Results – we’ve come to expect them. In this culture of instant gratification, we demand instant results from our diets and fitness routines. When we don’t see immediate change, we get demotivated and give up.
The reality is that there is no quick fix: extra pounds and high cholesterol won’t disappear with a week at the gym and a month on Atkins, at least not permanently. The problems we see are merely effects of a larger problem – bad habits.
Recognizing these habits is the first step to getting motivated and getting healthy. Just ask Anthony C.
26, Upper East Side, New York City
What types of workouts are you into?
Weightlifting and biking, but really anything that makes me feel my heart beat through my chest.
Was there an obstacle you had to overcome before getting really into fitness?
My obstacle was the 25 years I spent with a horrible diet and bad habits. I was the fat, uncoordinated kid, so as I grew up I tried to avoid doing anything physical in the effort to save face in front of my peers. Couple that with the fact that I couldn’t eat anything healthy without gagging, and it’s the perfect storm for bad knees and man-boobs.
What finally got you doing it?
The day I started I was walking home from work on a very humid summer evening. I was sweating hard, my stomach was in knots from an unhealthy lunch, my knees and lower back ached, and a girl I had asked out had blown me off yet again. The universe was trying to tell me something and I decided to listen. I walked into the gym I passed everyday, and within the hour I was deep into my first personal training session.
What keeps you doing it?
First of all, I know I’m not going to wake up one morning and look into a mirror and say, “Oh awesome, I’m thin and super hot now! Finally, I can cancel my gym membership!” Working out and eating well are a huge part of my life, and I can only reach and maintain my goals by staying healthy. In a way, I’ve become addicted to the feelings you get from working out; the sense of accomplishment after finishing a particularly hard set, and the soreness that comes afterward. Soreness is reassurance; it lets me know I’m working hard enough.
What gets you out the door to the gym / to train on a crappy day?
I won’t beat myself up if I miss a couple days, but I know that if I stop pushing myself, I’ll stop seeing results. Henry Rollins wrote a really great essay called “The Iron” that talks about training and how it relates to life. If I’m feeling particularly lazy I give it a read and it never ceases to motivate me.
How do you keep it fun?
The worst part of my training was cardio days, because treadmills and Arc Trainers were so boring! I recently bought a bike and now I’m spending less time in the gym and burning more calories than I ever was on a machine. I put in 13 miles every day on my commute to work, and now my weekends are filled with adventures exploring the city. It’s amazing how small New York can seem when you’re on a bike.
What advice do you have to help people stay on track?
People focus way too much on the beginning and the end of their goals. “Oh, diet starts Monday!” or “This week I’m going to hit the gym hard.” Goals that are this broad are easy to miss. Every meal, every block of free time, every moment is a battle. Focus on all things big and small you can change at this moment and (ugh) just do it. Once you start, it’ll be hard to stop.
Anthony nailed it. He recognized that the extra weight wasn’t his problem – it was his bad habits. He committed himself to a healthier lifestyle and making healthier choices and continues to see progress in his health and fitness everyday.
So make a habit of taking the stairs instead of the escalator and choosing brown rice over white rice – and see lasting positive results. If you truly commit yourself to change, you will see change. Anthony is proof.
Ben Waldman is a writer, advertising art director, social media consultant and marathoner. Born in Queens and raised in NJ, Ben now lives in Manhattan, and can be seen almost daily running along the Central Park Loop, along the rivers and through the streets. He is tightly connected to the New York fitness community through his blog and on Twitter.