The busiest time for personal trainers in London is fast approaching: the New Year.
Thousands of people will flock to London gyms and PT studios in the quest for fat loss and the perfect body. Sadly, the vast majority will have given up before the month end.
Here are some tips on how to set and achieve your fitness goals. Remember: there’s nothing more important than your health and wellbeing, so it’s well worth the effort…
Values and priorities
Way too many people don’t value their health, or don’t realise that it’s down to them to stay healthy. Don’t be one of those fatalistic people who thinks they’re powerless to lose weight, reduce their blood pressure, or get fitter. If you have a strong enough reason to get fit, you’ll do what it takes.
Myths and Scams
There are plenty of unscrupulous businesses out there who are willing to prey on these false beliefs. I’m talking about crash-diet companies and diet-pill sellers. The last thing you should do is crash diet or take dangerous pills. You’ll damage your health, put your body into fat-storing starvation mode, and waste a lot of your hard-earned money.
Remember: it’s much better to eat healthily than to go on any commercial diet. For more guidance on your nutrition see my 2 weeks online nutrition coaching page.
Even some personal trainers in London fall victim to false beliefs like “all carbs are bad”. This is probably the biggest false belief there is in the world of fitness and nutrition. In truth there are bad carbs (junk food) and good carbs (foods like vegetables, fruit in moderation, sweet potato, quinoa, oats.)
Another false belief is that cardio exercise is the best way to lose weight. Don’t get me wrong, cardio is vital for strengthening your heart and lungs, and building muscular endurance, but for weight loss (by which I mean fat loss) you need to be doing resistance exercise with dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, even bodyweight. See my Exercise pages for more details…
Some of my personal training clients in London tell me they want to lose weight at all costs, and as fast as possible.
Here’s what I advise:
1- Lose weight slowly and keep it off. 2 lbs a week is a good goal, unless you’re morbidly obese and you can safely lose up to 4 lbs a week initially, but then slow the rate down to avoid ending up with lots of loose skin.
2- Don’t obsess about the number on the scales. It’s excess fat you want to lose, not just weight. You may lose weight with commercial diets and diet pills, but often it’s muscle weight you’re losing, together with water and glycogen stores. You don’t want to lose any of these, it’s excess fat you want to lose. Don’t be misled by the scales.
3- It’s not about just eating less, it’s about eating more healthily. That means less junk and more nutritious food.
How to set your fitness goals and stick to them
You’ve probably all heard of the SMART goal-setting system: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed.
Here’s some examples:
Good goal: Lose 4 stone in 6 months, while at same time increasing muscle-mass.
Bad goal: Lose weight asap.
Good goal: Reduce me body fat percentage from 30% to 20% in 6 months.
Bad goal: eat no more than 1,200 calories a day until I’m a size zero.
Even better than SMART goals, are SMARTER goals. The E stands for Exciting. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that “want power” was far more effective than just “willpower.” If you have a clear picture of what you want, and you want it badly enough, it will motivate you towards your goals faster than if you don’t have a clear and compelling vision.
For more about putting excitement into your goals, read Total Recall, the autobiography of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
For more about the power of visualizing your goals, read Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. It’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.
The final two R’s stand for Recorded (keep records of your progress and compare them to your stated goals to see if you’re on track) and React (if you’ve fallen behind, react by changing what you do until you’re back on track. This is the bit most people shy away from).
You’re more likely to achieve your goal if you hold yourself accountable to others. As a personal trainer in London I always encourage my clients to seek the support and motivation of family and friends. Often it’s family and friends who unwittingly hold you back in your fitness goals by encouraging you to eat the wrong foods or drink too much alcohol.
A great way to get new friends who will motivate you is Fitness Buddy. I set up Fitness Buddy several years ago to be a totally free resource for all Londoners to find a fitness buddy in their part of London. Whether it’s gym, tennis, yoga, squash, pilates, martial arts, cycling, running, or a range of other activities, it’s free to join and find a fitness buddy to share your fitness journey.
Dominic Londesborough is the author of this blog, and a personal trainer with 12 years experience.