It’s been a year since the last time this happened.  Seems like just yesterday, doesn’t it?  The familiar glimmer of hope that a New Year brings.  As always, we dutifully promise that this year will be different than the last.  So, we do what all ambitious people do; we make resolutions and set goals.  They probably involve getting in shape and getting healthy.  A very worthy cause.  It was probably easy to make such a large commitment in the moment considering the gluttony that typically surrounds the holidays.  This may have become a perennial commitment for you now.  A few years back, you maybe even gave it one hell of a go for a couple months.  You felt great, you felt healthy.  You felt the way we’re supposed to feel all the time: vibrant, full of energy, happy.  You were just starting to carve these new habits into your lifestyle.  Then, for whatever reason, you slipped up.  You took a day off and…….the world didn’t end.  Once you realized that, you took more days off, sometimes a full week at a time.  Shortly, your energy was gone, you weren’t as happy.  Finding the time to go exercise or cook yourself a healthy meal became an overwhelming task with all the other stressors in your life.

I get it.  I’ve been there plenty of times.  The real world is freakin’ ridiculous.  Of course I would love to take care of my body, but there’s so much going on, I can barely keep up, much less make time for myself.  It’s an easy excuse to make.  Because it’s true.  It’s hard as hell to take care of your self and body these days.  But it matters.  And you know it.  It matters because the habits you form now will affect your future.  Investing time in yourself now will give you a quality of life that no amount of money can buy.  Seriously.  It matters because those of you who have children or plan to will pass along your habits to them.  It won’t matter what you say.  Only setting an example of health will be passed along.  Or, your family can end up like Honey Boo-Boo’s.  Just let that image rattle around in your brain.

Now the idea of making your change only at New Year’s is obviously a little ridiculous.  It falls into the same logic as, ‘I can’t start my workout and diet plan on a Thursday!  It’s gotta be Monday, it’s JUST GOTTA!’  This train of thought is so powerful though, that I’m not even gonna try to battle with it.  So with that, I’m going to provide you with a plan that will have you all set to change your life forever starting right now, in the New Year.  One of the bonuses here, is that it should be a bit easier to recruit a partner to go through this with you.  Having a workout partner will make you more accountable, fosters a healthy competitive environment, and provides someone who understands exactly what you’re going through when things get tough or you hit a plateau.  The fastest I’ve ever progressed with my strength and conditioning is when I was training with a friend, even though we only actually met up once a week.  Fitness is fair, and because of that, we knew that the person who got stronger each week was the one who was working harder.  Simple as that.

Change is tough, and when it comes to our own body, we’re very subjective about our results.  What we need to make sure that we’re making real progress is objective information.  This comes in the form of measurements that you’ll need to take sometime this week.  This isn’t optional.  It’s absolutely necessary.  If you do everything right, I guarantee the tracking of these numbers will get you through the tough times.

So task number 1: Take all of the following stats.  I would get a notebook specifically dedicated to tracking your workouts and body stats.  Nutrition should be tracked separately.  All of this should be doable within 24 hours unless you don”t have a convenient way to track your body fat %.  

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Stats to track

- Date

- Photos of self - entire body. Front, sides, and back.

- Weight (take this in the morning, after going to the bathroom.  This will give you the most consistent readings)

- Body Fat % (If you have a gym membership  they should be able to measure your BF% with either a hand-held device or caliper test.  If you don’t have a gym membership, or aren’t comfortable with someone doing a caliper test on you, you can always buy your own hand-held model.  The cheapest models cost around $65. ( http://www.performbetter.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product1_10151_10751_1004179_-1 ) These models are incredibly easy to use and share with multiple people.  If you’re going into this with a group, and I suggest you do, this turns into a really affordable investment.  There are many other ways to test your body fat, but these are the cheapest and most available options.

- Resting Heart Rate (also a measurement to take in the morning, first thing when you wake up.  Take these 3 days in a row to get your average.  All you need is the finger on neck/wrist technique to get this reading.)

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So that’s it for right now.  I want you to get pumped up, but not overwhelmed.  All I’m asking so far is for you to track some basic information and consider what it would be like to have the athletic, lean body you know is inside you.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss setting goals and how to make sure that you follow the S.M.A.R.T. protocol for goal setting.

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