If you’ve been thinking about recommitting to your health and wellness goals, there’s no better time to get started than the beginning of a new year! To help you on your journey to a better you, we tapped local fitness experts Dallas Malloy and Winston Rice of the Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club for their top exercise and nutrition tips that can be incorporated into any routine. Whether you want to achieve weight loss or build muscle, the following are surefire methods to stay on track, motivated and fit this year.
Take It Slow
If you’ve been sedentary or had a long hiatus from working out, Malloy advises that you take it slow and build on your routine over time rather than doing too much all at once. “One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they go ‘all or nothing’ with their workouts right away,” she says. “This can put you at risk of injury and may even deter you from working out again.” The key is to keep it simple and “do the workout you’re willing to do, the one that you love and makes you feel your best when doing it,” she continues. Doing what you enjoy will keep you from quitting and have you looking forward to your next workout.
Make a Plan
Creating and sticking to a weekly whole-body workout plan will help you evenly condition your body and prevent injury. A typical beginner’s routine may consist of strength training three days a week (targeting different muscle groups), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) one day a week, steady-state cardio and active recovery. And that’s just one example. Since everyone’s abilities and goals are different, people have the luxury of tailoring plans to suit their needs, Rice says. “If there’s a specific sport you love or you enjoy, I always say try to fine-tune whatever sort of gym workout translates over what to what you love to do,” he says. “If it’s not sports-related, and you just like to be in the gym, then make a plan or a regimen that works for you.”
According to Malloy, most people don’t have a problem getting started because they have a big push of confidence in the beginning of their journey; it’s keeping up that motivation for a prolonged period that’s the challenge. It’s important to remember that “achieving your health and fitness goals is a process,” Malloy says. And that process may be slow going for some more than others, making those who don’t see instant results feel discouraged and want to throw in the towel. Before you get to that point, Malloy says that a clear perspective going in will help when these mental roadblocks undoubtedly appear. “One way to keep your momentum going is to change your focus from short-term achievements to long-term ones,” she says. “Everybody, no matter what their goals are, wants long-term health and fitness, so I think it’s a mindset; it definitely starts in the mind.”
Keep a Food Diary
There’s truth behind the saying “Abs are made in the kitchen.” Eating well and working out go hand in hand; balanced and unprocessed meals of protein, fat and carbohydrates help fuel your body and speed up recovery. For those who need a hand keeping their diets in check, “it’s very important to start a food diary and stick with it,” Malloy says. “This has been very helpful for my clients who are focused on losing body fat; it just creates self-awareness and that is the key to losing body fat.” Malloy personally prefers having a handwritten journal, but many of her clients opt for apps such as MyFitnessPal or Lose it! Regardless of which method you choose, she recommends that you use the method you’re willing to do each day. Like working out, “you have to pick habits that are sustainable and that you know you’ll do,” she says.
Look Good, Feel Better
Rice says that what you do during your workouts can influence your performance in all aspects of life outside of the gym. “If you’ve mastered something during an hour-long workout, it can affect the rest of your day, week and month,” he says. “Over time, it helps you continue to build and grow as a person.” Studies have shown that the benefits of exercise are manifold. Working out a few times per week can improve your mood, reduce tension and anxiety, keep pain at bay and much more. This cumulative effect is perhaps why “when you’re setting goals at the gym, it translates to everything else in your life” and helps you succeed at work or school, Rice says. For that reason, “I never come off the tennis court feeling like I didn’t get something out of it,” he says.
Try Something New
There’ll likely be a point in your fitness journey where you plateau or begin to feel bored with your routine, and “it can get tedious doing the same thing each week without see results,” Rice says. But a great way to stay motivated and “shake things up is by finding something new you want to master or trying a new group exercise class,” he suggests. Luckily, our neighborhood has a wealth of exercise options and cutting-edge studios and facilities to help break up the monotony. If gyms aren’t your thing, opt outside for hikes, trail rides and other fresh-air activities in our area that are both challenging and fun. Whichever you decide, Malloy says to “just start moving. If you’ve been doing nothing, just start walking or power walk or swim. Do anything that gets you out there!”