As a fitness professional, I am asked questions about diet, exercise, weight training, cardio vs. weights, and mostly, “What do I need to do to lose a few pounds?” My answer is usually simple, “Start by cutting calories (My Fitness Pal is a great tool) and get some exercise”. If the person asking signs up to train with me, they get more than that, but my simple answer is to those who just ask.
This is the interesting part, never am I asked the question, “How do I stay in shape once I am in shape?” That is the hardest thing to answer. That is what keeps fitness professionals in business; that is what seems to elude us all.
With all of the 12 week programs- get in shape and win a million dollars, it’s all about who looks the best in the end. The winner is the best at 12 weeks, but check up on them in 2 years…. One of my peers even made a program that didn’t focus on how you looked as much as how well you did, the trials and issues of life you went through yet managed to get in shape. In the end I believe it became more of a “how you look in the end” contest. But anyway, the point is there are countless articles and contests and “so called research” on getting in shape. The right way, wrong way, controversial way and any way in between. There are so many different ways to get in shape, and as someone who has seen so much in the fitness industry the past 30+ years, I have come to the conclusion that getting in shape is the easy part. It is staying in shape that is hard. Real hard, and there is no magic potion that keeps you there once you are there. You can change your mind, your outlook on life, and say you have changed your life. You can change your habits , you can stay in shape longer than all your friends, but some day, one day, usually sooner than later, you will get back out of shape. Again and again, over and over throughout your life.
Staying in shape is hard work. Life gets in the way; there are days and times I could just give up. There are times when my mind attempts to play tricks on me, I hear things resounding in my head like, “you’re a woman not a man, you’re going through menopause. You’re fighting an uphill battle, bad genes, you are getting older, there is no time, boy could I use some time off to relax”….
Whatever you can come up with, it’s all excuses. What we think are reasons are typically excuses wrapped up and disguised as ultimately untruth’s or lies..
I have been working very hard to get a town house ready to move into. I actually have been working my tail off. Do I have time to exercise, eat right and make my food for the week? No, the answer is no, but because I train people for a living, I have to stay in somewhat good shape. Ultimately I force myself daily, whether I like it or not, to workout- even for 20 minutes each day, sometimes even just going through the motions, it is something. The only tool I use right now is the scale. I weigh every single morning ( I never do that otherwise) if I find my weight is 3 lbs. higher than normal, I tighten the diet or be sure to work out with more enthusiasm the next few days. or if I stay on target I keep doing what I am doing. I feel less healthy than usual now but I remain the same size. Amazing but true.
Staying in shape is hard work. Its hard for me, and its hard for you. It is hard no matter what. it is a constant fight, struggle, work, dedication, each and every day it is a decision. And no fun while there are stresses and work to do and more stress piling up daily around me. But guess what? I do it, ultimately I do it. I stay in shape and lately I add “for now” because really I would love to just let go for a while, and rest! But I do not think that will ever happen.
So while I am living this hard lifestyle, when you ask me next time what to do to get in shape, I may come back and ask, “What will you do to stay in shape- forever- after the easy part has ended”?
What will you do?