Name: Jen Jewell
Occupation: Personal Trainer, Cellucor Athlete, fitness model and fitness writer
We all know how it goes: January 1 appears and we're suddenly swept up in ultra-disciplined dieting principles and extreme dedication to the gym—at least for a couple days. The problem with an extremely rigid approach is that, alas, it usually doesn't last very long.
I did follow the short-term, hardcore approach for years. In January, I'd begin strong and adhere to a super rigid strategy regarding my fitness goals. Inevitably, I would burn out within a week or two. I was so intent on one goal (typically fat loss) that I neglected to consider a number of other essentials that make a person holistically fit and healthy.
I had to learn that fitness is not just about carving a bikini booty, it's about building a strong body and mind. It's about being able to approach health in a more sustainable way.
You won't hit your fitness goals overnight, and you'll have an especially difficult journey if you use an all-or-nothing approach.
This year, hit your 2015 fitness goals with a healthy and happy attitude. Here are five ways to embrace balance and find sustainable, viable ways to build your best self!
Try something new
Have you been eyeing a class or throwing around the idea of a experimenting with a new fitness activity? Now's the time to try it! Last year, I finally decided to try hot yoga, and I am glad I did. It complements my weight training and is a fun addition to my fitness regimen.
Of course these new classes or activities shouldn't replace your weight-training workouts, but always keep your options open and attempt to add more variety to your workouts. Try CrossFit, do a powerlifting program, join a running club, go to a barre class, or do anything that piques your interest—the choices are endless.
Find what you like, get outside of your comfort zone, and work it!
Join a new gym
You may be surprised by what a change of venue can do for your fitness. Most of us like familiarity and routine, but sometimes these habits lead to complacency. Be honest with yourself and assess your gym behavior.
Have you become the social butterfly at the gym, chatting everyone up between sets? Do you find yourself using the same machines, performing the same exercises, and sometimes just going through the motions of your routine? If so, it may be time to scope out some new gyms in your neighborhood.
A new scene, a variety of new equipment, and a change of location may be just what you need to relight that fire and kick-start your fitness this year.
Vary your diet
Lack of variety in your meals can eventually lead to boredom. When you're bored with your food, it's much easier to grab those not-so-good choices and forget why you're eating chicken and broccoli in the first place.
This year, don't allow yourself to get stuck in a rut. Have other meats like fish and lean steak instead of just chicken. Instead of packing steamed broccoli into your Tupperware again, add seasonal options like squash in the fall or asparagus in the summer along with your go-to choices. Meal plans that are rich in variety are easier to follow, and produce better results.
You don't have to be a French-trained chef to experiment in the kitchen and try new recipes. There are tons of healthy and ridiculously simple recipes out there that anyone can make!
Eat dessert, enjoy the burger!
You may think I've lost my mind, but hear me out. Eliminating all of your favorite meals or desserts from your nutrition plan can be a recipe for disaster. Trust me, I've been there, done that, and ended up knee-deep in brownies after a month of constraint.
I'm not suggesting that you forget lean protein sources and have a burger for dinner every night, but I am suggesting that you allow for some flexibility. If you cut out processed foods and excess sugar, and eat lean proteins, whole grains, heart-healthy fats, and fruits and veggies, then enjoying your favorites once in a while won't throw you off track.
A rigid meal plan may work for some people, but for most people—myself included—it's not the most realistic plan.
Activities can be way more fun when you have a partner. So grab a friend and schedule a fitness play date! Doing something completely out of the box, even just once a month, can help spice up your regimen and help you beat boredom.
This year alone, my friends and I have done a trapeze class, hot yoga, an indoor rock climbing class, horseback riding, and more.
Fitness adventures hold me accountable to my number one fitness rule: Always have fun!