Home Health and Fitness 5 Fitness Tips To Get In Better Shape Before Summer

5 Fitness Tips To Get In Better Shape Before Summer

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black-couple-working-out-300x212 At the start of 2013, I made a dedication, which I make yearly, to get in better shape than 2012. I set some fitness goals for myself, and went about my way. As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2013 (tell me time doesn’t fly!!), it’s time for me to evaluate my progress and outline my plan of action to meet my goals. I set a date of June 2013 for completion of my goals, and while as of writing of this blog, I have yet to get my midway report, I am cognizant that time waits for no one. There’s only 68 days left before Memorial Day, the unofficial start of Summer in the US. I know nany people with goals of that beach ready body aim to be fit by this date. I also know other people might  not have started their journey yet. As someone who has walked this path many times and has drastically improved from my beginnings, I can offer a few tips that work for me and can work for you. I believe in a team effort and the support of others to give you that extra push to meet and exceed your goals, so as I do yearly here, I wanted to offer my positive habits that assist me in staying healthy and getting better:

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Drink More Water, and Less Of The Other Stuff

pouring-on-the-pounds-ad You’ve probably heard about the benefits of drinking water from multiple sources. As a kid, i hated water because “it had no taste!” As many kids I was a sugar fiend, and saw no use for the tasteless, clear liquid that emanated from my kitchen faucet. It wasn’t until I found myself at 207lbs in 2010 out of nowhere that I decided a change was necessary, and nutrition was paramount on that list. I gained a lot of water weight from cycling on and off of creatine, but I didn’t eat right to account for the extra mass I uh… ammassed? I loved juice and soda, but they had to go. Water became my primary source of nourishment with my meals, and I saw the changes it made in me. Skin looked healthier, my body felt more energized, and I was losing weight. All that sugar, HFCS , and even empty calorie laced alcohol can have fat creep on you quickly. Drinking water aided in my nutrition and fat loss, and i ended up not missing a big juice or coca-cola with my food. You can also get some flavor by drinking tea. Green tea is excellent and it has it’s own set of health benefits that can assit you with your goals. Speaking of goals…

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Set Goals, Set Your Mind, and Follow-up

When I read Tom Venuto’s book “Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle”, his first chapter dealt with the mind. He spoke aboutbuilding mental strength, and how to train your mind to be focused on your goals. he suggested writing down goals, writing them in the positive (as if they’ve already been completed – “I have” vs. “I will”) and reading them daily. You give yourself reminders constantly, along with visual aides, of the goals you want to meet. I’ve taken that philosophy, and as much as I was a skeptic, it got me more focused on accomplishing my goals. if anything, it made me more self aware and more conscious of what I wanted to do, and added a layer of accountability that was missing from my old regimen. Set those goals, remind yourself of them, and keep yourself accountable. Set short term and long term goals. have mielstones to reach and reward yourself when you reach them. We can always make great proclamations about what we are going to do, but the successful plans are written out, placed on a timetable, and the status of the project is tracked periodically. You should take great pride in setting a fitness goal, and you should be focused and look forward to shattering that goal in a million pieces!

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Commit To Exercise (Use Your Resources)

This is the most technologically savvy our existence has ever been. Information is literally at our fingertips. We can find out the answers to life’s questions in seconds. I could sit here and share with you all the cardio I hate (but still do) and all my weight training exercises, but Google can lead you to those same green pasteures. The hardest part of working out is getting up and committing yourself to actually WORK OUT! There are many days where I wake up, cursing my existence because I have a tough workout that day. I just want to chill, watch TV, play some video games, read, anything other than kill my body in the gym. Then, I remember where I want to be physically and what it takes to get there, and I toughen up immediately. Life is full of choices. Working out is a choice you make daily, until it becomes a natural habit. You don’t have to live in a gym, but making the effort exercise in some way for 30 minutes a day (average) is hard work. We complain about a lack of time in our schedule. There are 24 hours in a day. Finding the time to perform this in 1/2 of 1 hour is not that serious. We will get our cars maintenanced and remodel our homes in some way, but neglect our body? It happens more often than not, and only by committing to yourself that you will exercise, will you be one step closer to your goal.

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Make Better Food Choices (But you already knew that)

I will agree that it can be difficult for people who always eat bad to change their diet. You can get emotionally and physically attached to fried foods, sweets, and other guilty pleasures. However, when I ate like sh*t, I knew that it wasn’t the healthiest of options, but I didn’t care. If you want to transform yourself, you need to care. If you ever check out Men’s Healths ‘Eat This, Not That” section, you will find many ways to swap out bad food you love for healthier alternatives. For example, you can have greek yogurt instead of ice cream, grilled chicken instead of fried, etc. When i started eating healthier foods, my weight started dropping fast (in the beginning). My body was changing and reacting well to the new food stimulus. You also will notice the change in your body, similar to what I discussed with water. Nutrition is probably about 75% of the equation. Sometimes, we like to think we can out-eat any diet. That’s not the case. Don’t look at people with high metabolisms as the norm. The majority of us have normal bodies and have to treat it with care in order to be healthy. The sacrifice you make is both a lifestyle and nutrition change. Embrace it and make it happen!

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Track Your Progress

This is one of the most important additions I made to my entire health regimen. When I participated in fitness challenges, and read literature on health and fitness, recording your progress was paramount. How can you know how far you’ve progressed if you don’t know where you began? How can you tell if some type of modification to your fitness regimen needs to occur if you can’t make a proper comparison? There are various levels of detail that you can use in tracking your goals, but I would suggest tracking your workouts and your nutrition. There are too many apps and technology in the world today to give any type of excuse about “time”. Many of these apps offer a desktop component also so that you can record your progress from anywhere! I use Gym Hero to record my weight training, Lose it! to track what I eat and set goals for weight loss, and RunKeeper to track my cardio. I also track my body fat percentage, my waist size, and my weight. You need a holisitic view of your body and your progress to make proper determinations on your progress. Don’t rely on antiquated standards  like BMI. Ideally I’d like to track my body fat weekly, but every 2-3 weeks should suffice for me. I weight myself weekly too (same time, same day of the week, and same amount of clothing). Weighing yourself daily is inaccurate and unnecessary torture. Knowing your body fat % and weight and measurements helps you to make adjustments if necessary if you aren’t trending towards the positive. These are high-level things I did to get in better shape. This is my foundation and motivation to get in the best shape possible. I know we have the summer timeline as our motivation, but what would be cooler is a lifelong dedication to being healthier, stronger, and more fit than before. You can do it, if it’s important to you. Don’t let words be the sole representation of your intentions. Actions speak louder.

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“Foursquare check-ins from your favorite gymnasium”

Streetz

What tips do you have for us to get in better shape? Use the comments as a sharing place of health knowledge!

Comment(19)

  1. Good tips. My goal was simply to “bring sexy back before I go to Miami in July.” My problem is I didn’t track my progress so idk how far I’ve come or have yet to go. All I know is I want my six-pack to be more six-pack like, meaning I can see it without flexing. The older I get, the more stubborn/resistant my stomach gets to exercise. Those stomach muscles def aint about that lazy work out life anymore.

    Your Commit to Excercise is critical too. Simply put, we make time for things we want to make time for. I don’t have a lot of pitty for the “I don’t have time” to work out crowd. If you don’t want to work out, just say that, but telling me you can’t find 20 – 30 minutes a day to do a squat or crunch will get you nothing but blank stares and raised eyebrows from me. Plus, like you said, YouTube, Google and even Instagram (I follow a few) are great sources of free work out plans and goals to meet anyone’s timeframe or lifestyle if they make it a priority. Besides, as I always emphasize, your health is dictated by your diet and maintained/improved by your workout.

    1. "Plus, like you said, YouTube, Google and even Instagram (I follow a few) are great sources of free work out plans and goals to meet anyone's timeframe or lifestyle if they make it a priority."

      Or https://www.singleblackmale.org. There are quite a few people here that know what they are talking about when it comes to fitness.

        1. Not 100% to where I used to be. I suppose I'll just have to be content benching only 360 pounds.

  2. Appreciate the post. I’ll add MyFitnessPal as a good tool to track calories. Keeps me accountable and more knowledgeable. Best part is they have regular stuff on there (restaurants you go to, you can scan UPCs of most foods in the grocery store). Takes a lot of guessing out which makes it easier to keep up with.

    My overly simple formula is low calories, low sugar, high protein, high fiber. If I can get three of those I’m good, lol.

  3. I am bad about drinking water. I am trying to work on that. It isn't even that I drink a lot of soda or juice, but I drink very little of anything throughout the day. I have to force myself to drink water.

    I tried using the Crystal Light packets to make water more attractive, but a chemical in that packet causes me to have heart palpitations, so I was out of luck on that front. I think I need to grin and bear it. I also need to cook at home more and cut down on my portion size. My goal is to be bikini ready by June!

  4. MapMyRun is a great app for running and biking.

    And I'll just add that sometimes people set goals too lofty for themselves. Its a pretty difficult task to go from Homer Simpson to Arnold Schwarzenegger in a couple of months and just because you don't turn into Arnold isn't a reason to quit. Part of it is about the incremental steps and even on days when you can't do your normal 5 miles, do 2 miles or 1 mile and then go again tomorrow, but don't say "I've been doing this for 3 weeks and I don't have 6 pack abs so its not worth it" cause then you'll never achieve your goals.
    My recent post Sudoku Program Updates

  5. Yeah i definitely agree with the amount of resources avaiable online. I have no problems eating right and drinking water. My problem seems to stem from eliminating carbs seems to be the only way I can lose weight. I don't eat carbs, but I do like brown rice for dinner. I exercise about 1.5 hours, 3 days a week, and because of financial reasons, I have to use the gym at my job (which only has machines and treadmills). Any suggestions on supplements or fat burners that other readers may use??

    1. Peter Parker: "Any suggestions on supplements or fat burners that other readers may use??"

      It depends on what you are working out for. Assuming losing weight, the two most important for a man are probably fish oil and protein (for some, it's hard to get enough protein from food, especially if you're busy and/or doing a low-carb diet). I personally use Optimum Nutrition's 100% Whey protein and Biotest's Flameout for fish oil. BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) would be a close third, especially when doing low carb. Most fat burners are overrated.

      You should also take a multi-vitamin, although you should probably use less of a dosage than most recommend. Too much of some vitamins are actually toxic.

      1. cosign Hugh.

        I also use Scivation Xtend (A BCAA blend) for during workout / during the day drinking. Helps you during workouts and its great to have BCAAs in ur system daily

      2. Thanks for the help! I do take a multi-vitamin daily and I use a whey protein shake during workouts. Is it possible to gain any muscle mass using machines and doing cardio?

        1. It's possible, but difficult. I'm assuming you're not trying to put on much muscle mass regardless. The machines should help you put on a small amount, but it's hard to do when doing cardio and focusing on losing bodyfat.

          The best way to put on muscle is to eat and do moderate-weight free weight exercises. Machines just don't do the job as well, but they work.

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  7. Great tips. My #1 problem is consistency on both the diet and exercise front. I get into and out of "fitness mode" instead of "lifestyle." I'm working on that internal motivation.

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