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7 Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

For an unathletic, self-professed geek, I’ve made a fair amount of improvements in my physical life. Going from exercising rarely to exercising every day. I’ve gone getting completely winded after a three mile jog to being able run a half marathon. Switching to a vegetarian diet and still managing to put on fifteen pounds of lean muscle mass.

I don’t think I’ll be gracing the cover of Mens Fitness anytime soon, but I have learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. I’d like to share a few of those lesser known tips.

1) Exercise Daily

What’s easier, exercising three times a week or seven? It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four days to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a habit you don’t do every day.

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2) Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

Exercise for periods longer than sixty to ninety minutes can change the chemical state in the body which destroys muscle and causes fat content to rise, according to James Villepigue and Hugo Rivera of the Body Sculpting Bible for Men. The majority of improvement comes from the final possible exertions, so doing more can often mean getting less.

3) You Have a Set Point, Acknowledge It

Drugged up by no-limits, self-help philosophy, many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where there body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle. Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results. When you expect a plateau you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality you can avoid dietary crashes.

4) Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

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Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether your getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice seems to be:

  • Eat unprocessed
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course

5) Watch Out for Travel

Don’t let a four day holiday interfere with your attempts to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first thirty to sixty days, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

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6) Starting Slow is Better than Fast

Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on. Take your time, you have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

If you are starting running, run less than you can to start. Lifting weights? Work with less weight than you could use. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when you are familiar with regular exercise.

7) People Can Lift OR Anchor

Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can be great motivational boosts and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals. My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

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If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improvements. In this case it is important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

Do you have any uncommon tips for workout success?

Scott Young is a University student who writes about personal development, productivity and goal setting. Some of Scott’s popular articles include: Habitual Mastery, Double Your Reading Rate and How to Ace Your Finals Without Studying. You can get his free e-book on Holistic Learning here

More by this author

Scott H Young

Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

Are you keen to reinvent yourself this year? Or at least use the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits or pick up new ones?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we feel as if we have to turn over a new leaf. The time when we misguidedly imagine that the arrival of a new year will magically provide the catalyst, motivation and persistence we need to reinvent ourselves.

Traditionally, New Year’s Day is styled as the ideal time to kick start a new phase in your life and the time when you must make your all important new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is also one of the worst times to make a major change in your habits because it’s often a relatively stressful time, right in the middle of the party and vacation season.

Don’t set yourself up for failure this year by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Instead follow these seven steps for successfully making a new year’s resolution you can stick to for good.

1. Just pick one thing

If you want to change your life or your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.

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Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of the year and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it.

Don’t pick a New Year’s resolution that’s bound to fail either, like running a marathon if you’re 40lbs overweight and get out of breath walking upstairs. If that’s the case resolve to walk every day. When you’ve got that habit down pat you can graduate to running in short bursts, constant running by March or April and a marathon at the end of the year. What’s the one habit you most want to change?

2. Plan ahead

To ensure success you need to research the change you’re making and plan ahead so you have the resources available when you need them. Here are a few things you should do to prepare and get all the systems in place ready to make your change.

Read up on it – Go to the library and get books on the subject. Whether it’s quitting smoking, taking up running or yoga or becoming vegan there are books to help you prepare for it. Or use the Internet. If you do enough research you should even be looking forward to making the change.

Plan for success – Get everything ready so things will run smoothly. If you’re taking up running make sure you have the trainers, clothes, hat, glasses, ipod loaded with energetic sounds at the ready. Then there can be no excuses.

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3. Anticipate problems

There will be problems so make a list of what they’ll be. If you think about it, you’ll be able to anticipate problems at certain times of the day, with specific people or in special situations. Once you’ve identified the times that will probably be hard work out ways to cope with them when they inevitably crop up.

4. Pick a start date

You don’t have to make these changes on New Year’s Day. That’s the conventional wisdom, but if you truly want to make changes then pick a day when you know you’ll be well-rested, enthusiastic and surrounded by positive people. I’ll be waiting until my kids go back to school in February.

Sometimes picking a date doesn’t work. It’s better to wait until your whole mind and body are fully ready to take on the challenge. You’ll know when it is when the time comes.

5. Go for it

On the big day go for it 100%. Make a commitment and write it down on a card. You just need one short phrase you can carry in your wallet. Or keep it in your car, by your bed and on your bathroom mirror too for an extra dose of positive reinforcement.

Your commitment card will say something like:

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  • I enjoy a clean, smoke-free life.
  • I stay calm and in control even under times of stress.
  • I’m committed to learning how to run my own business.
  • I meditate daily.

6. Accept failure

If you do fail and sneak a cigarette, miss a walk or shout at the kids one morning don’t hate yourself for it. Make a note of the triggers that caused this set back and vow to learn a lesson from them.

If you know that alcohol makes you crave cigarettes and oversleep the next day cut back on it. If you know the morning rush before school makes you shout then get up earlier or prepare things the night before to make it easier on you.

Perseverance is the key to success. Try again, keep trying and you will succeed.

7. Plan rewards

Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going during the hardest first days. After that you can probably reward yourself once a week with a magazine, a long-distance call to a supportive friend, a siesta, a trip to the movies or whatever makes you tick.

Later you can change the rewards to monthly and then at the end of the year you can pick an anniversary reward. Something that you’ll look forward to. You deserve it and you’ll have earned it.

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Whatever your plans and goals are for this year, I’d do wish you luck with them but remember, it’s your life and you make your own luck.

Decide what you want to do this year, plan how to get it and go for it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on.

Are you planning to make a New Year’s resolution? What is it and is it something you’ve tried to do before or something new?

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