym (movement) and cycle studio (Rush), but I love CrossFit classes the most, so I direct my energy there.
The reality is that when you’re training unhappy, you’re going to have unhappy results. So, what is it that you have FUN doing? You’re probably not exactly like me or others you follow on social media, so experiment to find what you love. Classpass and the meetup app are great resources to leverage in your experimenting processes!
Real results come when we ingrain ourselves in a community that holds us accountable or reach out to a professional, we know will hold us accountable. For me, I had a breakthrough a couple years ago when I hired a nutrition coach. Sure, I knew what to do regarding nutrition, but I wasn’t holding myself accountable. At that time, hiring a coach was humbling and the accountability she helped provide changed everything.
Communities can help in similar ways. My 6:30am CrossFit classmates will check-in when I miss more than a couple of classes, and a lot of communities are the same! From trail running groups to lifting buddies, when we surround ourselves with people who have similar goals, those people will go out of their ways to help us in our journey.
My college soccer coach (who I later worked for) was insistent throughout my career that I “never leave anything to chance.” It’s a common idiom now, I know, but those five words were pivotal in building my healthy lifestyle.
For athletes I’ve worked with, leaving nothing to chance means intentionally structure exercise into their days and having their meals lined out. Everyone is different, but when it comes to training, what time could you consistently set aside? For me, I train first thing in the morning because I tend to make excuses to skip the workout by the end of the day.
Whether morning, afternoons, or evenings are better for you, make sure to carve out a consistent 30-60 minute window to exercise each day. Sure days will come when this structure is unrealistic, and that’s okay. Rearrange for the following day (or days) and don’t beat yourself up if you miss…life happens.
Now, I intentionally skipped out on any specific exercises or dieting advice because, until you cover these three bases, the perfect diet or program will not get you where you want to go in 2020. Once you have these three things locked-in, then you can shift your focus to the finer details.