By Joanna Lohman
Professional Soccer Player
Ah, the new year. That dreaded time when we all sit back and reflect on what we really want to accomplish in the coming months, knowing full well that it will quickly be forgotten.
If getting in shape is your goal, however, do not despair.
You can eat better, and exercise more. So let’s dust off that sit-up machine that has been sitting in the corner of your bedroom, and get to work!
1. Forget the diet fads, and overnight results. To lose weight and keep it off, you must make a dedicated lifestyle change. The Atkins diet is not the long-term solution to fight the flab. It is merely a quick fix. Sure, you may lose 10 pounds in two weeks, but the chances of keeping it off are slim to—more likely—none.
Every person who aspires to get healthy must make the conscious choice to alter their day-to-day activities to be in alignment with their end goals. That means incorporating exercise and a balanced diet with healthy portion sizes as the norm, not the exception. There are no secret formulas and at this point, no excuses for not knowing what it takes to get fit. As Americans, we are inundated with nutritional information, so use it to your advantage. It’s simple. Burn more calories than you consume. Period.
2. Weigh in. Numbers do not lie. Make the scale your friend. Weigh yourself on a regular basis in a consistent manner. This will help you track your progress and keep you on the right path to a healthy life. Having to face the numbers is the only way you can accurately measure the success of your efforts.
3. Eat breakfast. You may think that skipping this critical meal will eventually put you ahead of the weight-loss game, but it won’t. Eating when you wake up will actually speed up your metabolism and help you fight the cravings later on in the day. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and if you embrace this concept, you will have a much easier time reaching your healthy goals.
4. Make your home active. Be honest. When you get home from a long day of work, the last thing you really want to do is go to the gym. The way to solve this inertia issue is to make your workout equipment highly accessible. Whenever possible, get the actual equipment in your home. It is so much easier to walk downstairs than it is to get in your car and drive to the gym. Plus, this may be a more comfortable set-up that allows for quick, hard workouts in shorter time periods. Incorporating a fitness program into your life does not have to be an all-consuming effort, and it does not have to take hours-upon-hours. It can be as simple as jumping on a treadmill in your basement and/or doing push-ups in your living room. Bottom line: make exercise fit into your normal life; don’t try to fit your normal life into your exercise. Sustainability is key.
5. Be resourceful. As a professional athlete who travels around the world for business and leisure, let me tell you, the exercise set-up is not always “ideal.” There are times where you have to be resourceful to feel the burn. A lot of equipment is portable. For example, resistance bands and even your own body weight. As I said above, there really isn’t any excuse for not lacing up your running shoes and going for a walk or a run. Stop at a local park and do push-ups, sit-ups, and the many exercises that require maximum exertion just to lift your own body weight. Give me two bars and I can show you about 10 different activities that will get you sweating. It’s not rocket-science, but it does take some creativity.
6. Switch it up. The common theme in all of these tips is to build a workout program that has long-term sustainability. That means you have to make it fun. When necessary take the program inside, but do as much as you can in the great outdoors. Play team sports, go hiking, recruit a friend to play tennis. Adapt the program to suit your needs, your interests, and your hobbies. Getting and staying fit does not mean you have to go the sweaty gym every morning at 5 a.m. and bore yourself to death on the elliptical. Put the laptops, iPads, and iPhones down and get some fresh air. It will do you a world of good.
About Joanna Lohman
Professional soccer player Joanna Lohman has played in the WUSA Festivals in both Minneapolis and Los Angeles in 2004, and was a member of the 2005 Freedom Reserves. She trained with USWNT during the 2004 Olympic Residency Training Camp and was a member of U21 US national team from 2000-2005, captaining the squad from 2003-2004. She helped lead her U21 team to three Nordic Cup championships, earning MVP honors in 2002.
In college at Penn State, she scored 19 goals and had six assists her senior season, finishing her career at No. 5 in all-time goals scored (41), No. 2 in assists (37), No. 4 in points (114) and No. 1 in scoring game-winning goals (8).
Among other honors, she was named Pennsylvania’s NCAA Woman of the Year in 2004, was a two-time M.A.C. Hermann Trophy finalist (2002-2003), a two-time Honda Sports Award Finalist (2002-2003), and a finalist for the Collegiate Women’s Sports Award for Women’s Soccer in 2003.
Originally from Washington, DC, Lohman currently lives outside Philadelphia and plays for the Philadelphia Independence soccer team.