Almost everyone commits to finally getting serious about that at the start of a new year. Lainey Greer is the group fitness coordinator at the Health and Recreation Center at Southern Seminary and Ph.D. student in systematic theology, and she has 15 years of experience working as a physical trainer and personal nutritionist. In an interview with Towers, she suggested a few ways you can get serious about your fitness level. If you want to follow through on your resolution in 2018, these nine tips are a great place to start.
1 Don’t look for a quick fix
You won’t solve all your eating habits or body composition overnight, Greer says. Commit to a lifestyle of healthy eating and a balanced, consistent workout regimen to get the results you want. “We don’t grow in spiritual discipline overnight. It’s the same thing with physical discipline,” she says.
2 Find a program that fits your goals
Greer recommends three to four days of cardio training and two to three days of strength training as a simple, general program for those starting out. Make slight changes from that based on your goals. For cardio, interval training (interspersing your workout with brief rest or recovery periods throughout) gets the best results. For lifting, focus on whole-body movements.
3 Be balanced
Dudes: You have legs too. Don’t just train your chest and biceps. Ladies: “spot reduction” is not a thing. You can’t do 100 crunches and get six-pack abs — diet and nutrition does that.
4 Watch your form
Squatting and deadlifting is great, Greer says, but make sure you’re doing it right. “Right” means proper depth on the squat (no deeper than at or just below parallel) and a flat back and firm gut on the deadlift. Don’t heel-strike or run on your toes. Stop hyperextending (a reverse arch in your spine…think about it like lifting your sacrum to the back of your head) on the back extension machine — especially with weights in your arms.
5 Don’t overdo it
Overtraining is a real problem, and one that only keeps you from progress. Greer recommends having friends hold you accountable in your life balance. Here’s a hint: If you feel the overwhelming need to exercise every time you eat something “bad,” Greer says you might be idolizing your fitness.
6 Fight for an accurate image of yourself
Body image problems are systemic in American culture and common to both genders. For the most part, women feel pressure to be thin while men want to be “swole.” In both cases, their standard of attractiveness comes more from Instagram than Scripture, according to Greer. “There are different body types — be okay with how the Lord made you. Don’t have unrealistic expectations,” she says. Seek to honor the Lord with how you use your body (1 Cor 9:24-27) and eat food (1 Cor 10:31).
7 Eat protein, limit sugar
Greer suggests some basic standards for good nutrition: Drink an ounce of water for every half-pound of bodyweight (so, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water), eat colorful vegetables, eat less than 30 grams of sugar, eat whole grains, don’t eat a bunch of processed foods, don’t drink your calories. Girls especially need to eat more protein, Greer says (fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, lentils). It won’t hurt for very active people to aim for one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day.
8 Stick with it
Changing programs every other week is a great way to not make progress. The most basic regimen followed precisely is far superior to a more complex method you follow inconsistently. Don’t miss workouts, improve a little bit every time, and save the complicated stuff for next year.
9 Pick a class
You don’t have to go it alone. Southern Seminary’s Health and Rec Center offers several free group fitness classes, from pilates and Zumba to kickboxing and jiu-jitsu. Busy moms can try out Momma Fit, a class designed specifically for them. You can also push yourself in SBTS Crossfit for a monthly fee. Greer also provides free nutrition assessments (reach her at email@example.com).