Health Overhaul!

By Mike Donavanik

I’m tired of sitting around saying I’m going to change my life. I’m ready to do something! I’m 37 years old, average height (5’9”) and slightly above average weight. I’m pushing that 200-, 210-pound range and just fed up. I used to be fit and physically active, but work and life have slowed me down and deterred me from living healthy. It’s been a good five years since I’ve really been diligent in the gym—where and how do I even start? I feel like my eating habits are all off (fast food is fast and convenient, after all), and I tire easily. But I’m just sick of seeing that man staring back at me in the mirror right now. Is it too late to make lasting change?

Samuel via instinctmagazine.com

THE START

Samuel, it’s never too late to make lasting change– especially at 37 years old! It’s all going to start with chang- ing your mind-set and putting yourself first. It’s time for you to start liking the man you see in the mirror and start being happy again—and that’s not going to happen by sitting around. So my first piece of advice: Get up and get moving!

No more excuses about not having time because work and life are getting in the way. The fact is that we’re all busy and we all have responsibilities, but if you really want to change, you’ll make the time and put in the effort because it’s important to you. Once you do, every facet of your life will start to improve: You’ll have more energy, which will make you more productive at work, and that leads to less stress.

NUTRITION

The simplest thing you can do to better yourself is to clean up your eating habits. Nutrition will account for 70 percent of your weight-loss success. If you just clean up your eating habits, you’ll immediately start to see and feel change in your body. The first thing you need to do is keep a food journal and write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day. It may be tedious, but it will help hold you accountable and open your eyes to what you’re actually eating versus what you think you’re eating.

As convenient as fast food is, think about what you’re actually ingesting and the harm it’s doing to your body. So, easy solution: Cut out the fast food and start planning your meals ahead of time—yes, that means you’ll be packing your snacks and lunches. Every Sunday, plan and prepare your meals for the week ahead with fresh and nutritionally dense foods. Prepare your meals in bulk and store them in Tupperware for each day of the week. That way, they’re ready to go and easy to pack. Next, be sure you eat four to six times a day, roughly every three to four hours. This will help keep your metabolism elevated through- out the day and will prevent you from getting hungry and making poor food choices.

EXERCISE

Eating healthy can only get you so far; shaping the body you want re- quires dedication and persistence in the gym. Remember, nothing worth achieving is going to come easy.

It’s going to take some time getting back to where you were five years ago—but the good news is that once you get into the groove, you should start getting there fairly quickly because of muscle memory.

Plan and schedule your workouts so they become a part of your regular routine. Hold yourself accountable by treating a work- out session as another business appointment. You wouldn’t cancel a meeting with a client, so don’t cancel a workout. Because when all is said and done, your health is more valuable than your most important client.

Your initial goal should be getting to the gym three or four days per week for the first month. Avoid the temptation of going all out at first—it will only lead to burnout. You need to gradually build up your cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength. Try to do a combination of strength training and cardio during your gym sessions. Be efficient with your time at the gym, do what you need to do and get done within 60 to 90 minutes. That means avoid answering e-mails, taking calls, texting, going on Grindr and everything else that our smart- phones allow us to do.

During month two, try getting to the gym four or five days per week. Try increasing the intensity as well—whether that’s increasing the amount of weight you’re using or doing more intense bouts of cardio. This is the time where you really want to solidify your workout schedule, if you haven’t done so in the first month.

By the third month, you should already have found your new routine. From here on out it’s about continuing to make gains by making small changes to your workouts.

A good rule of thumb is to change your workouts every two to three weeks by following the FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type) principle. So every few weeks you should change one or two variables of the FITT principle. By doing this, you will continue to see gains and avoid hitting any plateaus.