As Summer Ends, Shape-up Begins

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By Ismay Parker, Certified Personal Trainer at Team Speed Colorado- Centennial
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The end of summer is near and vacations are winding up. A new school year is starting, work is calling and, for many of us, it is time to get back into the swing of everyday life. During this time of year people often realize that over the summer some of their conditioning has been lost and some unwanted weight has been gained. Since kids are returning to school, the end of summer is a great time to get back into shape and shed the pounds that have crept on over the past few months.

A conditioning and weight loss (CWL) program is a great way to help a person get back into shape in a short period of time. The body is challenged physically and mentally while it is cultivated nutritionally, giving most people better results than diet alone. A well designed post-summer CWL program can help one prepare for fall and winter and the additional weight gain associated with the coming Holiday season.

When starting a conditioning weight loss program it is wise to set reasonable goals. If there are any health issues, it is important to talk to a doctor or health professional before starting any exercise or nutritional program. If one does not know how to set goals or needs more reinforcement, qualified personal trainers can also be helpful.

After the goals have been set, a person needs to decide on a reasonable time period within which the goals will be reached and how much time per week will be committed. Other considerations are:  What are the most enjoyable activities that are going to enable the person to reach those goals? What actions need to be taken to ensure success?

Planning, documenting and breaking down big goals into bite size pieces gives the process more clarity. This way, it is easier to hold oneself accountable for results and foresee and overcome weaknesses.

Next, it is time to create a plan that will result in reaching the goals in the designated time frame.  Here is an example of how to break down big goals into little goals: A goal to lose 12 pounds in 8 weeks can be broken up into a smaller goal to lose 1-2 pounds a week. Keep in mind that results will depend heavily on the type, time, intensity and frequency of training and nutritional adjustments.

A healthy person can prepare for a 10K walk, run or walk-run in a 8-10 week training program even if they have to start with one mile. Strengthening the body through resistance training should also be part of conditioning the body. Including weight training helps to strengthen not only the muscular structures, but also strengthens the bone structures of the body. Together with smart nutritional choices, a program like this can improve a person’s condition and help shed pounds significantly in just two months.

To measure progress it is important to exactly know where one starts. This is done by creating and documenting a base line from the current condition, weight, height and lifestyle of the person. It is important to consider what time, frequency and intensity levels are currently spent on exercise-like activities. Log all food consumption for one week prior to starting the program to see where caloric and nutritional intake may need to be changed. This includes all liquids and solids. If it goes through your mouth, it needs to be logged.

Documenting daily activity and weekly results will allow one to keep track of all progress or lack thereof. If help is needed, most gyms have trainers who can help establish a base line, give nutritional advice and develop a plan or program.

In setting oneself up for success, it is important to understand and accept that an effective CWL program will regularly take a person out of his or her comfort zone. After all, that is where most improvement takes place. Success of a CWL program depends heavily on the level of commitment, goals, effective planning and discipline. Discipline is crucial to the success of any challenge and represents mental training. Pushing through limits and developing endurance and perseverance are character builders. Complete conditioning is more than physical exercise -- it is conditioning the body and all it encompasses.

Even for active adults, a post summer shape-up is a good thing. No matter how fit a person is, there is always room for improvement. The comforts of modern life have made a large part of the general population lazy and dependent on convenience. If we make the effort and take the time and money to fine-tune our cars and our other worldly possessions, how can we not preserve and fine tune the body and mind regularly? It is the cheapest way to fundamental quality of life.

Quality of life starts with good health and good health begins with movement/exercise and proper nutrition. A healthy, strong body and mind are priceless personal possessions. When thinking about what truly matters in life, consider this: No matter how much money or material possessions a person has, how can anyone fully enjoy these things with an overweight, feeble or aching body?

For more information on base line testing and CWL program design, contact Ismay Parker at IsmayParker@aol.com

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