With the new year comes a new initiative that usually kick-starts some sort of exercise program. Now, we encourage getting your body moving in 2012, but make sure you get yourself in check and get your priorities straight before beginning your new fitness adventure.
By getting off to a healthy start and focusing on the most important aspects of your program, you'll be more likely to perform at optimal levels, stick with it long enough to see consistent changes and reach your long-term goal.
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If you haven't had a physical within the past year or two, it's a good idea to get things checked out. Conditions like high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar should not be taken lightly. Yes, exercise and proper nutrition will likely help reduce the severity of many conditions your doctor may find, but being aware of any issues will help you put together a fitness plan that is more specific to your needs.
Nagging injuries like that a sore back or achy knees should be addressed for potential structural problems. Again, proper exercises will help stabilize joints and therefore could alleviate some joint discomfort, but a bulging disk in the back or a torn meniscus in the knee could be made worse by certain activities. It's good to know what you're dealing with before you potentially make things worse.
If you're not getting six to eight hours of sleep every night, it's time to re-evaluate how you're spending your evening hours. Adequate sleep needs to be a priority to allow your body proper recovery from the stress of your new routine. Exercise causes physical stress, and your body needs time to recover so it can heal and repair itself. Without proper sleep, you are closing the window of recovery time and further stressing your body. A balance of proper exercise and recovery is the key to consistent results and overall health.
As equally important to rest and recovery is proper nutrition. Without adequate nutrient uptake, your body will struggle to recover from workouts. Quality protein, fats and plenty of vegetables will give your body the building blocks for energy production and cellular repair. Sugary foods give you false energy by temporarily spiking blood sugar levels and increase stress by causing inflammation. If you notice negative bodily responses, such as headaches, runny nose or bloating after eating certain foods, you may want to avoid those foods to see if the symptoms disappear. Listen to your body and figure out which foods work for you and which ones don't.
Finally, have a positive outlook as you begin your fitness program. You are making the right decision and investing in your health, but don't stress yourself out by trying to reach your goal overnight. Understand your body's limits and come up with sensible goal that will keep you moving in the right direction.
So understand that success comes from more than just tough workouts. Get all these areas in check and set yourself up for success in 2012.
• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at PushFitnessTraining.com.