First of all: Happy New Year! I don’t know that I’m really huge on partying to welcome in the New Year or anything like that, but I love any opportunity to reflect on the past and make goals and plans for the future. I do this regularly. The start of every semester I like to make a list of goals and an accompanying set of plans to help me work on things that I could be doing better at.
I’m sure a lot of you have goals that include getting more fit or losing weight. And those are really great goals to have. My health/fitness/overall wellness journey began with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. It’s been five years since then and I’ve learned a lot.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that a goal without a plan is just wishful thinking. For example, I have a goal of someday hiking to Havasupai Falls. However, because that isn’t a goal that I plan on accomplishing within the next year or so, I don’t have a plan yet. However, I do have a pressing goal of hitting 20% body fat by June. So here is what my plan looks like:
-Get my body fat measured (in the BodPod on campus) every three months. Making an appointment on Wednesday.
-Eat clean (Paleo) 13 out of every 14 days.
-Be mindful of starch and fruit intake, especially on non-workout days.
-CrossFit at least 4 times a week.
There are other parts to this plan that are more secondary goals (work on mobility of one body part after each WOD, go to Endurance weekly, etc.) And I did make other goals that have their own plans (audition to be a Disney Princess, improve my grades, etc). But the important part is that I wrote it all down. That always makes me feel more accountable to myself. And I wrote down the things that I have to do on a regular basis to help me succeed.
Anyone can have a goal, but that’s like saying “I’m going to Hawaii”. Making a plan is like buying the tickets to Hawaii. And then when you achieve your goal, that’s when you’re in Hawaii. (Consequently, I wish I could afford to go to Hawaii as a reward for hitting 20% body fat. Anyone rich want to take me?)
And for those of you who want to lose weight, I want to impart to you the wisdom that I have learned over the last 5 years. If I had to give you only one piece of advice (other than making a plan), it would be this: DO NOT underestimate the importance of weight training. I did for four years, and I wish I had gotten started a lot sooner.
In my first couple of years, I went from a size 18 to a size 12 and from 215 to 150-ish pounds. And I stayed consistent at that weight and size for a couple of years after that. At the beginning of 2011, I decided I was ready to really embark on my quest for lady abs. I did p90x and a few other home-based workout programs. I started tweaking the last bits of junk out of my diet (everything processed had to go, even if it was whole grain — this eventually made the transition to Paleo a lot easier). And then in August, Chris got me to join CrossFit. In the last year, I’ve only lost about 10 pounds. But I’ve gone from a size 12 to a size 8. Sometimes a 6. My body confidence is way higher, my pudge is way smaller, and my posture is improved. I not only look better, but I feel amazing in my own skin.
And I am now convinced that whoever told girls that weight training would make them look manly was probably lying to someone they wanted to stay fat. I am also convinced that thin girls who say things like “I’m fat” often feel that way because they lack the muscle to make their bodies look the way they want. Looking fit is a combination of losing fat AND building muscle. I neglected the muscle for so long because I felt like I was still too chubby to have to worry about it, but worrying about it is what helped me get to the point I wanted to get to. Sure, I still have a handful of body fat percentage points to drop, but I can actually see the faint outlines of my lady abs starting to emerge. My shoulders and arms look toned. My legs look killer in high heels. But in no way do I look manly.
So, basically my whole point is this: if you want to lose weight, you can do that any number of ways. If you want to feel great about your body and you want to look your best: weights. You don’t have to do any particular program. Pick up a copy of the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises if you’re new and don’t have a lot of resources, it’s an excellent place to start. And they have a lot of 6-12 week programs, so you can switch up your routine a lot. Of course, if you have the money and a nearby affiliate, you could always do CrossFit. Or you could borrow your friends copy of P90X. Whatever you plan on doing, make a plan. Pick up weights. Don’t be afraid to lift as heavy as you can. Practice good form. Eat enough protein. For that matter, eat enough food. You can’t starve your way into a nice body. You have to feed it. And, oh yeah, did I mention that you should lift weights? Because you really, really should.