Laird’s Guide to Getting Back in Shape

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Photograph by Ture Lillegraven

1. Make it fun.
Doing something you enjoy will disguise the fact that you're working out. This way, you're not getting back into shape – you're hiking, biking, or skiing. Imagine riding a stationary bike at the gym for three hours: You'll be looking at that thing after 40 minutes and thinking, "How long is this going to take?" But take a three-hour bike ride through the country with a buddy, and three hours will go by like nothing. Learning a new sport mentally distracts you, too. I'm not talking about learning golf or ping-pong, obviously, but taking up an active sport like road cycling, surfing, skiing, or snowboarding. These sports will make it easy for you to put the effort in, which is the exact opposite of the gym, where most people have to fight to keep going.

2. Emphasize what you can eat – not what you can't.
It takes more discipline to eat healthy than it does to work out. We stick food in our face all day, every day, with absolutely no effort, which is why changing your diet is tough. But instead of thinking about what you can't eat, focus on what you can: all the vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. The more variety, the better – people get stuck in nutritional ruts because they eat the same stuff every day. Just as variety is important to your exercise routine, the more diversity in your diet, the healthier you'll be. Start every morning with a smoothie. I like mine with almond milk, protein powder, green vegetables, berries, a banana, and supplements like bee pollen and fish oil. It's filling, easily digestible, and packed with nutrients, so it's a great foundation for the day ahead. I also eat a meal with protein, like a veggie omelet, within an hour after exercise to prevent muscle catabolization. It's essential to eat after exercise.

3. You're going to be sore but don't wallow in it.

I'm sore all the time! And while it's natural to want to spend the day sitting when you're sore, doing so can cause muscles to lock up – it's like concrete setting. Instead, go for a walk or do a light cardio workout to get your blood flowing, which will repair muscle adhesions that cause pain. Have a massage, take a hot shower, or sit in a bath with Epsom salts. I also take the supplement Wobenzym for inflammation, and I use menthol sprays like Herbal Cool and creams with arnica – a flower with anti-­inflammatory properties.

4. Don't go it alone.
There's nothing like calling up a buddy and saying, "Hey, are you sore?" – and he says, "Oh, man, I'm sore." "Me, too. You wanna go again?" It gets lonely by yourself, but you have camaraderie and companionship when you work out with a partner, friend, or in an area where other people are exercising, too. It also helps to set a goal, whether that's a 10K road race or a 100K bike. Then you have a destination and someone to make the journey with.

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