May is always an interesting time for me. It’s a month of celebrations, endings, and promises of new beginnings. It’s also a pre-cursor to summer. The time when we count down the weeks till summer.

If you have plans on going to the beach and vacationing during the summer, this is also the month when you wonder how comfortable you’ll feel in a bikini, swim trunks, shorts, tank top, sleeveless dress, and summer dress.

Did you make that change you promised yourself at the beginning of the year? If you haven’t, don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are two common things I find in many people: 1) the ability to procrastinate, and 2) the ability to talk yourself out of something.

When it comes to exercise, the first thing is to move. If you’re not working out at a gym, start walking. Increase your time and distance week to week. Start walking around your neighborhood or near your workplace during your work day. Increase that distance to walking a trail and then increase that exercise to walking that trail multiple times. No matter where you are in walking goals, the most important thing is to keep moving.

If you’re working out in a gym, then now is the time to evaluate exactly what you’re doing, and what kind of success, if any, you’re getting. There are many ways to work out in a gym: HIIT (high intensity interval training), circuit training, plyometric training, four-to-five-day splits, or simply using a fitness class schedule for your workouts.

To know what’s best for you, it is wise to meet with a personal trainer, discuss your history, your goals, and your time frame. If you don’t have a time frame, a personal trainer can help you create one. I’ve often found over the years that people tend to work a little harder when they have a deadline, even one that’s simply created for the goal.

You can’t expect miracles and you do have to exercise patience, but it will be worth it. You also have to take a leap of faith and stay in that lane. If you constantly second guess yourself or your trainer or coach, you’re setting up yourself to fail. It never works. It’s like serving two masters. You just end up frustrating yourself and making what should be a smooth process complicated and unsustainable.

With a time frame, or a goal date, it’s best to also have a nutrition plan. There are many diets and ways to eat. Add to that, foods you’re allergic to, don’t eat, or can’t eat for various reasons, as well as your body type, and you’ll quickly find that the eating part may need some assistance.

My personal preference is to work with a personal trainer, who is also well versed in nutrition, and has a proven success rate. If that’s not possible, then getting some guidance from a nutritionist, in addition to your training with your coach, can be an alternative.

Ensure you’re including aerobic activity with muscle resistance training in any of the exercise programs that you’re doing for body fat loss. Whether it’s walking, jogging, running on a treadmill, or biking on a stationary bike, or exercising on an arc trainer, it can all assist with the goals.

The main ingredient to everything is consistency. As long as you remain consistent, positive, and determined, you will continue to move forward and have success. Set up small goals week to week and keep your eyes on the prize. With changes to your body, look more for loss in inches, rather than weight on a scale. Proper training will lead to changes in our body’s composition of lean muscle versus body fat. If you have clothes that no longer fit you, you can use some of those clothes as goals met as you lose inches and are able to fit in them again.

Pictured with this column is my client Justin in a moment of contemplation, which perfectly describes the month of May. In addition to the things previously mentioned about May, I find many men and women in thought on how they’re going to get where they want to physically by summer. It could be the family or friend getting married in June, or the family vacation that’s planned for July, or an event in August, or some combination of these things, but looking good for these life events can be an obsession. Events become additions to the family album; the same album, material or digital, that is shared with generations of family and friends for many years to come.

When you’re faced with a short time frame, I find it best to look at the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. You’re more likely to work harder, and you’re very likely to learn a lot about your body, what works and what doesn’t work, and you’ll learn valuable things that will serve you well in the future.

Everyone has their own reasons for looking their best during the summer months. Working towards that goal is something everyone shares. In the words of Khalil Gibran, “Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.”

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact me at www.michaelroyshaw.com/contact or at the Snap Fitness in Middletown (302) 376-6969.

Michael Shaw is a certified master fitness trainer and sports performance nutrition specialist with Above and Beyond Physiques, owner of Shaw Fitness LLC, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, and a fitness and fashion model manager. You can schedule to meet him at Snap Fitness in Middletown or reach him at www.michaelroyshaw.com.