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Fitness focus: how to keep your 2018 wellness goals on-track

Whew, we made it through the first month of 2018. It’s time to (hopefully) say farewell to the gloomiest of days but also evaluate which "new year, new you" schemes are thriving and which need a bit of restructuring.

Whew, we made it through the first month of 2018. It’s time to (hopefully) say farewell to the gloomiest of days but also evaluate which "new year, new you" schemes are thriving and which need a bit of restructuring. Let’s face it, it’s challenging to develop healthy habits and in order to succeed we need the right tools, especially when it comes to physical activity. To keep us on the right track, we asked fitness expert and RYU community connector, Connor Mahannah, for guidance on how to integrate exercise and nutrition into our lives as well as some strategies for slimming down and bulking up.

Starting a new fitness routine can be overwhelming. How can we ease it into our lives?

Connor Mahannah: Start with your schedule. You need to make time for yourself and your fitness goals otherwise life will get in the way and you’ll start to feel overwhelmed when things aren’t organized. Start with as many times a week as you’re comfortable with (recommendation: 2-3 hours/week). Also, share your new goals: with friends, family or even better, a fitness partner. The people around you can help you stay accountable to your goals (but only if they know they exist!). Sharing the journey with someone you trust and enjoy spending time with, is a great way to keep each other going. Start a two-person run club that meets weekly and you’ll be less likely to leave them hanging!

What are some of your favourite HIIT exercises?

CM: HIIT is an acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. So pretty much any exercise can be done in this format. However, as you increase the intensity of your workload, the volume or weight that you use is typically less (think body weight). My favourite HIIT routine includes jump squats (plyometrics or explosive movements definitely ups the ante on the intensity scale, so start with regular squats or simply add a calf-raise at the top of your squat by getting up on your toes), mountain climbers and bicycle crunches. Or, try a TABATA set: 20 seconds on with 10 seconds rest between each exercise (8 sets or rounds in total).

Can you recommend a few nutritional rules we can follow to ensure our results stick around?

CM: Nutritional advice should always be as specific to the individual as possible, so consulting a Registered Holistic Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor is a great first step. Your nutrition will always be a major factor in hitting your specific goals, so consult a professional for best results. If you want to keep it simple, keep it smart: reduce empty calories such as pop and alcohol (yes those Happy Hour dates add up) and double down on your vegetables and whole foods that pack a high density nutritional punch. There’s a reason your mom always said to finish your veggies! Finally, be prepared. Just like organizing and scheduling your new fitness routine will help you stick with it, planning ahead with your meals will prevent you from choosing food on-the-go where you might not always have the best options. Meal prepping for 2-3 days in advance will take the guesswork out of “what’s for lunch” during your day.

Any fitness trends we can expect for 2018?

CM: Group classes have been exploding all across the fitness industry. If there’s something unique that you want to try, odds are you can find a class out there. Indoor rowing such as Club Row in Vancouver (think SoulCycle on a rowing machine) or a variety of mixed boxing/kickboxing classes have been popping up all over. Anything with the lights down and the music up to get your mind focused on the beat instead of the “beating” you’re putting your body through.

What are your top tips for bulking up?

CM: First, dial your nutrition. See a nutritionist, upping your caloric intake, figure out your optimal protein intake, etc. Second, commit to a program. Don’t program-hop if you’re training solo. Commit to one and stick it out to the end to see the results (asking a trainer to build you a program can really help). Third, workout in the proper "rep range". Hypertrophy results don’t happen by lifting weights randomly.

How about tips for slimming down?

CM: I suggest following the 80/20 rule, which put plainly, means you choose to eat healthy foods 80 per cent of the time and that allows you to indulge in your favourite treats 20 per cent of the time. In other words, dial your nutrition (because it’s the most important for both). Then, find activities you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to run on a treadmill if you prefer training outdoors. Make it enjoyable and it won’t occur as “work”. Finally, train smart to burn fat; I like HIIT + LSD (High Intensity Interval Training + Long Slow Distance) for this purpose.