It’s that time of year again. Where we are counting the days until summer and bikini season, and panicking because our bodies are way way way not ready for either.

This is also the time of year when most New Year resolution makers, who at midnight on January 1st of this year claimed THIS is the year they will finally get in shape, start falling off the wagon. It’s a great time to go to the gym. Up until last week the gym was packed with newbies running on YOUR treadmill, swimming in YOUR pool lane, taking up space in YOUR class. Go on back. Those classes are empty once again. There may be a couple new faces, but for the most part the band-wagoneers have all jumped off.

This is the best time of year to start fitness challenges. I am working on my own Conservation Fitness challenge, but it’s always a great idea to check out others for ideas and inspiration. There are plenty of short jump start type programs getting off the ground, like the program I just joined, Best Self. Online there are dozens of websites to help give you tools for a more successful fitness challenge, like MyFitnessPal and Nerd Fitness. Not mention the plethora of books from Biggest Loser and Whole30.

I joined a Best Self challenge that starts this Monday and goes through Lenten season to Easter. That’s pretty good timing considering I am finishing up Whole30 and am trying a long reintroduction period, which should take me all the way through Best Self.

Trying to balance a healthy diet while tackling cravings is difficult. Going through a challenge with others is much more supportive and encouraging.

If you want to reinvigorate your resolution, or get a jump start on get bikini season ready, check out some of the challenges I mentioned here, or go to the library and check out Whole30 or Biggest Loser guides. You can also go online here are a few websites and blogs for motivation.

Body Rock: Body Rock is an online fitness program with several packages to sell for nutrition and exercise. Go to bodyrock.tv to look at their products. Periodically they will offer exceptional discounts on some of their packages. I was able to try their nutrition and meal plan guide by downloading it for only $19.99 a little over a year ago. It was very comprehensive, but it was a little give and take as far as taste was concerned. Some of their meals were absolutely insane and delicious. Others were fairly blah and lacking taste. But they include shopping lists, recipes, and meal plan for a full 31 days, and as I said, it’s pretty comprehensive. If you are looking for someone to tell you specifically what to eat and when to eat it, this is a great plan for you. I will admit I totally modeled my Conservation Fitness nutrition guide after this model, but just changed out the recipes to make my meal plan a bit more eco-friendly.

In addition to workouts and meal plans, Body Rock also sells their own type of workout equipment.  I have never tried their workout toys, like their weighted vests and what they call their Challenger Bar, but I will admit to be highly tempted. The weighted vest is something I am in the works for developing on my own for Conservation Fitness’s Reuse, Recycle, Reduce Your Waist. The challenger bars are proving to be much more difficult. But they are just a little too steep in price for my taste. They would be perfect for someone’s at home gym and most of their equipment is completely portable, for those who like to work out on the go.

 

Beachbody: Okay, I can’t really decide for certain if Beachbody is the devil or not. I mean, their products are PHENOMENAL. Shakeology is THE BEST meal replacement/nutrition shake on the market, hands down. No other protein supplement shake comes remotely close to them in flavor, effectiveness, and environmental practices. Believe me, I’ve tried most of them out there. Beachbody is also the company which produced the P90X, PiYo, and Insanity workouts. If you’ve heard of these workouts, you may be starting to agree with me. Is Beachbody the devil or not? I myself have the PiYo workout DVDs, and they are so much better than yoga. They are short, intense, and if done regularly, they are quite effective.

So, Beachbody has an addictive food product the likes of heroin, and insane workouts you can do from the convenience of your own home. Why on earth would you call them the devil? Because they are perfectly designed to drain your bank account. You will be hooked on Shakeology and will fork out the $100 each month a bag of the meal replacement costs. You will enjoy your first workout and shell out another $150 or whatever the next big workout program costs. You will be poor and destitute, but you will be in the best shape of your lives, so you know, priorities.

Nerd Fitness: I want you all to know I am incredibly pissed off I didn’t hear about Nerd Fitness until last year. I’m really pissed about that. Because Nerd Fitness is everything I want ZooFit to be. You know that meme going around “Who would you like to have dinner with or spend a day with?” It’s Steve Kamb, founder of Nerd Fitness and author of his life changing book Level Up Your Life.

Nerd Fitness has many opportunities to take your money, I mean, assist you in meeting your fitness goals. I don’t have a problem with them making money off their programs. Hell, if I can get ZooFit off the ground and make it well known, I would be making money from it. But it would be nice to have a free nerdy community getting fit together.

I did try Rising Heroes last year for a trial period. If I wasn’t fully invested in ZooFit and writing my books, I would join for real and have fun playing games with other nerdy misfits while getting in shape.

 

MyFitnessPal: What I really love about MyFitnessPal is it’s completely free. Sure, you can upgrade the app to the Premium (as with all free apps), but I have been using MyFitnessPal for almost four years now, and have never felt I’m missing out on anything because I don’t have the Premium upgrade.

MyFitnessPal is more than just a food logging application on your computer or smart phone. They send regular posts to your email about fitness tips, recipes, and fitness news relating to sleep, hydration, and recovery. I think of MyFitnessPal as kind of like the Buzzfeed of Fitness. Short blog posts, quick videos, fun little blurbs to get you motivated and inspired.

 

JenReviews: If you want to stock your home with only the best of everything for nutrition, equipment, and everything in-between, give jenreviews.com a viewing. While there is reviews for non-fitness related items such as kitchen gadgets, travel tips, and best resources for cleaning, the site has extensive reviews on healthy foods and fitness fads based on science reviews. They have an entire column dedicated to health news with guides for vegan eating, pilates, and more.

As far as free online resources go, JenReviews is a little bit of a hidden gem. Which makes it an even more incredible find.

 

Whole30: Oh, Whole30. I am actually dedicating a whole blog for my Whole30 experiences, so this will be a quick blurb to give you the resources you need. If you are considering doing the Whole30 program, a couple things to keep in mind.

First, I highly encourage people to try out Whole30. I think for a large majority of people, it will help tremendously cut sugar cravings, and help revaluate your relationship with food.

Second, check out Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s book It Starts With Food.You can get it at the library, you don’t have to go out and buy it. You can also check out the Whole30 Program Guide, which will help you get set-up, give you a great schedule and what to expect, and even a plethora of recipes to try out while you are doing the program. There are a dozen other books related to Whole30, but I don’t think they are completely necessary.

Third, keep in mind to fully complete Whole30 with the reintroduction period, you will need more than thirty days. For a fast pace reintroduction, it’s about another 10-15 days after Whole30. I only say this because some of us may intend to do Whole30 a month before our wedding, or big vacation, and they don’t account for the reintroduction period and it actually ends badly for them.

But Whole30 is very organized. They have a great website complete with a Forum so you can talk to other participants, ask questions, and find an absolute shit-ton of resources.

My review of Whole30 is going to be a little different from others’ experience with the program, and I hope whatever I share doesn’t deter anyone from trying it.

 

What resources do you all use for staying motivated when the going gets tough?