We often think of extravagant resolutions. We want new bodies, new careers, new significant others, all kinds of life altering hopes and dreams poured into a sentence or two. If you’re in the “go big or go home” camp, you need to start making sure you’ve got all the stuff you need, specifically the gear to achieve such lofty goals! I can’t help you with the new job or the new beau, but I can help with the new bod. Here’s my checklist of stuff you should have as 2011 kicks off.
A plan: You can’t just say, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds” and then show up at the gym and look hopeful. You need to know how you’re going to get there: how much cardio, how much weight training, how much, erm, how little food! You can follow a structured plan like Weight Watchers or you can pick up a fitness book and follow along with that.
Journal: You can use a spreadsheet or a blog, you can try a moleskin journal or a notebook that’s just laying around, but keep track of what you’re doing. It’ll keep you honest and it’ll show you progress over time which can be really helpful for staying motivated.
Good staples: You need a good, solid pair of sneakers that’s appropriate for your activity choices. Ladies, you need a good sports bra or two. You need good sports socks (throw out the disgusting ratty ones) and you need to make sure you have the right layers. Windbreakers and fleece for outdoor stuff, bike shorts for spinning or biking, capris or shorts for hot yoga. Check with your chosen fitness professional if you need specific guidance.
Workout buddies: You can find ’em at the gym, or you can find a willing friend on her own health kick. You can even try online partners where you find a friend and report back to each other on how you did. This can be loose, like asking someone you know on Twitter or Facebook, or it can be very organized, such as the fitness groups on sites like the Daily Mile. Being responsible to someone will hold you accountable and make you more likely to stick to your plan.
A backup plan: A major snowstorm hits and you’re trapped at home with the kids, or your boss kept you late and you missed your group exercise class, or you get to the gym and realize you forgot your sneakers (I hate it when I do that!). Stuff like this happens all the time! Plan to have a backup workout you can do to at least keep you heading in the right direction. A fitness DVD you can pop in, a quickie 20 minute calisthenic routine, or a route around the neighborhood that will work for a quick run. Whatever works best for your environment, figure out a backup plan (or two).
Nice To Haves (links go to Amazon Affiliate)
Heart rate monitor: A heart rate monitor will keep you honest during your workout. They can be a little pricey; cheap ones start around $60 and you can go super fancy up into the $200s. The bells and whistles will include memory to track the workouts on your HRM watch and ability to download into programs. I recommend people just get the basic ones and journal their results.
Movement tracker: The basic one is a pedometer, a cooler one is the Gruve, and a super fancy version is the bodybugg. They all track your movement throughout the day. I’ve used them all (full disclosure, I got the Gruve for free) and I have to say I like the Gruve the best. I was a bodybugg fan for a long time; it gives you a TON of data which is great except I was getting a little over-obsessed about the numbers (which is bad). The Gruve looks a lot like a pedometer except it has a little light instead of a step count. The light progresses from red to yellow to green throughout the day. When you hit green, you’ve hit your movement activity for the day. Both the bodybugg and the Gruve have robust online programs where you can download all your info and track it. Check both out to see which one you prefer.
Gymboss: This little guy is a timer. You can set it to do interval training, so it’ll beep or vibrate say every two minutes (for a cardio burst) and then beep again after three minutes (a lower cardio push for recovery). You completely control the timer and can apply it to weight training or cardio. I find it particularly handy when I’m spinning. It’s only $20 and it doesn’t let you cheat.
Scale/tape measure/pair of jeans: You need something to measure your progress. It can be the scale, a favorite pair of jeans or outfit you’d like to wear, or a tape measure. It can be all three things or you can skip them all. I had a big debate about putting this in the “Necessities” section, but I know some people can really stress over numbers. If that’s you, then definitely skip this option. For me a combo of my jeans and the scale keep me motivated, but it’s an entirely personal decision.
Free weights/bands/medicine balls: You might want to have some weights at home. They could be part of your overall plan A or they could be part of the backup plan. Check to see that your bands aren’t dried out (they can break or even snap in your face) and that you have the right weights for what you’re hoping to achieve. A starter set for women is three, five and eight pounds. A starter set for guys is five, eight, and ten pounds. If you’re stronger, go up from there. Medicine balls can be fun to play with and are good to incorporate into ab workouts. Consider them a toy to change things up and keep you interested.
You’ll notice I didn’t put kettlebells on the list. There’s a reason. Most people don’t do them right and they can easily lead to injury. If you’re thinking of getting some, make sure you find a qualified person to show you how to do it right. I don’t even want you to learn from a video. It should really be a pro who is specifically certified in kettlebells, NOT just a personal trainer who “picked it up” at the gym. I see kettlebells done wrong ALL the time.
I’ve given you a lot of options here. What do you think? Would you add anything to the list? What would you take out? Feel free to share your tips and secrets so we can all learn from them.
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