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Jan 01

12 Tips for getting into shape after the Holidays

It’s a fact, there are always a surge in gym memberships after the first of the year.  People trying to get back in shape after a year (or 5) of not doing much at all except watching that little gut turn into a full blown belly.   Maybe it’s just been too busy at work, maybe a child was born which took up all of your free time, maybe you just got lazy.  Whatever your motivation for trying to get back in shape realize this.  The vast majority of people who join a gym or hit the running trail after January first all have one thing in common: they quit.  I see it every single year and it really is a sad sight because I know most of them want to be there, otherwise they wouldn’t be putting in the effort (no matter how small).

Physical fitness is very relevant to preppers when you consider any number of SHTF scenarios and what would be involved both during and after.  Take any of the survivalist “icons” who are out there today, people who have been the game for quite some time and have quite a bit of knowledge and supplies built up.  Now add 150lbs of fat to their frame and what do you have?  You now have someone who won’t make it through any SHTF event, at least not without the help of others (at which point they are a liability to their community).

Prepping is all about mindset and so is physical fitness.  By simply deciding that it is time to start prepping you place yourself in a position that is better off than most of the population who keep their heads buried in the sand.  The same is true if you realize that physical fitness is not something that you do once in a while or when you have time, physical fitness is a lifestyle.  The good news is there are ways to make sure you are successful when starting your program after the Holidays.  By deciding that you need to make a change you have already taken the first step and while that’s important nobody ever burned any calories by sitting on the couch and wishing the fat cells away.  Below are 12 tips which will help with your path to success after you put down that plate of pumpkin pie and pick up that dumb bell.  *Make sure to check with your Doctor before starting a workout routine, especially if you haven’t done much of anything for a long time.*

Start small:  I see it all the time, new people who come into the gym and spend 2 hours there doing every conceivable exercise.  Once they are complete with that they get on the treadmill for an hour, their guilt fuels their drive to work out.  Unfortunately this only serves to burn them out, they wake up completely sore and have to take a few days off.  Within 2 weeks they are not seen in the gym again.  Think baby steps, you have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.  20 minutes in the gym 5 times a week is better than one session which lasts 3 hours.

Set attainable/realistic goals:  You will not lose 100lbs in one month nor will you go from walking a mile in 25 minutes to running a mile in 6 minutes.  By setting unrealistic goals you are only setting yourself up for failure and discouragement.  Success comes gradually and sometimes slowly but small victories are still victories.  Maybe you have to stop 4 times to catch your breath while jogging a mile but after a month you only have to stop 2 times.  Or maybe you can only do 3 minutes of the abdominal routine in your fitness class before fatigue sets in, but after a month you can now complete 4 minutes.  Success!

Be consistent:  If physical fitness is a lifestyle it has to be just as important as brushing your teeth every morning, taking a shower, going to work.  You will have days where you are tired, sore, worked late at the office but these are not reasons to stop with your program.  It’s all about mindset, do not give yourself a way out.

Do NOT step on the scale:  Here is where many people set themselves up for failure.  They workout for 1 week and then they weigh themselves.  Once they see no movement on the scale, or maybe just a pound or two difference, they throw in the towel.  Give yourself at least a month before stepping on the scale!  Think of it this way, let’s saysyou are a new shooter and after the first of the year you attend a 2 day tactical shooting course.   Will you graduate the course being able to shoot like a SOF Operator?  Of course not!  You might only be margially better than you were before, progress takes time and effort.

Give yourself 2 months:  Promise yourself that you will give your new program at least 2 months before considering if you want to quit.  Many people get discouraged after a week or two and decide to give up.  You probably won’t see too much progress initially but as I said before progress takes time.  If you look in the mirror every single day you will not notice much of a change, but if you compare a picture of yourself showing day 1 and day 60 the difference will most likely be very noticeable!

It’s not a diet, it’s called eating smart:  Forget measuring out servings, counting calories based on nutritional fact charts.  Start simple, eat smart.  Less (or no) fast food.  Limit yourself to one soda a day (if you can go cold turkey do that).  Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water.  You know french fries are bad for you, so is that massive plate of hamburger helper.  Feeling hungry? Eat an apple or drink a Myoplex shake.  Give yourself one “cheat day” per week when you are allowed to have a slice of pizza and a few beers.

Get some proper workout clothes:  When I used to play sports we had a saying: Look good, feel good, play good.  Get some decent workout clothes, good tennis shoes and moisture wicking shirts.  Besides nobody wants to see you come into the gym in your jean shorts, old polo shirt and construction boots.

Understand you will be discouraged:  I still face this reality today, at least a couple times a month.  There are times when I step out onto the running trail or sit down on a bench in the gym and absolutely don’t feel like being there.  There are times when I wish I could lift more, run faster, feel like I accomplished nothing at all.  Understand this is all part of the process, just keep at it and never quit.

Record your results/progress:  It’s just like going to the range, how will you know if your triple bull performances are getting better unless you start recording the results?  Take a small notebook with you to the gym and record your performance.  Also record each run and the distance/time after you finish.

Cardio, cardio, cardio.  Running, bicycling, walking, swimming…anything that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time is what will really start chipping away at those extra pounds.  Circuit training is also great because it can involve lighter weights but keeps you constantly moving.  If your goal is to lose weight, going to the gym and benching/curling every other day is not going to help you.

Understand that it’s not the program, it’s your dedication.  Some people like traditional weights, some like cross fit, some like p90x and others only do cardio   Everyone has their method for achieving success.  In the beginning it’s more about your dedication to doing something than it is the program itself.

Never Quit.  It’s just that simple.  Never, ever, under any circumstance quit.  It’s not an option, success is your only possible outcome.

 

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10 comments

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  1. Howard

    A very good list of suggestions.

    1. PJ

      Thanks Howard, glad you liked them.

  2. Someoldguy

    As a person who went from 360lbs to 198lbs in the last 20 months, I would say the hardest part is getting over the mental barriers. You’ll be surprised what you can do when you stop listening to that little voice in your head saying, “I can’t do this”. Little changes eventually become the new norm and you eventually become a new person. Good luck anyone getting back in shape, well worth the effort. =)

    1. PJ

      Someoldguy,

      Thanks for sharing your success story! That’s quite an accomplishment and something you should be very proud of. Mental barriers are very hard to overcome, I’m trying to overcome one right now. After a long day at work I’m sitting here in my gym clothes, thinking to myself that I could still just go lay down on the couch “for a few minutes.” MUST…RESIST!

      Thanks

      PJ

    2. Patrick

      Awesome!

  3. Patrick

    Great suggestions, especially the parts about not watching the scale too closely. When I started living low-carb this past Christmas, I was weighing in daily, and my weight fluctuated (both up & down) as much as 5 lbs in a day, it is the overall, long term loss that matters.

    Setting small goals is important, and being consistent is a MUST. You can’t just take off when you don’t feel like it, you’ve got to do something! More than once, on a day when I didn’t ant to work out, once I started, I had some of my best days!

    Another thing to remember is, just because you can’t do a specific exercise, doesn’t mean you give up. That only means you have to find one you can do. Because of past injuries, I can’t run, and even walking is hard on my bad ankles and knee, but bike riding doesn’t hurt. Just find something that you can do to get your heart pumping and sweat flowing.

    The past year hasn’t been easy, but I have lost 45lbs and more importantly, my blood sugar has gone from a scary 250, down to a normal 90. So just keep plugging away, it’s not quick or easy, but what, worth having, is easy?

    1. PJ

      Patrick

      Great point about finding alternative exercises. Like you have I old nagging injuries which haunt me. I can’t squat or deadlift, or do other exercises which put large amounts of strain on my lower back. I take that back, I CAN do them….but walking (or even getting out of bed) for the next few days becomes very painful.

      Congratulations on your weight loss, I’m glad to see that everyone has taken time to share their success stories here in the comment section. Hopefully it will motivate others.

      PJ

  4. Ditch Doctor

    Wow PJ another really good article.
    I’m a retired firefighter and needed to stay in top shape so I worked out 5 days a week and ate smart 6 days a week, Some holidays don’t count…..LOL
    I see folks in the gym that need to LOSE WEIGHT and they are trying to work their biceps…..
    I agree with you, cardio is so important for weight loss and for heart health.
    I tell people to start small like, one month. Don’t eat anything white. No salt, no sugar, and no white flour,
    Next, log everything you put in your mouth. People not only eat when they are hungry but don’t realize that they eat when bored or stressed.
    After one month, people can see a difference and hopefully they will jump on for another month or longer.
    For me, it’s not a program or diet, it’s a way of life.
    Thank you and take care

    1. PJ

      DD,

      I think it’s a holdover from our high school sports days. Bench and biceps, bench and biceps! When you get a little older the cardio becomes much more important, especially considering the weight just doesn’t melt off like it used to. I totally agree that fitness has to be a way of life. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’m glad that by sharing some tips others like yourself have chosen to chime in and add their experiences.

      Thanks again

      PJ

  5. Georges Fahmy

    Another awesome article by PJ, i totally agree with the advice. Fitness is a lifestyle, one must keep striving to become the best, to increase survival rate. If you can’t pull your own weight (Doing one Pullup) at the gym, how well do you think you will fare in a SHTF scenario when you must climb a fence while carrying you Bugout Bag that weighs 12kgs after you’ve spent your breath running away from evil doers?

    A friend of mine (In Lebanon) is a prepper, and he has enough food, water, ammo, and preps to last him a while. He even trained with me in Senshido (Personal Protection) and firearms. BUT…He is a lazy cracker that uses the “I have no time” and “I’m a former athlete, I was a national swimming champion” excuses to not train. Even though i still have remnants of a belly, at least I’m doing my best to be as strong and as fit as possible. He, on the other hand, thinks that when the SHTF, he will metamorphose into a warrior athlete overnight by shedding his small beer belly, and grow the muscles that matter. Truth be told, he is physically weak and my female students can manhandle him. A sad story indeed…

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