You may think that exercising and eating healthier are going to give you that strong back and hot body you’ve always dreamed of having. While this is true in theory there are a lot of mistakes people make when they begin a new exercise and diet regimen that can derail their success and cause them to lose hope and interest. Here are a few vital things everyone should know in order to reach their fitness goals.
You have to work hard on yourself
I see people at the gym every day that are just going through the motions. They walk the treadmill at a snail’s pace or seem more interested in the latest Cosmo than working the elliptical. In order for your workout to work, you have to work! Everyone has days where they’re just thankful they made it to the gym but if you’re there you might as well make it count. As Emeril would say, kick it up a notch and make every minute count.
Weights are important
In order to increase your muscle mass and burn fat you must lift weights. That doesn’t mean you need to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you need to weight train. It also means you need to increase the amount you’re lifting when it becomes too easy. If you stay at the same weight for a long period of time you will plateau and your muscle mass won’t increase. Ladies, you are not going to become the next muscle mag queen either. Large bulky muscles are really only possible with large amounts of testosterone. Unless you’re borrowing your mate’s patch or shooting it up, it ain’t gonna happen. By increasing your weights you will gain muscle, lose fat and feel better.
The smart and safe use of supplements
Supplements such as protein bars, powders and vitamins/herbs are great but you need to educate yourself so you don’t “abuse” them-and your pocketbook. Read the nutritional labels and make sure you choose bars and powders that don’t have a ton of sugar and calories. There are a lot of great brands to choose from now, but if you buy the wrong brand you might as well eat a milkshake or a candy bar. For the average person it’s not necessary to buy a bunch of different pills and supplements that promise you’ll lose weight and many other things they cannot possibly prove. It’s a big waste of your money as long as you’re eating a healthy diet and exercising 4-6 times a week.
Don’t use your new exercise plan as an excuse to eat and drink whatever you want. Generally most people begin a healthier lifestyle because they need to lose fat and/or to deal with health issues. Working out is not a blanket excuse to chow down as many fries and slices of pizza you want. That doesn’t mean you can never eat those foods again, just that you need to practice moderation and choose more healthy foods on a daily basis. Otherwise you will sabotage yourself and lose confidence that you can lose weight and be healthier. Remember that you must always burn more calories than you ingest. Most people don’t realize exactly how much they eat every day until they write it down. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a food log for a week to see exactly how much you eat. Then you can adjust your diet to the proper amount of calories.
I’ll never forget one night I was in the locker room and a girl was scarfing down a bunch of chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. She guiltily told me that she hadn’t eaten for hours and was starving. I didn’t say anything at the time, but that was probably the worst thing she could have done. Let me deconstruct.
- First of all the choice was rock bottom for a pre-workout meal. Nuggets are fried and the sauces are sugar laden nightmares.
- Secondly, she was eating minutes before her workout.
- Thirdly, she was eating way too fast. Her digestive system was going to be at war with her muscles, lungs, and everything else you need for a good workout. I’m sure she probably felt nauseous during that session.
When you eat the majority of your blood heads to your stomach to help digest. When you exercise your blood needs to flow quickly throughout your body in order to reach the muscles and lungs. Not a good combination. However it’s not just that she was eating chicken nuggets. Eating anything right before a workout is not a good idea. Make sure if you have to eat before exercise for whatever reason that it’s at least a half hour, and ideally an hour or two before.
You need proper form
Bad form is also a great derailer. When you lift weights without knowing the proper form not only can you hurt yourself but you decrease the effectiveness of the exercise dramatically. One example is performing a squat. When done correctly it is one of the most powerfully effective muscle builders for your back. You utilize your whole body with an emphasis on your most powerful muscles; your back, core, glutes, and legs. When you do it wrong, which I see often, you stress your back, neck, shoulders, hamstrings, and knees. I advise anyone who wants to begin weight training to make sure they know how to execute proper form so that they can avoid injury and achieve maximum results.
Don’t be afraid of weights
One of the biggest roadblocks to a good workout is fear. I have seen many people afraid to lift weights because they are intimidated by the stereotype of the typical bodybuilder. In my experience most people in the gym are helpful, friendly, and courteous. Yes there are a few who have bad hygiene and macho attitudes but they are not the status quo, unless you actually belong to one of those “musclehead” gyms. Be confident and courteous, always put away your equipment and use the disinfectant sprays. Nobody is going to give you a hard time or wonder what you’re doing there.
Don’t be afraid to try new classes, new cardio and weight machines or other fitness experiences outside the gym and your own comfort zone. Only by truly engaging yourself in your workout can you reach your goals and make it part of your lifestyle and not a chore to get through. Because once you’re in a rut, it’s time to roll out and find a new zone.