There are three main events that keep you from training and staying in shape and if you are aware of them, you can plan around them to avoid getting out of shape and off track because the climb back up is a lot harder than the initial climb.
Change of occupation
Change of Life (marriage, family, kids, relocation).
Any disruption of your daily routine can put you into a physical decline. The added stress saps your energy as you move through your change. No matter who you are, these changes will happen to you, but if you plan for it and prepare for it, you can eliminate the ill effects of THE BIG THREE!!!
There's nothing worse than getting out of shape. Your mind remembers what you used to be able to do while your body is like "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING??!?!" It's awful and extremely depressing. It's even you worse if you were a competitive athlete on any level. The last thing you remember is charging down the field, dashing across the court and tearing up the mat. Now you can't even go 5 minutes on a treadmill without getting exhausted. Oh the humanity.
There have been four times in my life that I have been out of shape (read 30 pounds over weight and not being able to run a mile without stopping.)All of which we a result of the BIG 3.
When I blew out my knee as a kid, I continued eating like I was active and training. I went from 183 to 215. I reported to training camp at 205 and the coaches were left scratching their heads.
The next time I got out of shape was after college. Starting a job and a new life took it's toll. Again, I was eating the same amount when I was competing and I ballooned up from 179 to 215. The next two times were after marriage and a change of jobs. During this time however I was still competing in athletics so I was able to pound myself into shape regularly, it wasn't until I was in my mid to late 30's that I figured out how to do keep myself in great shape.
Knowing these changes are going to happen will allow you to prepare. You may not be able to get to the gym or train like you can but if you can set aside 30 minutes (an hour is ideal) 3 to 6 times a week with running, push ups, sit ups, squats, chair dips or even dumbbell exercises if you can't walk or leg lifts if you can't use your arms. Anything that will keep you in the HABIT of exercise will do the trick. This is only temporary. What your training is a habit. Good habits are hard to change, bad habits are even harder.
2. Eat less
We all know metabolism slows down, but not as much as you think. After you are done growing (in your late teens to early twenties) your caloric intake is mainly dictated by activity. Less out put requires less input. Cut what your eating in half and go from there.
3. Be consistent
Training for life is all about consistency over time. You will miss a day or two here or there, but make sure you do something, even if it's just walking if you missed more than 3 days in a row. Some days you will go hard, other days, not so much. Set aside the time and do it religiously.
4. Schedule days off
Plan on taking one or two days a week off and also one week every 6 to 8 weeks. This will give you short term training goals to shoot for.
5. Weigh in once a week
Your weight will fluctuate a few % over the week. Plan your weigh in at the same time every week. Don't get discouraged by the numbers. If you have been sedentary for a long time it will take longer to get the ball moving in the right direction.
6. Change your routine.
New activities require the use of different muscle and brain skills. New challenges burn more calories and keep you interested. No matter what you do, keep resistance training (weights) and running as a regular part of your routine if you can do it physically. Elliptical trainers and cycling are OK replacement but look to double and triple your time and effort to get the same results. There is one common activity all professional athletes have in common...ROAD WORK. It hurts, but start of easy. The Couch to 5k plan is great http://www.c25k.com/.
7. Keep a food and exercise journal
This is optional but it does help. Tracking your training and exercise will force you to be honest with yourself. A cool app I picked up for free is Calorie Counter by Fat Secret is very good and easy to use http://www.androlib.com/android.application.com-fatsecret-android-jqpD.aspx
Listen, the proof is in the pudding. Below is a photo of me taken last week on vacation. I'm 42 years old and by implementing these steps I have been able to rise from the fatness and maintain the best shape of my life even though my genetics are predisposed to gaining weight (my father dis when he was 66 of a massive heart attack and he weighed 289 pounds at 5'7" tall.
Damian Ross at 42 "Consistency over time is the key to staying in shape."
The Self Defense Company
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Staying in Shape
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