This past year, 2020, was a challenging year maintaining my fitness goals. Since I use bike races as my targets to get in shape and stay in shape, the cancellation of races all over the country left me to train with no goals. As I write this month’s column, I am carrying an extra five pounds. I’m not quite at racing weight to toe the starting line of any race. My three favorites — donuts, brownies, and beer — didn’t help much either. Now that we have just begun the second full week of the new year, halleluiah, I thought it would be fitting to give you some evidence-based helpful hints to maintaining fitness throughout the new year.
Fit people typically do the following
• They make fitness fun. This factor is the absolute most crucial factor in exercising and staying consistent for the long haul. It would be best if you wanted to do it, even feel excited to do it every day. It shouldn’t matter if it’s 35 degrees and raining or 100 degrees and sunny. You get excited and do your workout.
• They don’t diet. Don’t starve yourself. It would help if you had calories when exercising. Make sure the number of calories burned throughout the day is less than consumed. When I train hard for a race, I have noticed that I eat healthier because my body craves good nutrition. Maybe just one donut.
• They still eat the foods they love. Keeping those celebratory treats in moderation is key here. Don’t shame yourself for having that second piece of cake.
• They focus on adding to their diet, not restricting. This could be adding more vegetables, water, or more movement into your day. The tools that track your steps and activity are great for measuring this piece of fitness. Remember, if it’s walking on your favorite trail, do it in any weather. I find that the occasional ride in inclement weather is refreshing and quite rewarding when finished.
• They set goals throughout the year. Don’t train for one event because once it’s over, you’ll likely stop working out. I like bike racing. I race road, mountain, gravel, and cyclocross. By mid-January, the state and national calendars are posted. I will spend a few days planning and registering for a dozen or so races through July. Then I do the same routine in late spring for the rest of the year. I typically get in 20-25 races a year in four different disciplines.
• They train and socialize with friends that have similar goals. I have found a whole group of friends that love bike racing. Our local team, Body Logic Physical Therapy / Sierra Express Racing Team (Body Logic / SERT), is a mix of your local physicians, dentists, attorneys, business owners, teachers, NUHS mountain bike racers, and moms and dads. We all motivate each other all year long. I train with riders faster than me to keep me working hard on every ride, which isn’t hard to do in my case. I am regularly the slowest rider on any group ride, which doesn’t bother me a bit.
• They have a consistent workout plan and variability every day of the week. The cross fitters have their work out of the day (WOD) that is posted on the gym board. They mix it up to keep muscle groups working differently and focusing on different elements of the specific exercises. They have significant variability and consistency. I ride six days a week, regardless of the weather. Many of my planned workouts are indoor stationary bike workouts. My set up in the garage is dialed-in perfectly. I have a fan, towels, water bottles, and the TV in front of me, so I can watch bike racing on the screen while I am grinding out a prescribed workout. I have hundreds of hours of recorded racing. This happens in any weather and usually in the afternoon or evening. I am not a morning guy. My variability in my fitness is adding in Pilates. This keeps me flexible and healthy while working on my weaknesses. Yoga, Thai Chi, Qi Gong are other examples of exercise regimes that have proven benefits in health and wellness.
• They exercise at the same time every day. I see my neighbor every morning at 6:15 a.m. running down the road as I fetch my newspaper. He is consistent, and his metronome of exercise timing keeps him fit. It also lets me know if I am running behind when I don’t see him while reading the Union’s headlines.
• They make fitness a lifestyle. Fit people understand that it’s a mind/body connection to staying healthy. People who exercise daily have fewer health problems, take fewer medications, deal with stress better, and have fewer mental health issues.
I hope you can find your routine, do it daily, in any weather, and look forward to sharing your successes with family and friends. Track those goals and celebrate your accomplishments. Now that I got that off my chest, I think it’s time for a donut.
John Seivert is a doctor of physical therapy and he has been practicing for 34 years. He opened Body Logic Physical Therapy in Grass Valley in 2001. He has been educating physical therapists since 1986. Contact him at bodylogic2011@ yahoo.com.