Every trainer/coach/health and fitness enthusiast has to have their very own Top 10 tips! Mine are a little different to what you are used too!
1- The Real Reason: Whats your true reason why? We all say ‘I want to lose weight, tone up, get fit, be healthy…’ Blah blah blah!! I have heard this a million times! This is your ‘GOAL’, not your ‘WHY’. Trainers and coaches talk about setting specific goals and breaking them down. While this is definitely helpful to have a specific, measurable, quantifiable, foreseeable, trackable, comparable goal, it does not even begin to touch on why we truly want to take on this journey! The reason why I like to talk about YOUR true reason why is because this is your underlying and very personal motive. If you can begin to be honest with yourself and others about why you're really doing this you might start to see why you are not sticking to the plan long term. Common underlying reason for not sticking to your plan include, societal pressures causing us to feel guilty about our current state and behavioural patterns. Your real reason why could be that now, given your experience, you can truly appreciate your body and all it has to offer you and want to use it to it's fullest potential, It could be that you're extremely competitive and feel a greater sense of self-worth and esteem by changing your body and winning a competition. What ever it is, good or bad, be honest.
2- Tip the Scale: Trainers, coaches and fitness enthusiast love to tell you that nutrition is absolutely president when talking about fitness and health success and yes this is true. However, how are you to know which is the best diet? The truth is there isn't one! Intermittent fasting, 5-2, Paleo, Keto, raw organic, clean… all a load of jargon if you ask me. Anything with a name just rule it out. Just forget it and move on. You’re better than that. You could be on the most sophisticated and intricate diet in the world but if you can't stick to it what good is it?Instead let's start with thinking about "tipping the balance". If you believe your diet is 100% bad, could you make it 10% good? Seems pretty easy. You've already done wonders for your body. Eventually could you make it 30% or even 50% good? To me this is especially important if you are starting out. Down the track you can start to look at your diet in more detail but for now give yourself some little wins!! Don't ever let any one or anything make you feel bad for giving it a go. When embarking on complicated, confusing, restricting diets your are just setting your self up for failure. Don't do it to yourself!
3- The Split: So that ‘detail’ I was talking about, what do I mean by that? Well to me it means learning about how much food you need to gain weight, maintain weight or lose weight. I’m talking calories. You can do this through tracking, trial and error or working with your trainer or coach if needed. There are some great online resources to help give you a rough idea on where to start. From there the second most important aspect is your macronutrients and how your split them. Personally I like 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fats (or there about) to make up my daily caloric intake. This feels good for me all year round. What does change, depending on the time of year (comp season or not) is how many calories I am consuming to either 1. gain, 2. maintain or 3. lose. Start to figure out your Caloric intake and how you like to split the macros.
4- Learn to Fish: Go out and catch your own fish, you will 1. burn more calories and 2. be sure of a good quality food source… JUST KIDDING! What’s the old saying? “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime”. Well you might have to teach yourself but the same concept applies. Start to learn and never stop. Have healthy scepticism, and employ critical thinking. Don't just jump on the next big band wagon fad that comes along because your likely to fall off and hurt yourself. Read quality research and blogs. Theres always new research being brought to light but just because it’s the latest or the biggest or it’s backed by a celebrity, does not make it the best. You will notice that some methods have stood the test of time, some people have integrity and genuine care for fitness and health. Other methods will go as fast as they came, and some people are only there to make a quick buck out of you. Be wise and be smart.
5- Diurnal - By nature we are Diurnal, that is, the opposite to Nocturnal. There is scientific reason behind this. As the darkness sets in our body’s naturally succumb to circadian rhythms (cyclical biological ‘clocks’ that have evolved around light and dark). Effected is our body temperature and hormones that assist us to sleep. It is best to take advantage of these rhythms. Set yourself a bed time, and create a bed time ritual. Especially if you are someone who struggles with alertness in the evenings. There is a range of things you can do if you are struggling with sleep and I have written a full blog on this topic also, called "Reasons to Stay in Bed".
6- The Happiest Emotion: I’m sure you've all heard how important it is to be happy and stay positive. But what does this entail and how can you access it? What you may not know is there is one emotion scientist are talking about as “happiest emotion” and that is "Gratitude". Expressing gratitude can improve feelings of wellbeing and overall happiness. My tips to express happiness include looking at everything and giving thanks! It doesn't always have to be verbal, you could write it down or just think it. Thank your body for enabling you to move today, thank your land lord or mortgage broker for the roof over your head, thank your boss for your employment and pay, thank your friends for being there, thank the sun for it’s rays and the sky for the rain. It may sound corny but expressing your self in this way is one way you can actively improve your happiness. Do it and see, no one will know your being grateful they will only see that your positively glowing and notice how enjoyable your are to be around.
7- Hydrotherapy: Drink more water, again we hear this all the time. As a minimum we require .035 ml of water per KG of body weight. If we are in warmer environments, or are exercising we will require more water. We also draw water from foods and all other liquids consumed so it does get a tad confusing as to how much water we truly require. I recommend being on the higher end of water consumption for a few reasons. 1. being consistently higher with your water intake will ensure you never drop into dehydration and 2. being consistent with your water intake can insure tracking of your weight loss and muscle gain will be consistent upon retesting. Other benefits of proper hydration include aiding mobility to joints and muscles, maximizing brain function, minimizing stress on the body, digestion and gut health and aiding recovery.
8- Mobility: Stretching is out, and mobility is in! But what is the difference between stretching and mobility. Well stretching is a passive mode of lengthening muscle. Mobility is the engagement of muscle, joint and connection tissue and actively moving through full range of motion. This form of movement should be applied before and after your workout. We now know that injury prevention does not lie within the sole responsibility of the muscle. Static stretching does little to lengthen the muscle of adult tissue. It’s more inclined to increase your pain threshold after holding the muscle in the lengthened position. Secondly, if at all, stretching should be applied very carefully. If you are hyper-mobile, your stretching should only last a few seconds. If you are severely lacking muscle length you could to hold the stretch for much longer. Whats more effective is a dynamic warm up and cool down, working through full range of motion on all exercises, banded work, foam or Grid rolling for example. There are many other but it is best to asses your specific mobility issues and gather effective techniques to create a plan best for you.
9- 55%: The magic number. If you are not working over 55% of your max then you are failing to progress. Have you ever heard of progressive overload? Well this is what is it is referring to. For your muscle to grow and for you to gain strength the body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced. If you are looking for muscle ‘tone’ (another term which is slowly dying) AKA growth you must place greater force than before. So if you are squatting 100KG max, you must be squatting 55kg - 100kg+ in your training cycle. This doesn't mean that as a female you will start bubbling up like a balloon animal. Unless you have an unusual amount of testosterone. I’ve been lifting for 3 years and I'm still not a balloon animal! but this is the best thing you can do for your strength, definition, shape, bone density, metabolism, heart health and so much more! Including improved confidence, self esteem, oh and nice caboose.
10- The Never Ending Story: Your journey should not have an end date, you may have timelines as to when you wish to reach certain targets but ideally we want to be fit and healthy for life, right? Develop healthy habits for the long haul. Keep looking for the next adventure! This keeps the fun in and the motivation up. Reward yourself for every win! That doesn't mean with chocolate by the way, but maybe a new pair of run shorts. It can be bumpy road, you will struggle and you will get frustrated at times! We've all been there! Nothing worth having comes easy but if its something that's important to you, just keep trying. Learn from the past and get back up. Reach out to a new source of inspiration and knowledge. There is always help available!