Article by Olivier Poirier-Leroy of YourWorkoutBook on How to Stay Motivated
Social media can be a real son of a bee sting. Sure, it helps us stay in touch with friends and family, but it also shows us the endless trove of workout pictures from our gym addict friends, which tend to make us feel even worse about ourselves. And so we try to do what they do.
First mistake, bucko. Odds are you already know what works best for you.
“They know what works best for them, they just need someone to hear that they understand and support their beliefs. Once there is a mutual understanding, it is a good time to introduce clients to ideas of what foods and exercises might help them on their path.”
Remember: we all respond differently according to interests, exercise history, and everything else that goes into making us a special little snowflake. Embrace your individuality and stick with what you know that works instead of trying to emulate what someone else is doing.
If you like my motivation style so far, try a FREE consultation to see if my Nutrition Coaching services would be a good fit for you! I’d love to hear from you and help you find your motive.
Do you get Bored with Working out by yourself or at the Gym?
Look back for a moment. When you or a friend played school sports and had weight training in the off season, each day of the week was designated to specific muscle groups. For example, Monday was “leg day”, Tuesday was “arm day”, so on and so forth. When this happens, people might get into a routine, but it’s not a very fun one. You end up knowing what is coming and feeling turned off by the very idea that you have to do it all over again. Every Monday you do the same leg workouts on the machines – 3 sets of 10, and call it a day. Perhaps instead of falling into a routine with the same workouts all the time, adding variety would make things more interesting and keep people coming back to the gym. (Hint: Try an energetic plant based trainer like me who doesn’t let you get bored with working out!)
Unfortunately, repetitive workouts are not always going to deliver the best results. Every training program should change about every 4-6 weeks. Otherwise, your body will get used to the exercises and stop progressing. You need to confuse your muscles and add new exercises every week, if not every day. Using machines at the gym will result in repetitive workouts, anyway. Most machines typically only work in one range of motion and do not challenge your balance at all.
Variety is key to any program, to prevent getting bored with working out. Changing things up helps with 3 main things: endurance, continuity, and results!
1. Endurance – if you change up your routine, you will be able to work various muscles in your body . If you exhaust one muscle and that is the only muscle being trained for the day, you will run out of steam… fast.
2. Continuity – change things up to keep them interesting. The less bored you get, the less likely you will quit!
3. Results – Let’s put two and two together. If your workouts last longer while working multiple muscles in each workout AND you stick to a workout program because it is fun and exciting… you will absolutely reach your goals faster.
Truth be told, there is not one exercise program that is right for everyone. Take a look at your goals. Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to get buff? Do you need to get stronger? Whatever body transformation you are working on, there are key parameters to your training that should be considered. If you allow a fitness professional to put together a proper program design that will work for you, variety could be a key component of your workouts.
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In my last blog I talked about how important it is to do High Intensity Interval Training for fat loss. I want to reiterate that the effectiveness of your workouts depends entirely on how intense your intervals are and if you are staying within the proper heart rate zone for your body. If you aren’t feeling a slight burn in your muscles during the high interval, you might want to kick it up a notch. To make sure you are pushing yourself sufficiently, I recommend learning how to calculate heart rate for mastering your intervals.
Your first step is selecting a stopwatch that comes with a heart rate sensor, I personally use the Polar RS100, but there is plenty of options to choose from. You can also check your heart rate on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym. Your second step is to determine your necessary heart rates. Make sure to warm-up for at least 5 minutes before doing a workout. If you are a beginner with poor cardiovascular fitness, you might not be quite ready for interval training and should maintain a low steady heart rate (HR1) for 30-60 minutes, three times per week.
To estimate heart rate, let’s do some basic math:
HRMax = 220 – your age (your recommended maximum heart rate)
HR1 = HRMax*0.7
HR2 = HRMax*0.8
HR3 = HRMax*0.9
*Note: HRs are averages; get within 5bpm and you are solid
If you are ready to advance then start doing intervals from HR1 to HR2, spending up to 3 minutes at HR1 and increasing your intensity for 30-60 seconds at HR2. If that seems to be too easy after 60 minutes, increase your time in HR2 and decrease your time in HR1. Sounds simple, but make sure you plan accordingly.
Once you excel, start your intervals from HR2 to HR3. It doesn’t hurt (no pun intended) to spend a day each week working on short-burst sprints such as the 100m dash, or a 15-second timed sprint. I’m talking Beast Mode sprints. Go as fast as humanly possible, then give yourself a break to walk or jog before doing another sprint. Five to ten sprints per week will help you increase your speed and prepare you for a longer session of interval training. Remember: the higher the heart rate the more fat calories you will burn.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to do interval training aside from running and jogging. For a more unique program designed to burn fat, try Interval Training Plans with Kelly Athletics and you’ll be sure to have fun.
1. Create a plan: Start with small achievable goals when setting weight loss goals. Maybe by the time you hit your goal, you will decide that you want to keep pushing for better results. Make a daily goal of cutting back on 480 calories per day, which is much more logical yet still challenging. Saying “I am going to tone up this year and eat better” is a great goal, yet vague and missing the how and when. Without having a fitness program, nutrition plan, or schedule in place for yourself, you are more likely to quit or slack off. Give yourself a numeric goal, with a start date, target date of completion, and a written game plan for how you will accomplish your goals. Here is a solid plan: “My resolution is to lose 10 pounds of fat from Jan 1st until March 1st. Then I want to maintain my weight and keep it off by Dec 31st. I will do this by exercising with my Personal Trainer approximately 3 hours per week, adding one serving of fruit to every meal, and keeping a daily food log.”
2. Don’t make a resolution that is impossible to reach. Losing 50 pounds in one month is not going to happen even with proper diet and exercise. After all, one pound is 3,500 calories which means 50 pounds is 175,000 calories! Instead, choose 50 pounds for setting weight loss goals for the entire year.
3. Know your current fitness level. Set up a fitness evaluation with a Personal Trainer before starting a workout program; many trainers offer this service for free. Commit to a weekly weigh-in, biweekly circumference & body fat measurements, and monthly reassessments to test your fitness levels. Keep a written record of all your measurements so you can see where you are making improvements and what you need to still work on to keep you motivated. Every month, make adjustments to your goals, in case you are ahead or behind your current goal. Set reminders on your calendar, notes on your refrigerator, or alarms on your phone to remember when to work out or log your food.
4. Go at your own pace. If you have been sedentary for several months, don’t push yourself to the max on your first day working out. Ease into it by doing a light workout your first day, see how you feel the next day, and work your way up to more intense workouts. If that means 5 minutes of jogging and 5 minutes of weight lifting on your first day, that’s okay! You will get stronger and build endurance as you make exercise a habit. If you set your goals too high, you will give up more quickly. You will lose your motivation if you are too sore to workout the next day and decide to take extra rest days. You are also at a higher risk for injury if you over train in the beginning.
5. Avoid yo-yo dieting and start making lifestyle changes. Yes, a lifestyle change is something that you can commit to doing for a lifetime! Exercising 3 hours per week is a healthy lifestyle change. Eating 100% whole grains instead of enriched processed grains can be a lifestyle change. Restricting yourself by eating less than 800 calories a day is not a healthy lifestyle change, and will lead to relapse. Reward yourself for doing good, without using junk food as the reward. Put money in a jar every time you complete a workout or have a good day with your diet, and save up for a vacation or tickets to a concert.
6. Last but not least, don’t get discouraged and give up if you make a mistake. Give yourself one day a week to have a break from your diet and exercise. If you relax and have junk food only once a week, you are still doing the right thing 85% of the time! Missing a day does NOT mean that you failed or need to play “catch up” by exercising twice as long the next day. Instead, pick up where you left off next time and learn from your mistakes.
Time to get to your goal setting for weight loss results!! Points to Remember:
Create a specific plan
Be realistic (1-2 pounds per week)
Track your progress
Go at your own pace
Make lifestyle changes
Stick to it!!!! Long-term weight loss takes time. You can’t lose 20 pounds and expect it to stay off without effort. It can take just as much time to gain it as lose it.
Don’t let holiday or birthday celebrations ruin it for you. Example: Six weeks of hard work from New Year’s until Valentine’s Day, then let one day of chocolates ruins your diet? Why make a resolution that ends before the year does? If improving your physical fitness is your goal this year, set a target weight or fitness goal that you can reach in a viable time frame and make the commitment to maintaining it throughout the entire year! Who knows, maybe by the time you hit your goal, you will decide that you want to keep pushing for better results.
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Jogging Does Not Burn Fat Unless You do High Intensity Interval Training
You might think that expending the most calories during a cardio session is a no-brainer for weight loss. But, how many people do you know who spend hours on the treadmill or elliptical and aren’t losing weight? What about those who spend hours a week doing Zumba or Spin for group exercise class? I’ve had many women tell me those group classes don’t work for them, so they try Small Group Personal Training and start to lose weight. The reason it works is because my boot camp class are not entirely cardio-based. While there is some truth to “calories in calories out” for weight loss, the real secret is burning calories from FAT during your workouts. Properly executed High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) does just that! Jogging does not burn fat.
But… the longer the workout the better, right? Not exactly. Now, before you think I’m another cardio hater, let me tell you that I’ve been an endurance runner for 5Ks, 10Ks, and even my first half marathon this year. It is not a bad activity but jogging does not burn fat as effectively as other methods. Jogging is a healthy moderately paced exercise that can elevate your heart rate for an extended period of time. If done correctly, it is A-OK. However, jogging does not burn fat but instead it burns most of your calories from carbohydrates (NOT fats) and can put added stress on your joints, so you might be increasing the release of cortisol (stress hormones) which prevents fat loss.
The truth is, you can burn more calories from fat by moving faster and getting your heart rate higher during short spurts, such as sprints. I recommend pushing yourself for 30-60 seconds at higher speed until you feel lactic acid build-up or muscle soreness during your activity. You can switch to a slower pace (jog or walk) between each interval for 1-3 minutes but be sure to KEEP MOVING. If you focus most of your energy on doing high intervals and push yourself to really go hard, you will burn fat fast. Because of this, it is possible that 30 minutes of HIIT is more effective than 60 minutes of jogging. Jogging does not burn fat in a steady state.
Ever walk into a gym and feel overwhelmed by all of the exercise machines? It’s tough to know which ones to use and how to use them without proper demonstration. Clients who are new to exercise can benefit from using machines because they are safer, easy to use, and can give you a full workout with the variety of machines you find in a gym today. Plus, it takes out the guesswork in figuring out what exercises you can do for the day. You can easily show up, go from machine to machine for an hour and call it a day, right? Well, there’s something you need to know!
The secret is: Personal Trainers are taught to teach clients exercises that do not require machines! Why? Because machines are not the best use of your time if you want to see real long-term results. Although they are effective for beginners, machines offer artificial support and typically work in one plane of motion. My role as a Personal Trainer is to get clients using free weights or body weight for their exercises. The reason is that free weights allow individuals to perform exercises in ALL planes of motion, and increase the demands on a person’s stability. Free weights can allow for more complex exercises and even synergistic moves that a machine could not do. The added bonus: Complex exercises with free weightsburn more calories than a seated machine exercise.
Next time you work out, try using barbells or dumbbells to perform the same exercises that you would with a machine.
For example, Barbell Deadlifts:
Keep in mind that cable machines are still important. They help individuals to develop stability, power, and strength. If you work out from home, you may use resistance bands as an inexpensive alternative to cable machines.
Keeping up with a fitness and healthy eating routine while keeping a busy lifestyle is definitely hectic. Even if you have fallen off the wagon with your fitness plan, it is never too late to jump back on. If you are like me, a working mom with two kids, you understand how little time there is left for staying fit. To help you utilize the spare time you have for continuing your fitness and nutritional plan, consider the following tips:
1. Keep fresh fruit within sight on the countertop or kitchen table and hide sweets, or just don’t buy them at all! Seeing healthy food is a good reminder that you can make a healthy choice when you are craving snacks. Also, keep fresh veggies cut in airtight containers in the fridge for another healthy, quick snack.
2. Make a 12-week fitness and nutritional goal and track your progress week-to-week to staying fit beyond February. It is much more motivational when you actually see yourself making progress! Break this 12-week goal down into 12 weekly goals that include a reward for meeting each goal. For example, if your fitness goal is to increase the intensity of your workout and your nutritional goal is to only eat dessert twice that week, reward yourself with a new book or movie that you have been wanting. It’s the little things that make us happy when we are pushing ourselves very hard.
3. When making plans, plan your fitness and nutritional goals for the week and not just on a day-to-day basis. This way you are not scrounging for a plan when time doesn’t permit for those emergency moments such as “Mom, I’m hungry!” or the baby-needs-a -diaper-change, right when you were ready to plan today’s fitness program or nutritional menu. Use break time at work to create your weekly plan or ask for some help with the kids for half an hour to get your plan laid out.
4. Keepin’ it Cool: If possible, make meals that you can freeze. Having premade meals that you only have to pop in the microwave or stick in a preheated oven will save a lot of meal preparation time throughout the week. It is best to prepare multiple freezer meals at a time, which ultimately makes clean up a onetime event instead of several by preparing separate meals all week. Staying fit can be a little easier with pre-planned meals.
5. Try to work out early in the morning before the kids wake up, or in some cases, after the kids go to bed. It can be stressful having the kids interrupt your workout.
The first step to eating better is shopping smarter. It starts from the grocery store to your kitchen. Take a look at what you have in your kitchen and re-evaluate your grocery habits. Foods that are easily accessible are the foods you will most likely eat, so get rid of the junk food now and start filling your cabinets with food you know is good for your body. Below are some tips for making small adjustments that will help you get fit and lose weight.
1. Always make a shopping list. If you don’t plan what to eat, you plan to cheat! The extra effort it takes to plan ahead is well worth your time. Take a few minutes once a week to find healthy recipes that you want to make, and write down the ingredients that you need to buy. Don’t forget to include on-the-go snacks such as nutrition bars and trail mix, plus healthy recipes that are quick to prepare. This will prevent you from going to fast-food restaurants for a quick fix. Instead, save yourself the calories. 2. Look at the ingredients. If you are unsure what an ingredient is, don’t buy it. A lot of the long-winded words in processed foods are chemicals, preservatives, or genetically modified ingredients. Examples include hydrogenated oils, sodium benzoate, and maltodextrin. If your body does not recognize a substance in the body, your immune system will treat it like a toxin and try to fight it off. These added stresses on the body may negatively affect your metabolism, which may lead to weight gain. 3. If you really are craving sweets, eat a piece of fruit. Chances are, your craving will be satisfied. However, if you still can’t get over your craving then limit yourself to an individually packaged item that is one serving size. Don’t buy the whole cake, a dozen cookies, or a liter of soda. It is not worth the discount on bulk items if they will cause you to gain weight. Having these items sitting around in your house will tempt you to consume it! 4. Limit attending events based around eating food. Most events like birthday parties, potlucks, and banquets have an abundance of desserts, burgers, pizza, and/or soda. Those are all the foods you should be avoiding in order to lose weight. If you do attend events, however, bring a healthy dish or eat a meal right before leaving your house. That way, you will not be hungry and are less likely to indulge in junk food.
Tis the season to be slimming! Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to eat junk. You can still mingle with family and friends without making poor eating decisions. When the holidays roll around, try new healthy recipes and change up the tradition a little. The choices you make will influence those around you – give the gift of positive change this season! Eating healthy doesn’t mean giving up your favorite foods, but changing how you prepare them to get fit. Happy Holidays!
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Kelly Gibson has certifications from NASM, Precision Nutrition, eCornell, over 3 years experience as a Coach and Trainer, a lifelong athlete, and has earned a Biological Engineering degree from Penn State University. If you need to calculate your calories, macros, and other weight loss goals, Kelly is your go-to trainer for Plant-Based Nutrition.