You may have read her articles in The Commercial Appeal, or perhaps seen her blowing by on a 50-mile trail run. In addition to (what seems like) supernatural energy and a wealth of health and nutrition knowledge, personal trainer Gee Loeb Sharp has a knack for making sense of the daunting fitness quest for everyone, no matter their fitness level. Gee’s fitness philosophy: “I believe everyone should be the best and strongest version of themselves as possible. Overall fitness conditioning isn’t about the masses, it’s about the individual … Safety, hard work and a healthy dose of laughter come with each session.”
If your 2014 resolution to get fit is wavering, or you have spotted signs of spring (which means shorts and bathing suits are coming onto the scene!) then Gee’s pep talk for getting started or back on track should raise your spirits and arouse your inner athlete for being the best you that you can be.
Personal trainer Gee Loeb Sharp:
1. Be realistic in your goal setting.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your new and improved body be. If you aim for too lofty a goal, you will most likely derail yourself before you make any progress at all.
2. Nothing changes ’til something changes.
Get a workout buddy or a trainer this time. If you have made a commitment, then you are more likely to feel accountable. Nothing changes ’til something changes, so do something differently in your fitness planning this time.
3. Find a workout routine that is fun.
If the first thing you try doesn’t suit you, try something else. There are countless types of exercise groups and classes offered these days, from hot yoga to kickboxing, from Pure Barre to Zumba, from weight lifting to boot camp, Pilates to CrossFit, and the list goes on ad infinitum. Swimming, horseback riding, basketball leagues, trail running, biking, tennis, and, and, and … If it’s fun and entertaining, you are much more likely to continue.
4. Commit before you spend.
Don’t buy a billion dollars worth of equipment before you commit mentally to whatever you choose.
5. Choose a time that works for your schedule.
Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to get up at 4:45 to make that 5:30 a.m. spin class before work? If not, then choose the after work class. If you are totally spent by 5:00 p.m., then choose the morning slot. If neither works, then toss your tennis shoes in your car and walk/run at lunch time. You really have to work hard to come up with an excuse that NO time works. Something will fit for you if you are serious about the plan.
6. Progress and not perfection.
I have stolen this phrase but it works. Don’t say you can’t do something because you can’t do it like the instructor or your best friend who has been doing it for 20 years. If you try something once, then you have made progress, and it’s better than never having done it. Next is to try it a second time and then a third and so on. If you miss a day, the world doesn’t end, and your progress hasn’t dissolved overnight. Get back on board and don’t shame yourself for being human. No one else can do the work for you.
7. If you get a trainer, find one you like.
Don’t get someone who scares you to death or one who makes you feel inadequate. Find a trainer who you can understand and who understands you. Communicate and give feedback. A trainer can’t help you if you aren’t honest with them, so after figuring out how to be honest with yourself, translate that to your trainer. The two of you can keep it secret from there, but you two need to be on the same page.
8. Exercise alone is NOT going to get you where you want to go.
Accept this hard, cruel fact. It has GOT TO BE A COMBINATION OF DIET AND EXERCISE. This stinks, I know, but it is true, especially if you are over 40 and your metabolism has slowed down. I always tell my clients that when I turned 40, I insisted, even to my doctor, that my thyroid gland was broken because I had gained several pounds without having decreased my admittedly stringent exercise routine. The doctor set me straight: My metabolism was slowing down with age. So despite my 50 miles a week trail running, three days a week in the gym and two days a week swimming, I was still gaining weight, and the only thing to do was cut my calorie consumption and quit thinking that life was unfair. It is what it is, and I was forced to acknowledge the truth.
At 48, I still LOVE to eat, but I’m honest with myself about the consequences. I often recommend that clients use a food journal to make an honest assessment of the calories they are taking in because calories add up, sadly, quickly! Ask your trainer or doctor about a realistic calorie intake for you.
9. Don’t starve yourself.
Holy smokes, I get tired of hearing about all the fad diets. If you can’t find a diet modification that you can keep for a lifetime, then it isn’t going to work. There are a million diets that work, until you quit working them, and how many of those dang things are realistic for the long term? It’s not good for your body to deprive yourself, only to gorge later. I hate the word myself and struggle with it mightily, but “moderate.” Have a balanced diet that includes protein, fresh fruits and vegetables and even starches, but the right kind of starches. There are nutritionists in town that can help you with your specific needs, but a trainer should be able to make suggestions even though your trainer is not likely a certified nutritionist.
(My interest in nutrition dates back to having an over-the-top, healthy mother. Our pantry could have fed birds and aliens more easily than humans when I was growing up. Thank God for the nearby Krystal!)
10. H2O never goes out of style.
I know it’s old stuff, but drink lots of water. I carry a Nalgene bottle around all day. I fill it up at home in the morning and then once more during the day. A nutritionist once told me to drink one ounce of water per two pounds of body weight, so if I am 140 pounds (and, yes, thank you very much, I AM 140 pounds), then I should drink 70 ounces of water a day, and more when I’m exercising. I absolutely believe that artificial sweeteners make you crave carbs (which I think are the primary offenders of my gut when I’m bad), so sugar-free drinks can be dangerous (and we all know that artificial anything is terrible for you anyway). Of course, watch the sugar drinks too for the amount of calories they hold.
This isn’t a virtual situation. Coming up with a plan is step one, but then you have to DO IT. Action is required for the good results to come. Don’t say something doesn’t work if you only try it for a week and then quit, or if you try it for six months but don’t really give an effort while there and skip it altogether half the time. Don’t delude yourself that you are working when you aren’t. If you want to fit into your clothes and still breathe, or have someone in the checkout line at the grocery tell you that your arms look fabulous, then DO IT.
DO THE WORK. It’s so worth it. You are so worth it!
Thank you, Gee!
For more fitness advice mixed with a healthy dose of laughter, Gee can be contacted through Inbalance Fitness. The Inbalance facility in Cooper-Young is a trainer-only gym, and the larger Harbor Town location has a staff of trainers plus group classes.