Right, so we are approaching the end of January and I have no doubt that for the majority of you any resolutions that you made at New Year are but a hazy memory. There may have been a couple of weeks of structured training and attention paid to your diet at the start of the month, but as the misery of the UK winter grinds interminably on, it can be hard to stick to good habits. So, as much to give myself a pep talk as anything else (there was a 48 hour period in the middle of January when I was actually feeling good about myself, but have long since let things slide), I thought we could lay down some very simple pointers to give ourselves the best chance to be at our best every weekend. Oh, and hopefully to lose a bit of the winter coat as well.
1.Preparation: to burn fat or build muscle you need to be consistent with your nutrition. The easiest way to do this is to prepare meals in advance. Spend a couple of hours in the kitchen on a Sunday batch cooking meals to store in the fridge and freezer-this way you will never have to contemplate a Tesco sandwich for lunch again, and you are giving yourself a huge head start in keeping on top of your nutrition for the week.
2. Juice: to kick-start your body, elevate your mood and generally be a more pleasant, well-adjusted person, try drinking a freshly made juice with your breakfast every day. My wife got a juicer recently, so I benefit from her superior vegetable-buying skills most mornings. You can chuck most things in, but try this for starters-a handful of spinach, half a cucumber, a handful of kale, a red apple and a scoop of whey protein. Alright, it’s hardly a Vincent Vega five dollar shake, and you may have to force the last of it down, but the benefits far outweigh a spot of momentary gagging.
3. Motivation: take photos of yourself (in your pants!) at the start and end of each month. Simple as that. The camera doesn’t lie and if you have kept on top of your training and diet through the month then you have documentary evidence to prove it. And vice versa.
4.Train with a partner: the right partner, of course, not someone you are going to spend half the time discussing Game of Thrones/birds/politics with. Training with someone can be a ball-ache as you are reliant on him turning up etc, but the advantage is that if you establish set times to train together you are more likely to stick to it. Just like squash, if you can find someone who is slightly stronger/fitter than you then all the better as this will obviously force you to raise your game, but either way training hard with a partner will lead to more intensity in your sessions and better results. An alternative is to join a class (you could even remortgage your house and try Crossfit-have you seen how much they charge for that shit?) or if, like me, you essentially prefer to train alone, invest in a heart rate monitor as a way of ensuring you are constantly pushing yourself.
5.Balance: one reason we don’t stick to our training resolutions is that we go too far the other way, and try to completely cut out the fun things in life, like eating foie gras and drinking Chateau Margaux. Unless you feel you are truly destined for greatness and are willing to live like a monk, it is simply not sustainable to say “I’m never going out drinking again,” and your enjoyment of and enthusiasm for training will be greatly increased by rewarding yourself with the finer things in life occasionally.
6. Push yourself: to build muscle or burn fat you need to ensure you are actually progressing through your training sessions. Simply going through the motions or “getting through it” is not actually going to lead to long term gains. Even if you add an extra kilo to the bar, or perform one more rep than the previous session, then you are moving on the right direction and over a longer time period you will see big results. Try to keep a training diary of exactly what you are doing in each session as that way you will have a clear record of whether you are actually progressing.