Every year at this time, students get out of the habits instilled by school like regularly scheduled activities and moving around every day. Even if they are not involved in sports, students do burn calories during a busy day of classes and extra-curricular activities. Here is some guidance for your students or own kids on getting them to set achievable fitness goals before school starts again.
Think of it as Summer Fitness School! These are just some basics on training for fitness and health. I have kids of my own and work with high school students, and I agree – kids need a plan, but most importantly they need some goals.
The goal making process is easy. Ask the student about a fitness goal. These will range from aesthetics to performance. Some will want to bench-press their body weight, others will want to fit into last year's clothes and lose fat around their mid-section, and some may want to be able to run a mile without stopping. Whatever their personal goal is, let them run with it. It will likely be the thing that gets them moving when they do not feel like moving. Make them write down their goal on a sheet of paper and place it somewhere in their room or even on the refrigerator.
Need an idea? Here is mine. My goal is to stop extra grazing in between meals, so when I think I am hungry, I drink a glass of water or iced tea and my hunger is reduced. It turns out I'm usually just thirsty.
Better Eating Habits
Many people drop significant weight when they replace any sugary drink like soda, juices, and energy drinks, with water. If they need caffeine, opt for unsweetened iced tea instead of the high-calorie products on the market these days. Plus, you can make your own tea for pennies and save some money too. Eating fruits as snacks and not candy and chips will go a long way to helping students reach their goals over the summer. Hopefully, if you can stick to the plan, the new habits will benefit you for the rest of the year with sports and other activities as well as become a life-long habit for fitness and health. Here are some ideas for food planning to help you either lose weight or have more energy for performance based goals and hard training:
Lean Down Plan – Eating from this list will help you reduce empty calories, increase more nutrient calories rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and good carbs and fats.
Eating for Fitness – Need more energy before, during, and after workouts? This is a great way to think about what types of foods are helpful and when to eat them. The ABD's of Nutrition (After / Before / During Workouts) is something to consider.
Create Daily Fitness Habits
Even if your daily activity is a 10-15 minute walk after each meal, that is a legitimate way to build healthful habits. Here is more specific guidance however on how to put it all together for an all-round approach to health, fitness, and achieving goals:
Here is a plan for those who are overweight, need to lose a few pounds before attempting a running plan, and need guidance on where to get started. The 45 Day Plan has been helping people for decades to lose 15-20 pounds in a very short time, and it only requires 20-30 minutes a day of exercise. Nothing in this is strenuous, but it is all effective. It also has a motivational story included about a man who loses 80lbs and changes his life. He started with this plan.
Need to Stay in Shape
If you are in a Fall Sport program, chances are your coach will have you training throughout the summer. If not, you need to stay fit and get stronger depending on the sport you'll start in early August.
If you are not involved in any sport, maybe your fitness in the summer can change that and give you the ability and confidence to try out. Or if sports are not your thing –ANYONE can get fit. You do not have to be an athlete to be able to run, lift, do calisthenics, or other activities. Here is a plan for those who are basically fit BUT need a little more guidance to push over the edge.
NOTE – If you want to do another workout or two during each week, pick your favorite and repeat it after a day off or easy cardio day.
As with any goal, the key is to start moving today. Do not put it off until tomorrow. In fact, you can use this quote from General George S. Patton as motivation:
"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."
Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). There are also over 800 articles on Military.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.