Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Health & Fitness Tips - Tip #3

DISCLAIMER: I'm imparting information that I learned in my own health journey. Consult with a nutritionist, dietitian, and licensed physical trainer for proper information tailored to your needs.


Spoiler Alert!

Eating clean and healthy for weight loss does not translate to a tone and fit body. Nope. Muscles don’t grow magically while you’re depleting your body of calories. To iron out any excess skin due to weight loss, grow muscles, build endurance and stamina, you have to exercise. Eating right and working out go hand in hand. That’s why its called “health and fitness”.

Exercise is the part I always expected to be hardest stage for me. I was coming from a non-active lifestyle to adopting the necessary active regimen. Turns out it wasn’t difficult incorporating activity into my life. Before that, there were always excuses for not working out.

“Too busy.”

“No time.”

“Can’t afford a gym membership.”

“Physical limitations.”

Move Your Body!

As you put off weight while eating properly and drinking a healthy amount of water daily, you may feel the urge to move around. Your body will naturally want to walk more and longer. And that’s how it all starts: by walking. Set a step goal. You don’t need a fitness band for it. Your smartphone can track your steps. In fact, its tracking you right now whether you like it or not so might as well use the feature!

When you set a step goal, you’ll find yourself raising it to push yourself farther because now you can! Turn walking into power walking. Turn power walking into jogging. Next thing you know, you’re running! These are all-natural progressions you can make. This is all exercise. Then you can take it all to the next level: full body workouts of all sorts!

What workout routines are right for you will be contingent on what your fitness goals are. This is where I wanted the most guidance because I couldn’t see this far ahead when I started my weight loss journey. I couldn’t see myself skinny. I couldn’t see myself athletic. I had no idea what that version of “me” could look like. All I knew was that I wouldn’t stay “skinny” or “scrawny” looking. I used a picture of Christian Bale from The Dark Knight as the body goal for myself. I shared this picture with each of my trainers. This was important for me because I understood that a body type like that required weight GAIN not weight loss. This made it easier for my trainers to prepare a workout plan for me to follow.

Now we segue to the changes you should prepare for in fitness training.

Weight loss requires the weight scale readings to go down. When you start fitness training, the scale readings don’t matter as they did during weight loss. What you’re looking for are the body composition figures. I don’t want to get too technical here. All you need to know is that you’re looking for your body fat percentage, skeletal and muscular mass (your lean body weight). Your scale readings can and will go up depending on your fitness goals, and that’s perfectly fine. It might take a moment to accept the increase in weight. Don’t freak out!

A gym is among the best places to get measured, but you can measure yourself with simple tools available on the cheap from Amazon. You can follow some basic instructions on body composition calculations here. Even if you’re not sure if you’re doing it right, so long as you remain consistent on how you measure your reads, you can track your progress. For example, I measured myself on 3 points: side of my chest, side of my stomach, and mid-thigh consistently before getting professionally measured. I was pleased to know that my readings were spot on! So, give it a shot!

Speaking of consistency, when you’re stepping on a scale, make sure you’re keeping the conditions and times as similar as possible on every read. For example: the scale stays in one place not moving it around the house. You will get different reads if your scale is on tile versus carpet. Also, if you’re measuring yourself first thing in the morning, don’t make your next read before bedtime! Wear similar attire each time. This is how you track your weigh-in progress during weight loss and fitness training, in my opinion. Remember: stay consistent!

Protein Adjustment

Your nutrition will require an adjustment based on your goals. You’ll most likely need dietary supplements as well. For body building, protein is important. The most natural intake of protein is from real foods, but you won’t always get the needed amount. Protein shakes and bars exist for a reason, but they all come from different sources and companies. Pay attention to the ingredients. The more processed they are, the worse they can be for you. Stick to the most natural forms of bars and proteins as possible. I must add, those won’t come cheap. That is why the best and most natural way to get protein is through real foods. Just remember to stay away from as many processed foods as possible. (Here’s looking at you, all beef hot dogs!)

Just because you’re “eating healthy”, does not necessarily translate to “eating right”. Just like there are risks in low-carb diets and even vegan diets, there are also dangers with high protein diets – the very thing muscle building requires. Lately, there are more reported cases of people dying from protein overdose. (Read here, here, and the most publicized tragedy here.) Its important to talk to a nutritionist for your fitness needs. I would also recommend a physical check up with your doctor to better understand your body limitations, if any. Remember to listen to your body. Don’t overdo it with exercise. Everything in moderation!

Time Management

Eating right is a science. How you eat, what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat changes with your workout routine and schedule. Meal and workout planning is best when timed together. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the luxury to keep to a schedule. You can still do it. It’s all about having flexibility with your time.

An important rule of thumb to keep in mind is to always eat within 30 minutes of your workout. If you don’t feed your body with nutrients for recovery, you may find your entire workout was for naught. Got to do it right. It’s “health and fitness” not “health or fitness “.

By the way, the gym is not the only place to do exercise. (I’d argue that the gym is the worst place to exercise if you have insecurity issues.) I used to go the gym for team training classes at 6am 6 days a week before I had a schedule shift. I have not been to the gym in over a month as of this writing. Yet my workouts are longer and more intense now. How and why? It’s because I do it all from the comfort of my home! I don’t have a workout bench. I don’t have weights heavier than 25 pounds. I’m slimmer and more tone now because I been consistently working out an hour a day, 6 days a week doing a mix of cardiovascular and strength training. A lot of the workouts routines are in my mind. To change it up a bit, I been doing classes by the lovely couple over at Fitness Blender. Combined with my heart rate monitor and fitness tracker, I keep log of all of my workouts as I did at the gym. One major advantage of working out at home is that I can push myself to my limit without an emergency concern. At the gym, I had to keep in mind that I had to drive back home since I exercised by myself.

Here’s what I use for a mix of workouts and different daily routines at home:

  1. Workout mat (aka yoga mat)
  2. Exercise mat (yeah, those are different)
  3. Dumb bells
  4. Treadmill
  5. Jump rope
  6. Resistance bands
  7. Fitness Ball
  8. Medicine ball
  9. Balance trainer
  10. Wrist grips

You don’t need all these things to do strength training. My favorite workouts are the ones without weights. I incorporate weights to increase the workout intensity – that is unless you’re doing body building. That’s where the gym becomes a necessity. You need heavier weights and longer sessions in those cases.

In conclusion, your at-home gym can be much better than the traditional gym!

You can go for the gym membership if you want. Some just jump right in and try to do as many reps as possible without a true system. It’s not about how many reps you do. It’s about the quality of your reps. I really recommend a personal trainer if you can afford one. They are best qualified to help you work around any physical limitations you might have. Do it right or risk hurting yourself in the process.

Alright! You have the motivation, the drive, and the will. Now pave the way! Push the sofa aside and get moving in your own living room! Exercise begins with you!

Got to keep it all up. That leads to my final health and fitness tip: Habit and Routine!

-Andres Segovia
Twitter: @TheNewsReel
YouTube: The NewsReel

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