As it’s January and people like to start and stop new habits for their New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would list a few bad fitness habits that we should all stop doing.
These are things that will hinder your results, leave you frustrated, or just flat out annoy everyone around you.
1. Stop comparing yourself to your favorite Instagram Selfie Guru
Here’s some home truths that will hopefully make you feel a bit better about your current physique.
– These people are professionals. It is literally their job to go to the gym and be in shape. They don’t work long hours in stressful offices, have screaming kids waking them up, or attend dinner parties full of rich food.
– Half of the girls have had plastic surgery and a lot of the guys are on steroids. No amount of training or discipline will catch up to that.
– They’re probably not happy. People in the fitness industry are some of the most insecure people around. When you define yourself and your value solely on your body, it is very easy to feel bad when you’re a bit bloated, your muscles look flat, or that cute chick in the gym didn’t check your biceps out.
– This amazing lifestyle and perfect photo? They got dressed up and did their makeup, simply to take the photo. They can’t actually afford to be there. They took 300 photos and scuttled home to choose the best one to see the light of day on Instagram.
2. Stop doing cardio before lifting
You do not ‘burn fat and then tone up’. That is not a thing. You burn fat by manipulating your metabolism. The best way to do this? Lift weights.
Doing cardio is just wasting energy (physical and mental) that will detract from your proper workout. Do cardio after lifting, or separately.
3. Stop eating dry chicken and soggy broccoli
You can get in shape without being this strict. In fact, you can get in shape without being utterly miserable at all!
You should eat clean, but there’s clean and then there is just stupid. Frankly, being too strict and one-dimensional isn’t healthy anyway. You’re missing out variety in your diet to get a full complement of nutrients.
Not to mention there is a 100% chance that you will binge eat on the weekend if you’re too strict during the week. You know this happens, and you know that you eat about 5000 calories in 2 hours on a Saturday night. Why not just split an extra 2000 calories over the week, enjoy your food a little, and not have the binge?
Bonus! You’re much nicer to be around when you will eat normal food. You can eat with family and friends, go to a restaurant or grab lunch on the go without flipping out. Trust me, I’ve fallen into this trap. People like you more when you have some degree of normality to your eating habits.
4. Stop leaving your weights all over the floor
If everyone put all of their weights away, they would all be 3.6% lower body fat from exerting all that additional energy.
Seriously, it’s not hard to put your weights back. I know it frustrates you when you can’t find the second of a pair of dumbbells because it’s scattered on the floor somewhere in a far flung corner of the gym. Why do that to other people?
It’s disrespectful to the gym and everyone else who uses it. You will always find that the biggest, strongest, most experienced guys are respectful of their surroundings and keep the place tidy. Maybe there’s a lesson there?
5. Stop looking for validation on social media
Here’s a novel concept. You can go to the gym…without checking in to tell everyone on social media that you are going to the gym.
I promise you, it still works. Your body doesn’t revolt at lack of social validation and refuse to grow fitter.
Really, why are you going to the gym? I’m sure you started because you want to make some internal changes to your body, your mindset and the way you perceive yourself. Don’t lose sight of that and just go through the motions to be someone who ‘works out’ but never gets anywhere because it’s just for show.
Real validation will come naturally, when you’re in great shape. People can’t help but look at you, give you respect and desire you. You don’t need to tell everyone you go to the gym. It is immediately obvious, just by looking at you.
6. Stop making excuses
You can make excuses or you can make progress. Choose one.
You must play the cards that you are dealt and make the best of the situation.
If you’re busy, someone else is busier than you and still putting work in at the gym.
If you’re naturally skinny/fat and fighting your genetics, someone else is genetically worse off than you and still putting work in at the gym.
If you’re intimidated, someone else is more intimidated and still putting work in at the gym.
Realign with why you want to workout in the first place and find a way to make it work. it might not be perfect. Results might be slow and you might have to work twice as hard as the next person for the same outcome. So what? You can do the work and achieve something, or you can stay exactly where you are right now. Which do you choose?
I don’t usually do negative-oriented posts, so I thought I would mix it up with a little rant. These are some pet-peeves of mine, some as a fitness professional and some just as an avid gym user.
I get to experience gym culture on both sides – being and interacting with people who love the gym and see it as a core part of their identity, and also helping people who don’t like the gym, are unhappy with their body and desperately want to change it. I can empathize with each.
If everyone stopped doing these 6 things, I think we would all be a lot better off.
We all wish getting in shape was easy, simple and fun at every stage.
Unfortunately, that is unlikely to be the case. We’re going to look at 4 truths about fitness that people do not want to hear – but need to.
You need to know the reality of the situation, to know what you are trying to do and what it’s going to take. This empowers you. It gives you control of your situation.
Control to direct the outcomes of your life.
Hiding away from reality might feel better at the time, but it is sabotaging your long term happiness.
A little sacrifice now will create the life that you want in the future.
Here’s the 4 truths about fitness you don’t want to hear, but need to embrace to successfully achieve the body you dream of.
1. It takes time
Rome was not built in a day, as they say.
While you can make significant changes to your body quickly, if you are fully committed and dedicated, the reality is that your body reflects your long term behaviour.
You don’t get fat in 2 weeks, and nor do you get in shape in 2 weeks.
If you’ve been eating fattening foods, not exercising, not sleeping properly and highly stressed for years or even decades, you cannot expect to undo all of that in days or weeks.
It will take at least months.
You will make some progress quickly, but to fully reverse, it is going to take time.
The way that you look, feel and perform is reflective of your long term behaviours. You need to make a long term commitment to eating right, exercising, sleeping and managing stress if you want to optimize your health and the way you look.
We all want fast results, and it is possible to see changes quickly – there is nothing wrong with that. Getting fast results is not the same as only being committed for the short term. If you can implement a plan that gets you quick results and sustain it then go ahead.
Results in the short term can act as positive reference and motivation to keep going. There is nothing as encouraging as seeing results.
2. There’s no magic pill or routine
Most people would admit this when asked. You know that if your friend was asking for advice, you would tell them to put in the time, stick with it and do the work.
Yet, we still want to believe that we are different. We have an edge and that there is a program, supplement, food or routine out there that will give us fast and easy results for little effort.
The marketing of many supplements, and fad diets is responsible for this, where they promise the world when you take this magical (expensive) pill, powder or shake. The reality is these plans might give you some short term results, but it is not sustainable.
To really see changes, you must commit to doing the work over a long period of time.
Become a master of the basics and you will succeed. Do not fall into the trap of the latest fad diet/exercise/supplement, thinking that this is the key to achieving more.
Keep things simple, eat healthy, move and commit to it for an extended period of time if you want to see results.
It’s against human nature to do this – why would anyone want to work hard to achieve something slowly when we could get it quickly for little effort – this is what the scammy marketers prey on. In the real world, the tortoise always beats the hare. You just have to make that commitment and believe in the process.
3. If you don’t find a way to enjoy it, you will likely fail
It’s much easier to believe in the process and commit over the long term if you enjoy what you are doing.
Sure, you can force yourself to do things you don’t like for a period of time, especially when you are highly motivated, but you cannot do this forever.
Now, if you are not someone who currently enjoys working out or eating healthy, it can seem impossible to find a way to enjoy it. It’s just not who you are, right?
People change, and given time, you will change.
They key is to be looking for ways to enjoy it. This comes a lot from the way you talk to yourself. If you focus on how much you hate doing it, your mind will never open to the possibility of enjoying it.
If you focus on the foods you are not eating, you will simply miss them more. If you focus on all of the tasty foods you are eating, you will find that you enjoy your diet a lot more.
The same goes for exercise. Find something that you enjoy doing. If you don’t like the gym, try playing tennis or rock climbing. Whatever you think you might enjoy.
Think about it, nobody has to force you to do something that you like doing. You don’t need to build up willpower and drag yourself out of the door. You want to do it.
4. The thing you hate the most is what you most need to do
This is pretty much true across any area of your life. We all gravitate to our strengths and avoid our weaknesses. The human ego likes being good at things, and dislikes being bad at things. We will always feed our own bias and focus on the things we are already good at.
This might mean you’re a great endurance runner, but have no strength or muscle mass. The temptation is to keep running – stay in the field in which we excel – rather than be humbled in the weights room.
It might mean you love going to the gym, and enjoy working out, but hate watching what you eat. So you focus on training, doing more, working harder and completely neglect the diet.
In both of these cases, the thing that holds the biggest benefit is the thing you do not want to do.
Eeking out an extra 2% in what we are good at will not move the needle as much as improving from 0-20% on something we are bad at. Yet the latter is easier to achieve.
This doesn’t mean you have to live in misery doing things you hate 24/7. Just take a step back and honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. Make a commitment to work on tackling some of the weaknesses until they are no longer a weakness. Your overall results will skyrocket.
The truth can be a bitter pill to swallow, but the sooner we start looking objectively at reality, and stop wishing or hoping for an alternative, the sooner we start changing our lives.
Losing weight is not easy. It takes a lot of time and dedication to make the necessary changes to your lifestyle. You need to get enough exercise, but you also need a healthy diet. In fact, diet may be even more important than exercise when it comes to shedding pounds. You need less processed food and simple sugars, and more lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Here is a breakdown of what and when to eat for maximum weight loss.
What to Eat
In order to slim down, you need to lose more calories than you take in. On average, one pound is a 3,500-calorie deficit, so you’d need to cut 500 calories a day in to lose a pound per week. Women need a net balance of about 1,600 calories per day and men need about 2,000 per day to lose weight. This can come through diet alone, or a combination of diet and exercise. A diet heavy in fruits, vegetables, complex carbs and lean protein will make it easier to shed pounds without stressing out at the gym.
Most healthy eating guidelines suggest that you eat between five and thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables every day, or between two and six cups. That doesn’t have to be cups of raw produce. They can be made into smoothies or cooked into recipes, as well.
The average adult should get ten to thirty percent of their daily calories from protein. When eating meat, choose lean options like chicken or fish. You can also get protein from eggs, nuts, and even certain grains.
Carbohydrates should make up at least fifty percent of your daily caloric intake. Carbs give you energy, but you need to make sure they’re complex, like whole grains, brown rice, and quinoa. You can also get carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.
At the end of the day, it’s fairly simple. A diet full of wholesome, fresh, and natural food will promote weight loss and improve overall health.
When to Eat
While the best foods for weight loss don’t vary much, when to eat them will depend on your body, lifestyle and preference. There is no “one size fits all” approach to when to eat.
There are two schools of thought on how often to eat. In the US, we typically eat three meals a day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It works really well with most work schedules and is easier to plan for, but often leaves people snacking throughout the day. Additionally, waiting so long between meals can lead to overeating.
Others prefer eating four to five smaller meals a day. Eating more meals will help keep you full and prevent you from overindulging on snacks. Having so many meals per day requires a little more planning and creativity, but it’s much better for snackers. It also helps you sustain your energy throughout the day, since your blood sugar won’t drop as much.
No matter what approach to eating you take, you’ll see results as long as you eat wholesome foods and stick to a regular exercise routine.
The holidays are quickly approaching, and with them typically come some added pounds. From munching on leftover Halloween candy to a Thanksgiving feast to too many holiday cookies, it’s way too easy to put on extra weight this time of year. Unusual schedules and travel add another level of complication. Here are some tips for maintaining your weight over the holidays.
Eat Before You Go
If you’re going to a holiday party where you know there will be lots of tempting snacks and treats, eat a small meal before you go. Load up on vegetables and lean protein at home, and then you can enjoy the party food in moderation without worrying about going overboard.
Stick to a Workout Schedule
Don’t let days off from work, holiday shopping, and visiting family throw you off your normal routine. Try to stick to your normal workout schedule as closely as possible. If you know you absolutely won’t be able to follow it, adjust it to something more manageable. Whatever you do, don’t let exercise completely slip by you. Set a goal to help keep you on track. Sign up for a New Year’s or Christmas race to keep yourself motivated.
There is an abundance of unhealthy treats and snacks this time of year. We know it’s not realistic to avoid them altogether. Instead of mindlessly munching on mediocre candies, think ahead about the best desserts of the season and limit yourself to those. If your mom makes an amazing pie at Thanksgiving, hold out for a slice of that. If you have a traditional Christmas cookie you can’t go without, avoid the others available and just eat your favorites. Plus, it will make the desserts you do choose to eat seem more special and delicious.
Calories from alcohol add up quickly, but we don’t always think about the calories we drink. Creamy eggnog and spiked hot chocolate taste good, but they can wreak havoc on a diet. Too much alcohol can also lower your inhibitions and make you crave junk food. Plus, it dehydrates you, leaving you feeling sluggish and sick the next day if you have too much. Drink a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage to help you stay hydrated and limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Water also helps you feel full so you’re less likely to overeat.
Eating in front of the TV leads most people to consume way more calories than they mean to. When you’re distracted by a movie or football game, you’re not necessarily thinking about that third piece of pizza. Plus, commercials for Doritos and M&Ms can make you crave chips or candy you don’t need. Turn off the television and sit down with food on a plate. Chew slowly and don’t rush through meals. You’ll probably end up eating less while enjoying your food more.
The holidays are a stressful time for a lot of people. As fun as they can be, they’re also full of family gatherings, lots of extra spending, and events every weekend. Stress can lead to weight gain, so take time to care for yourself. Get enough sleep, meditate, exercise, read a book, do some yoga. Anything that makes you feel more relaxed so you’re not turning to cookies for comfort.
When you are trying to lose weight, there are certain things you know you should do. You give up on sugar and junk foods in favor of eating more vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. You hit the gym regularly and try to move as much as possible throughout the day. What you may not realize, though, is that getting enough sleep is a very important part of losing weight.
The amount of sleep you get directly affects your diet. People who are sleep deprived tend to weigh more and have more trouble losing weight than those who get adequate rest, even when they follow the same diet. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body over produces the hunger causing hormones leptin and ghrelin. You could be more susceptible to overeating, while at the same time being less satisfied afterward.
People who consistently get less than six hours of sleep also show glucose and insulin levels and characteristics similar to diabetics, even if they are otherwise very healthy. Your fat cells lose their ability to properly use insulin. As your body becomes more resistant to insulin, it will produce more and more in order to function. This leads to fat buildup and could eventually lead to diseases like diabetes.
Not getting enough sleep also makes your more stressed out, which in turn makes it more difficult for you to control your appetite. A sleep-deprived body will produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol triggers the reward center in your brain and makes you crave food. The combination of more cortisol and more ghrelin mean that you’ll need to eat more food than you normally would in order to feel satisfied.
Lack of sleep can also lead you to crave more sugary or salty foods and make you less likely to be able to say no to unhealthy treats. Sleeping helps refresh your mind and your decision-making processes. Exhaustion reduces your mental clarity and judgment, so you’re more likely to reach for that donut in the office when you’d normally have a piece of fruit.
Not getting enough rest can also severely impact your time at the gym. Your body and muscles need time to repair while you sleep so you can push yourself the next day. You produces the most growth hormone while you’re sleeping, which helps burn fat as well as repair and build muscles so you can increase strength and lose weight. Not to mention, if you’re exhausted, you’re much more likely to skip the gym. Even if you do make it out, you won’t have the energy to train to the best of your ability. A decent night’s sleep will help keep you energized and motivated through your workout.
It can be difficult to get enough sleep every night. Between work, family, responsibilities, planning and cooking healthy meals and consistent exercise, sleep can get put on the backburner. But if you really want to be healthy and lose weight, make your nightly shuteye a priority.
When most people think about core strength, they picture six-pack abs and millions of sit-ups. But the core is made up of more than just abs, and core strength is about more than having a toned stomach or looking good. The core is exactly that—it’s the core of your body. And building those muscles will benefit you for the rest of your life, no six-pack required.
Your core is made up of more than just the abdominal muscles, the muscles in your stomach referred to as abs. The core also includes your obliques (the muscles in your sides), pelvic floor muscles, glutes and all the muscles in your back.
The muscles that make up the core play a central role in everything you do. Every movement you make stems from your core, since every muscle in your body is connected to the ones in the core. From everyday tasks like tying your shoes and cleaning to heavy lifting and athletic activities, you use the muscles in your core.
A strong core is also vital to balance and stability. Every time you walk on uneven ground or stand in one place, you use your core muscles to keep you there. The stronger those muscles are, the less likely you are to fall over.
Strong core muscles will also help improve your posture. If your core is weak, you’re more likely to slouch over, since it’s harder to keep yourself upright. That good posture is better for your spine, prevents and alleviates lower back pain, and allows you to breathe easier.
And, at the end of the day, a strong core will help you look slimmer, as well. Even if you never get six-pack abs, a strong core will help you stand taller and straighter, making you look instantly slimmer. The inner muscles of the core help tighten your stomach and give you a smaller waistline.
So now that you know why strengthening your core is so important, it’s time to learn how. While sit-ups are a great exercise for building abdominal strength, they don’t effectively work every muscle in your core. The good news about core exercises is that you don’t need fancy equipment, or even a gym, to do them. You can build a strong middle just using your own body weight. Try the exercises below to get started.
This modified sit up works your entire from. Lie face down with your arms and legs outstretched. Keeping your legs and arms straight, lift your body into a v-shape, reaching your fingers as close to your toes as you can.
Sit up with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Lean back at a 45-degree angle, keeping your back straight. Using your muscles, slowly twist to each side as far as you can. For an added challenge, hold a weight in your hands as you twist.
Lie flat on your stomach with your arms and legs outstretched, palms toward the ground and toes pointed. Simultaneously lift your arms, legs and chest off the floor, then slowly return to the ground. Look at a spot on the floor in front of you so you don’t strain your neck.
On the floor, place your hands on the ground under your shoulders as if you’re going to do push ups. Pull your stomach in and engage your muscles, keeping your whole body in a straight line. Hold as long as possible.