Knowledge is the key to staying in shape

January 2, 2016

Q. For many years I’ve struggled to stay in shape, but it’s not as if I haven’t made an effort. I’ve tried gyms, exercise classes, diets and even hired personal trainers, but the result is always the same. I get in good shape for a while, and then I fall back into my old habits. I’m not trying to blame anyone for my inconsistency, but I just want to find a system that works for me instead of endlessly sliding back and forth between feeling unhealthy and feeling good about myself. Any suggestions?

A. As the old proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I believe the same idea rings true when it comes to learning how to stay in shape. If you constantly choose short-term solutions, guess what? Your results will be just as fleeting. If you take the time to change your lifestyle through knowledge, you’ll have a much greater chance for success.

You see, fitness isn’t just about losing weight, crash dieting or doing gimmicky programs, but rather learning how your body responds best to food and exercise. Remember, getting healthy is a journey that shouldn’t end as soon as you reach your goals. Instead, it should evolve into new and better ways to incorporate fitness into your everyday life.

Eating healthy for short periods of time is not good enough; learn how your body responds best to rules that boost your metabolism. Take the time to research good-tasting, healthy recipes and make these things part of your routine so you can continue to eat right every day and not just because you want to drop a few pounds.

Don’t just go to the gym to sweat and burn calories; consult with a professional to learn how to create a workout that's right for you. Building muscle and losing fat can help your body burn an additional 50 calories daily even when you don’t work out. With some practice, you’ll be able to make your own programs and change them when needed instead of relying on someone else to do it for you.

Change your lifestyle to suit your fitness level. Once you’re in shape there is a whole new world of possibilities that come with the new body you created. Don’t let it go to waste sitting around on the couch watching TV. Choose activities that will keep you moving, like running, walking, hiking or playing your favorite sport. Staying active will allow you to use the muscles you worked so hard to achieve and appreciate being in better health.

Don’t let your routine get stagnant; continue to read and keep up with the latest research on fitness. Magazines like Oxygen, Muscle and Fitness, and Men’s Health are great ways to stay in the loop for the latest trends. Use the new information and ideas to help you improve your workouts and constantly try new things to keep them interesting.

So if you're hungry to stay in shape, feed yourself with knowledge instead of short-term solutions, and you’ll be much more likely to live a fitness lifestyle.

Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out for training tips, news and inspirational stories.


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