How’s That Workout Resolution Going?

A performance consultant offers seven ways to help you sustain your New Year’s momentum

By Dr. Ben Conmy

So, it’s been more than a month and your regimen in the gym is where? Still going strong? Stuttering a little? Terminated? Are you already back in McDonald’s, cursing gyms and the idiot who developed the treadmill? When the year dawned, you were pumped, you were going to change things, and then life started again. Surprisingly, the world did not start to rotate around you and your new fitness program, and every character in your life did not suddenly accommodate your lofty goals.

These seven simple concepts can help you re-ignite your engine and not let 2010 slip away:

Workout Insurance

Korey Goodwin is a world-class performance specialist based in Las Vegas. Here are a few of his favorite energy snacks and supplements that can lead to a better workout day.

  • Clif Bar. A great source of dietary fiber, which sustains energy through a workout or—if used as a meal option—provides a sense of fullness. Best if eaten about an hour before a workout or a couple of hours after a meal.
  • Large apple and a handful of raw almonds. A quick, easy and complete meal, with the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat. Beta-Alanine. Decreases muscle fatigue and helps muscle fibers sustain more efficient contraction during a workout, promoting strength gains. Take one gram every 30 minutes during the workout.
  • Fish oils. One to four grams a day of EPA and DHA helps reduce inflammation. It’s good to take one to two grams with breakfast and one to two grams post-workout, aiding in muscle recovery.

Smile. Learn to enjoy the venue for working out, wherever it may be (home, work, gym, Mount Charleston). You cannot expect to go from the bar with a cocktail in your hand to cranking out 45 minutes on the elliptical machine and be euphoric about doing it. Initially it’s intolerably tough—accept that. For the first couple of weeks, when you don’t feel like working out, don’t. But do something pleasant: Make positive associations that bring you back to training. If that’s relaxing in the steam room, great; if that’s a long shower, marvelous; if that’s watching Days of Our Lives while riding the exercise bike at home, superb! Getting to a gym should be the first priority. Enjoying your time there should be a close second.

Routine and Habit. The sooner you can form habits directly related to exercise the better. Preparing gear the evening before a workout can facilitate the transition from thinking about training to actually pumping that iron. In the morning, before you’ve had your coffee, preparing gym clothes can seem more daunting than restructuring Iraq’s political system.

Individualization. We each have unique circumstances. Where we are starting from, what we enjoy, what we loathe, and ultimately, what is going to drive us to continue with the training regimen. Think about what you really want from this exercise program, and then go for it. This is your deal; take absolute responsibility for it, or you will never really buy into it comprehensively.

Variety. Professional athletes are paid to peak for specific sporting challenges and their training can often be monotonous; yours does not have to be. Change it up. Keep yourself interested in the machines, and the workout environment itself. Explore the place, try new things. Boredom is often the silent killer. Twenty minutes of exercise even at a moderate level is very healthy.

Logistics. You do not operate in a magical vacuum; you need food and liquids to exercise proficiently. It is unlikely that each time you train you will have the perfect preparation—correct food, sufficient water and adequate rest. Don’t let these “insurance” tools justify your desire to blow off training. Get a solid nutritional infrastructure in place for the troublesome days (see sidebar).

Simplicity. I could have written about complicated theories on exercise psychology, but that’s half the problem with getting people to work out in the first place. Keep it simple. Get to the workout location. Exercise until you feel a little tired. And repeat. The easier you make getting some exercise the more likely you will do it.

Relax. You missed a day—so what? Beating yourself up for not being some sort of bodybuilding machine is not going to help you resume working out. As soon as you associate training with misery or annoyance, you are on a slippery slope. Calm down, chill out and take your time. If this process is to have any chance, getting stressed out because you didn’t do 1,000 sit-ups last week helps no one. Celebrate the little wins (10 sit-ups) because in the end, it will be you alone who keeps this regimen ticking. Rejoicing in the intimate moments of personal triumph, however small, will be crucial in the end.

Dr. Ben Conmy is a Las Vegas-based performance consultant who works with athletes, executives and performers throughout the United States and Europe.