Whether this January marks your first time at Gold's or your 400th, learn to gracefully handle the New Year's gym crunch with this handy guide.» read more
As you start on this 12-week journey, it's essential to have a good plan of attack, so we consulted Gold's Gym Fitness Institute experts Adam Friedman and Robert Reames to develop a road map that can be your trusty guide (along with your trainer).
NEED MORE INSPIRATION?
STORIES OF STRENGTH
No matter how tough the circumstances, the numbers on the scale or everyday stress, these members changed their lives through smart nutrition and daily exercise—and so can you. Here are their inspiring stories:
Going from a wheelchair to the winner's circle... Six years ago, Dave Roberts was in a motorcycle accident that left him in a wheelchair—his back was broken, his left arm shattered and his short-term memory destroyed. But Roberts was determined to get his life back. While he was housebound, he did laps around his living room and turned his stairs into his personal cardio machine. Once he could make it back to a Gold's Gym, he set his sights on becoming a professional bodybuilder. Three months later, he competed in a statewide competition and won first place in his age group. Interviewed about his incredible recovery and victory by Performance Press magazine, Roberts said, "I feel as if I am somebody again, and that is a fantastic feeling!" His remarkable journey won him the title of Gold's Gym Most Inspirational Member for 2011.
Saying good-bye to "fat clothes" forever... For most of her adult life, Angie Berry tried every fad diet and fitness program she came across to "get skinny," yet the pounds kept piling on, to the point that even walking became uncomfortable. "Finally, I changed my mind-set," she recalls. "I realized there are no quick fixes. I found out good nutrition and exercise were the answer." After following a plan that included healthy eating and regular workouts at Gold's Gym, Berry went from a size 20 to a size 8—and cleaned out her closet. "Before this, I always held on to my fat clothes in case I gained the weight back," she says. "This time I gave them all away because this is a lifestyle change."
Putting down the junk for the funk... After her father died two years ago, LaDonna Bramwell filled the void with junk food. She'd packed on 60 pounds when she decided to sign up for the 2011 Gold's Gym Challenge—which she won. In 12 weeks, she lost 55 pounds and found a healthy way to honor her dad's memory. "My mom, two sisters and I all did Zumba class together," Bramwell says. "Since my father loved dancing, I feel like he's right there, shaking his booty beside me." Not to mention, her dancing moves helped her win $25,000 and the overall women's title.
Stopping the yo-yo cycle... Dwayne Schultz watched the numbers on the scale go up and down as he got married and divorced, and then remarried and divorced again. "I would use get-thin-quick methods to get a girl," he explains. "Then I would become complacent and gain weight." The third time was the charm: "I wanted my third marriage to work out, plus we had children and I wanted be a good example." So when the scale hit 500 pounds, he pledged to lose the weight, but this time he set realistic exercise goals and followed simple diet guidelines, such as drinking eight glasses of water daily. "I want my kids to see how to live a healthy lifestyle, so they won't struggle like Daddy did," Schultz adds.
Trading television for a toned body... For 20 years, Christine Clark blamed her busy schedule for her bulging waistline, but now the lawyer and mother of two knows better. She lost 100 pounds and dropped seven sizes, from an 18 to a 4, by turning off the TV and getting on a treadmill. "When you sit down at night to watch, it becomes easy to eat," she notes. Clark traded the remote control for a Kindle, which made her look forward to her Gold's Gym cardio sessions. "If you spent an hour watching television last night, then you could have spent an hour working out," she explains. "It isn't really about time; it's about making your health a priority."
Beating diabetes by checking off the boxes... In 2009, Tim Reece, suffering from diabetes and asthma, was hospitalized four times. He was on medication for those conditions as well as for high blood pressure, and he weighed 390 pounds. "I knew I had to lose 200 pounds, but it just seemed overwhelming," he remembers. So Reece came up with a plan: He created a chart marked with 20 boxes and joined a Gold's Gym. "Whenever I lost 10 pounds, I put a sticker in a box, and it just made my day every time." At first he walked slowly on a treadmill, but thanks to his trainer and his determination, he now runs five miles a day. "I checked off 18 in 16 months!" exclaims Reece. "When that thing is filled I'm going to frame it."
Whether or not you are signing on to the Gold's Gym 12-Week Challenge, you can jump-start a healthier life by following this checklist. With the help of Gold's Gym Fitness Institute experts Adam Friedman and Robert Reames, we developed the week-by-week list to help you stay on track to meet your fitness and diet goals. "But you don't have to follow each of these tips one week at a time," Friedman says. "Opting to incorporate tips from future weeks sooner in the process could yield faster results and increase your likelihood of winning a share of the $75,000 Gold's Gym Challenge prize pool."
GET MEASURED: Go to your local Gold's Gym to get your vitals down on paper, and be sure to bring along shorts (men) or a bathing suit (women) for your "before" photo. It will help inspire you to get in shape and keep the momentum going.
CREATE A WORKOUT SCHEDULE: One of the biggest excuses for skipping workouts is a busy schedule. To make sure that doesn't stop you, get out a calendar and create a typical weekly schedule that includes everything from work hours and child-care responsibilities to your favorite leisure-time activities, then figure out where a daily workout can fit in. Also, look at where you can add in an "emergency" make-up day, in case a meeting runs later than planned or a babysitter calls in sick.
Any iPhone users can download the Gold's Gym Spotter app, which lets you set up a goal countdown, take progress photos as you go, learn exercises and more.
PLOT YOUR DIET STRATEGY: Now that your goals are clear and you've created a gym schedule, it's time to focus on food. While exercise can kick-start weight loss, studies have shown that a proper diet is essential to dropping a lot of pounds—and keeping them off! Start by writing a three-day food diary. In it, record everything you eat (even that one doughnut hole you grabbed in a morning meeting). If your cell phone has a camera, snap photos of each meal to add to your diary. Then meet with a trainer or nutritionist to devise a weekly meal plan schedule. This should include:
• Times you are going to eat each meal:
Also, be sure to schedule grocery store trips at times when you won't be tired or hungry—shopping on an empty stomach can sometimes make you grab a high-calorie treat that isn't part of your diet plan. In addition, vary your menu by stopping at a farmers' market for fresh produce or stocking up at a local fish market.
FOCUS ON REST AND RECOVERY: Getting eight hours of sleep each night is a must because your body burns fat more efficiently when it is well rested. And while it's important to crank up your fitness routine, make sure to give your muscles a break by scheduling recovery days when you either skip the gym or do a low-impact workout. In just a few days, you might notice that more shut-eye and your new fitness regimen will actually help decrease the amount of stress you feel on a day-to-day basis and increase your energy levels.
If you need help getting a good night's rest, this article might help.
INCREASE INTENSITY: You've got a great amount of momentum right now! You are about to have a full month of fitness under your (hopefully looser) belt. Now you're ready to kick up the intensity on your cardio routine. Treadmill fanatics should add incline to a walk or run, elliptical devotees can take the resistance up a notch, and bikers should add a 30-second sprint every five minutes. And talk to your trainer about how to measure your maximal heart rate so you can know whether your blood is pumping at full steam.
NUTRITION DO'S AND DON'TS: If you haven't already adopted these diet tricks in your daily routine, this is the time to start. Here are six rules of thumb:
MIDPOINT CHECK-IN: You're halfway through your 12-week challenge. This is when you should look at the goals you set at the start of the competition and assess your level of success. Think about getting remeasured by your trainer, and ask yourself these questions:
• Am I on track to accomplish the goals I set at the beginning?
SWITCH IT UP: Now that you've established a gym routine, consider trying some new activities. For example, swap out a treadmill session for a spin class, try a TGX class or add yoga to your workout schedule one day a week. (To find classes at your local Gold's, check here.) Varying exercises can stimulate muscle groups and keep you from getting bored.
AMP UP YOUR METABOLISM: As you cruise into the final month of the challenge, it's time to put your metabolism into high gear. A better metabolism means you will burn more calories throughout the day (even when you're just sitting around) and will help you drop pounds faster. Here are three ways to crank it up:
1: Break up your meal plan and eat five small dishes a day.
TALK WITH A TRAINER: Is there anything else you could be doing to get the most of the last month of the challenge? Set up a meeting with a trainer to go over your workout routines, diet plan and goals. Ask if there are new moves or group classes you should try that could add to your progress. There isn't much time left to take advantage of your competititve edge.
MOTIVATION CHECK-IN: Congrats! You're almost to the finish line. Don't lose steam now—try these motivating tools to rev up your resolve:
• Create a Buzz: Tell your friends, family and coworkers how much weight you've lost, tweet it to your followers, post it on Facebook. Hearing "Congratulations!" will keep you getting back on the treadmill.
WRITE A LETTER FROM YOUR OLD SELF: When you look in the mirror now, you probably do a double take. What would your old self have to say about that new body? Writing down those feelings of pride and accomplishment will help remind you why you decided to join the Gold's Gym Challenge and keep you focused during the last two weeks. Put the letter somewhere that you can see it every day—a sock drawer or jewelry box—as a reminder of why you decided to get in shape and live a healthy life.
GIVE YOURSELF A HIGH FIVE: You did it! Now get over to that scale and see what a rock star you are. Doesn't it feel great? These past 12 weeks weren't easy, but the payoff is worth it. A healthier body brings with it more energy, confidence and a determination to stay fit. You have written your very own "Story of Strength," and we applaud you! Just remember: "This is a kick start for the rest of your life," Robert Reames says. You need to plan for the future. Sit down with your trainer to discuss how you can maintain your new body, then talk to your family and friends about your future fitness goals and how they can join in or support you. Think about signing up for a triathlon or a 10K race—keeping your competitive spirit alive can help you stay on track.