Fitness is a Lifestyle

by Paul Dexter – North Providence, RI

You are so excited! After months of hard work, you finally fit into those jeans you couldn’t button not too long ago. You can see those muscles that you always knew were hiding under that fat. You finally finished your first half marathon! No matter what the goal, it’s a great feeling when you put it in your sights and actually accomplished it.

During those months, you were diligent with your workouts (never skipping), prepared your meals in advance (so you wouldn’t make bad impromptu choices). But you decide to go out and “celebrate” for a drink. Then two. Then you say, “What the hell, bring on some nachos!” –you deserve it, right? After that, you have to satisfy that sweet tooth, right? So, you take the “Willy Wonka” train to the nearest frozen yogurt café and load it up with all the fixings!

You say, “Oh, there’s nothing wrong with one night of celebrating.” Except, you wake up the next morning and before you even realize what you’re doing, you find yourself rummaging through the cupboards for that box of Pop-Tarts you bought three months ago,. Once you find yourself staring at the bottom of an empty cardboard box that once was home to “God’s gift to the breakfast pastry” and say, “What did I do!?  Well the day is shot, might as well go out with a bang, and start fresh tomorrow! Chinese for dinner!”

Bad move! One day leads to two…then a week. Then a month. Those jeans begin to get tighter. You get aggravated. You start to go in a downward spiral and you lose the motivation to work out and prepare your foods. Everything you worked so hard for and that made you feel so good isgone, and for what? A quick fling with some sweet tasting treats?

Here’s the thing…every day makes a difference. You cannot train hard and eat right only three days out of the week and expect to see a positive change. There is no five days on, two days off (more commonly known as the weekend) schedule that you can follow and still expect to see results. Fitness is every day. It doesn’t need to be 100%, but it should be close. Though, one isolated cheat meal won’t affect you, what’s really going to get you in trouble is if you extend that meal through the weekend. Repeatedly. Then slowly let it leak into Monday, Tuesday, and the rest of the week. Pretty soon, your weight is creeping back up. Little bites are nothing, but added together they become something big. Just because I may steal a few of my kids M&M’s (please, don’t call DCYF), it doesn’t mean I’m not consuming calories. They add up, and, especially if I do it repeatedly, it can easily equal a whole bag.

Again, being fit is a lifestyle; it should be made a habit. Do you brush your teeth? Why? The answer isn’t because it so much fun and tastes delicious! It is because of the consequences of not doing it. What are they? Let’s see…gingivitis, bad breath, cavities, stained teeth, and ultimately decaying, loose teeth that might need to be pulled out.

Exercising is the same thing. Hopefully, you enjoy it more than brushing your teeth. But, more importantly, think of all the great things you get from exercising. Exercise makes every aspect of life better. And what are the consequences of not exercising? Let’s see…osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, tendinitis, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, decreased metabolism, lethargy, and weight gain. That’s the short list.

“Real Results aren’t Measured by a Tape Measure!”

There are far too many excuses being made for why people aren’t exercising consistently. Living a fit life is more than just a sound nutrition and training regimen–it’s also about having a fit mindset. In the beginning, you’ll find that you likely need a lot of extrinsic motivation to make the right decision. You bribe yourself with gifts for when you reach mini milestones and you get a personal trainer so that you will be held accountable and be more consistent. More often than not, you don’t feel like preparing meals or working out, but you dig deep and do it anyway, forcing the habit. Then, soon you start to want to eat healthy, and you are looking forward to breaking new records at your next workout. You look forward to the sweat and busting through those plateaus, basking in the glow of overcoming something that once defeated you (there is nothing more empowering!). You are having fun–you have crossed the line. You now understand that you should treat your body with respect, and you are more than willing to do so.

You realize that fitness is not a one-night stand. If you view fitness as a short-term gig, you are doomed to fail. Think of yourself as being married to fitness: you’ll have disagreements sometimes, you may go days without speaking after a fight, you may not always want or need to be around each other all the time, but at the end of the day, you’re committed for life.

Master the simple, basic rules of nutrition and implement them into your daily life. Eat to live, not live to eat. Prioritize protein at every meal, consume plenty of vegetables, and choose your carbs wisely. This is the basic foundation of quality nutrition that should be solidified before delving into more advanced styles of eating (Atkins, Paleo, etc.). If you couldn’t sustain what you’re doing now for the rest of your life, it isn’t a plan you should be following.

With regards to exercise, pace yourself–don’t bite off more than you can chew and then get discouraged. Be patient–this is a marathon, not a sprint. You didn’t get out of shape overnight, so why would you think you could whip right back into shape because you worked out twice a week for a month and threw in a few salads here and there!? Remember: progress, however slow, is still progress. Think about getting healthy versus losing weight. Long term versus short term. A great side effect of living a healthy lifestyle is usually looking better. Be proud of yourself; at least you had the motivation to start. That in itself is a huge step.

What do you want out of life? Why wait to be healthy? If not now, when? I hear excuses all the time–age, sore, lack of time, etc. We have tons of clients that are in better shape now in their 60s than they were in their 40s and 50s. You can be in the best shape of your life at any age–believe that!

 Paul Dexter, with his wife Laura, owns Dexter Training Concepts in North Providence, and has over 20 years of experience in the industry. Dexter Training Concepts celebrated its 10th Anniversary as New England’s Largest Private Personal Training Studio in March of this year. DTC prides themselves on designing tailor-made fitness and nutrition programs for every type of individual. No matter what your goal may be, Dexter Training Concepts will design a program that not only delivers results, but ensures that you have fun while doing it.

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