Fitness Mindset - A Lifestyle

In fitness, health, exercise, it is true that people do fall off the wagon. People start extremely dedicated but will eventually lose their motivation to stay healthy. To combat this, I think that people have to change their mindset to keep their health top of mind. This relates to all aspects of health - exercise, nutrition, sleep, hydration, mobility. All these different areas have to be built into your routine. so here are some tips you can use this to continually change your mindset:

1) Keep exercise top of mind: Build working out into your daily habits. Aim for the same time every day with a plan. Know what you are going to do, don’t just go aimlessly. Or go to a class so you can be motivated by others.

2) Eat Whole Foods: Eat foods that are good for you on a daily basis. You don’t have to be on a strict plan but the food that will give you nutrients, vitamins, macronutrients are the ones that will help you fuel your body every day.

3) Get 7-8 hours of sleep: Who wants to work out when they are exhausted? No one! It’s also harder to eat healthy when they are tired after a long day. Trust me I have been there, so get your sleep because it will help you in more ways then one.

4) Lifelong Practice: Know that your health is a lifelong process that you have to continually work on. That means that you can continually improve. But that means you also have to put in the time and effort every day to improve. Don’t see things in the short term. Commit to this everyday and see how it will change your life when you look back at it.

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Testing Your Fitness

Following up on last week’s blog post, there are multiple ways to test your fitness to see if you have improved. Below, I will list some examples of different categories to see if you have improved in multiple ways:

1) Strength: Testing your 1 repetition max is probably the easiest way to test your strength. You can o this for almost every exercise from the squat to bench press. However, you can also test how many repetitions you can complete such as as many pull ups as possible. Finally, you can also test the number of repetitions within a specific time frame like a minute.

2) Stamina: Timed workouts will be the best to test stamina. For example, you can test the time it takes to run 1000m. You can also make it more fun and test the number of burpees in 10 minutes. Either time or distance will be the best way to test your fitness in this aspect.

3) Flexibility: While it is a little more difficult to test, a really good way to test your flexibility will be a sotts press. It is an extremely difficult movement. The method to test this is to find a scaled method to perform the movement. From there, work on flexibility. To re-test, try and remove some of the scaling options to see if you can perform the movement. If you can, then you have improved!

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Why Everyone Should Compete

I truly believe that everyone should in some shape or form compete in a fitness related activity. There are a number of reasons that I will list below. When I say compete, it can be in whatever sport or activity ou enjoy the most. Whether it is a Tough Mudder, obstacle course racing, bodybuilding competition, powerlifting competition or any other sport, competition is healthy. Here are the reasons below:

1) Gives Training Purpose: Do you ever feel like you are working out just to work out? When you compete, you are training for something specific and can work towards that goal instead of just aimlessly seeking improvement.

2) Social Experience: During most of these competitions, even though you are competing against other people, you talk and get to know each other. You can create friendships, find new training partners or just bounce ideas off each other.

3) Learning Experience: By competing, it will highlight your weaknesses and give you a better idea of what areas you need to improve on. You can see other methods, techniques and strategies others use.

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Foods For Life

Nutrition and diet. These are terms that some people can have a problem with because they think of these terms negatively. That doesn’t have to be true! Today I will go over some foods that you should always have in daily eating. I will note that these may not all apply to you as I understand different people have allergies, religious restrictions or other circumstances that result in them not being able to eat these foods. However, this is a general guide and it is what I have found works best for me. As long as I include these foods in my daily eating, I can stay on the right track.

1) Protein - Chicken, turkey, beef and salmon. I enjoy eating meat because it provides my body with the protein that I need to be able to repair my muscles and help them grow to be stronger.

2) Starches/Grains - Brown & white rice, sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, oatmeal, breads that pack nutrition. Carbohydrates are necessary to fuel you as they provide you with energy. They are necessary to push you through workouts. While most people cut them out of their daily eating, I would encourage moderation, not completely cutting them out.

3) Vegetables - Lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots. Vegetables are important as they provide so many nutrients that help you feel better, get more energy and also fill you up without overloading your carbohydrate intake.

4) Fruits - Apples, oranges, strawberries, bananas, watermelon, berries. Not only do they provide a great snack that can help curb sugar cravings, they also pack nutrients like vegetables that you won’t get from meats or starches.

Out of all these foods, the biggest thing that you need is to find something that is simultaneously sustainable and healthy . Remember you are in this for the long haul, not a short term fix!

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Adding Variety to Your Fitness

Do you find yourself getting bored with your current workout routine? If so, then this is the blog post for you! While training, things can get stale if you are doing the same program multiple weeks or months in a row. So here are some great ways to add some variety to your exercise to make it exciting and enjoyable. That doesn’t mean you can’t go back to your previous program/routine, but changing it up can help you rediscover your interests/motivation.

1) Add an outdoor program - Whether it is running, hiking, mountain biking, or any activity, being outdoors while exercising is great. Especially now that it is summer, take advantage of the weather. On a beautiful sunny day, you don’t have to get stuck in a air conditioned gym to get a great workout. There are a ton of bodyweight or low equipment workouts that can be done to not only train but embrace the outdoors.

2) Swimming - Most people don’t have swimming in their programming but it is a great way to change up your workouts. It is great for almost every body part. Learning to breathe and pace yourself underwater is a challenge in itself.

3) Switch Modality of Training - There are so many different programs out there now with free programs available that you have so many options! Powerlifting, bodybuilding, olympic weightlifting, CrossFit, calisthenics, strongman, gymnastics, etc. Choose one or multiple to mix it up!

4) Workout Buddy - Train with someone else and just copy everything they do! They may have a different flow of working out or a completely different program. Follow their instruction and just enjoy not thinking about what’s next!

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Listen To Your Body For Better Results

Just listen to your body. Sounds easy right? It may sound easy but I can assure you it isn’t! As a coach, I have found a great way to see where athletes are at. Difficulty of an exercise, intensity of a workout, how much weight to add to the bar, etc. But athletes should learn to also listen to their body because the coach can’t be around 24/7! So here are my few tips on how to listen to your body and what areas you should look out for.

How To Listen To Your Body

First, you should do this sitting. You can have your eyes closed or open. Then, do a mental scan from the top of your head all the way to your feet. Focus on each individual part of your body one at a time. This will highlight any areas that feel off or need specific attention.

Another method to do this is to stop periodically throughout the day and take a mental note of your body. Clear your mind completely and just let whatever emotions/internal issues arise. We can get caught up being so busy that we don’t bring any attention to how we are feeling internally.

Key Areas to Listen

Here are some areas that you should look for and identify right away.

1) Fatigue: Both mental and physical fatigue are very important. Don’t try to push your max weights if you are either mentally or physically burnt out.

2) Hunger: In terms of eating, your body will always tell you what it wants. If it wants more, you will feel it in your stomach. A lot of times, habitual and overeating are very mental. I have found that listening to your body is a great tool for moderating how much food you actually need to eat. This includes junk food!

3) Aches and Pains: If you are feeling tightness (more than usual), it may be a good idea to take it easier on that specific area. The mental scan would be really good to highlight any of these areas.

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The Importance of Percentage Work

What is percentage work?

First let’s talk about what percentage lifting or work is. This is lifting weights that are lower than your 1 repetition max. So if you are doing 5 repetitions, you will most likely be using weight that is 70-80% of that 1 repetition max. So the weights are not the maximum, can be completed with good form but is still challenging. Now you may think I should push myself, so why shouldn’t I try to do the maximum weight every time? I’ll explain below.

Testing vs. Gaining Strength

When you are always trying to perform your 1 rep max, you are testing your strength. But when you decide to do lighter manageable weights (also called percentage work), you are building that strength. Disclaimer, I am not saying to never push your max. I am advocating for training with manageable weights, performed with good technique and strategically working up to the maximum weight. If you take the time to gain strength and then test it, you will be further ahead than just testing it every single week.

Engraining Good Technique

Using slightly lower weight than your max is essential because it will help you work on technique. Doing complex movements like the clean and snatch require a lot of technique. Using lower weights (percentage work) can help you build muscle memory of good technique. When you lift maximum weight, it is much easier for the body to break down. You want your body to remember the good technique, not the bad form.

Fatigue

As you continually train, your body will gradually get fatigued. I’m not talking about getting tired after doing 5 reps, I’m talking about training fatigue. This type of fatigue can occur after training consistently hard for multiple weeks. This can range anywhere from 2 weeks and up, depending on your level./ So during this times, it is even more important to stick to the percentage work. As you accumulate fatigue, it will be harder to push those maximum weights. Working with the lower weights will help still build strength and help you continue training for a long time, which is the name of the game!

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Not All Calories Are The Same

Flexible dieting has been a booming trend recently. Things like IIFYM (If it fits your macros), intermittent fasting and other methods of losing weight. I agree with specific aspects of each philosophy, there is one point that sometimes can get lost in these methods. The fact that the type calories that you are consuming differ between foods. Let’s dive deeper into this.

Each day, your body consumes a certain number of calories. If you consume above your maintenance calories, you gain weight. If you eat below your maintenance calories, you will lose weight. IIFYM is great because it helps people learn about tracking their food. But the part that can get tricky is where people will store their calories for bad foods. Meaning they will eat 3 donuts if they have money left in the calorie “bank”. The issue that I see with this is that yes you may be under the number of calories you have for the day, but these calories are not providing the micronutrients and vitamins that your body needs to have improved performance. So if you are filling yourself with junk and losing weight, it may work for weight loss but your workouts will eventually suffer. Your body wants good food to fuel it through whatever activities you have.

There are similiar problems with intermittent fasting. Some people will fast extensively so that they can save their calories for one meal where they go nuts. Not only does this have the same effect as above, but this is cauasing bad eating habits that can have long lasting effects.

What I like to do is eat for performance. If I feel my body needs more food to fuel me, then I will give it that food. If I feel like my workouts are getting slow and sluggish, I will try to cut down things like processed sugars. Treat yourself when you need it, but don’t only rely on bad food to fill up your calorie intake.

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Losing Weight and Dining Out

Often times I see that when people are trying to lose weight and they go out to eat, everything goes out the window and they go nuts. Just as often, people say that they ate poorly because they just HAD to eat out whether it was for a special event or occassion. But just because you go out to eat doesn’t mean that you have to abandon all good habits. Here are some tips and tricks for when you decide to eat out:

1) Plan Ahead: Most big chains have their menus displayed online. Additionally, now large chain restaurants have to display how many calories are in each meal. So it is really easy and simple to look ahead of time at the menu and decide early what you plan on eating. You can then budget this into your daily calorie consumption to stay on track.

2) Substitute: Make simple and easy substitutions to eat healthier items. Sub out the fries for a baked potato, salad, or any other option that is healthier.

3) Pack or Share: If you decide that you want to eat something that is unhealthy, that’s okay too! But to manage how much you eat, you can split it with someone else who is eating something healthier. Or you could even make some of it to save for later so you don’t consume everything in one sitting. These options are great to get the craving out of the way but not sacrifice your entire day for just one meal.

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Losing Weight - Effects on the Body

As summer is fast approaching, a lot of people will try to summer shred to lose weight to look good for the summer. While my opinion is to lose weight slowly and properly, some people may not realize or know the effects of losing weight on their body. I have gone through weight loss as well, going from 200lbs to 160lbs. Below I’ll go over what I experienced during my weight loss

1) Reduced Energy: If you are eating less calories than your body is used to, you will definitely experience reduced energy. With reduced calories, your body has get the energy from fat cells. So that means that you may feel hungrier and more tired because you are not supplying the body with the calories to sustain your current weight. While this is not bad, just know this is normal!

2) Increased Temptations: If you are eating healthy and reducing your calories, seeing others eat unhealthy or junk food will be more tempting. You do have to restrict your food choices. Combined this with the above effect, you may feel greater urges to eat junk food. My advice to combat this is to find a healthy substitute, keep it out of sight and out of mind or eat a reduced portion of the treat.

3) Getting Consumed: As I went through my weight loss process, I found myself getting too overwhelmed and consumed with dropping weight. I started sacrificing going out, treating myself sometimes and revolved my life around trying to lose weight. Remember that everything is a process. If it took you years to put on weight, not all of it can come off immediately.

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Kicking Up Intensity For Summer

It’s already May! Can you believe how time flies? We have gone from setting those goals in January to reviewing those goals in March to now kicking it up a notch as we head into summer.  Here are some ways to kick up the intensity if you are looking for an extra push for your workouts.

 

1) Add some form of HIIT Training:

HIIT is a fancy term for high intensity interval training. What makes it intense are bursts of energy ranging in time and small/medium periods of rest. It is really good to increase your heart rate, burn calories and the clock keeps you accountable!

 

2) Try a New Workout/Methodology/Training Style: Try new styles and methods of training. While you may not stick with it, you can learn something from training differently that can help improve your own workouts. It will also force you to change the type of training. This makes it harder on the body and forces increased intensity!

 

3) Grab a Workout Buddy: Working out with a partner is always beneficial. You share the energy, push each other and have fun. If you’re bored during your workouts, having a friend will always make it better!

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Tracking Food To Reach Goals

While tracking food seems boring and redundant, it is a very beneficial practice to improve your fitness and reach your goals. The old saying of “you can’t out-train a bad diet” is absolutely true. Why only take your fitness and health halfway to its potential? You can improve your fitness game by improving your nutrition and tracking your food! Here are some tips below to do so:

1) MyFitnessPal: A great tool to track your food. It has an easy to use interface, barcode scanner for any labelled food, it can save previous meals and you can create your favourite meals. It cuts down the time of tracking food and use very easy to use.

2) Make Adjustments Every Week: If you want to start slow and make some improvements, do small little things every week to challenge yourself to change. Start small and keep up the small changes until they become long term sustainable habits.

3) Weigh the Food: By weighing food, you would be surprised at how much one cup of rice actually is. It will be more accurate and give you a better idea of what actually is your calorie consumption.

4) Short-Term Tracking: Just know that this tracking does not have to be a lifetime thing. You can use it for 2-4 weeks to get a better understanding of your nutrition. Once you know how much your body needs to reach its goals, you can slowly taper off. While it seems like a big task now, it will only be time consuming for the first few weeks.

Good luck tracking!

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Take Little Wins

My advice for exercise is to think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. The task takes dedication, patience and a lot of time. As another analogy, exercise is like a lease. However, with fitness the rent is due everyday. Since it requires so much dedication and commitment, it is necessary to look at small improvements.

1) Improves Motivation: Looking at small improvements will help you continually push in the gym. If you look at improving your strength movements by 5 pounds a week, that is a 260lbs increase over the span of a year. While a 5 pound increase every week may not be achievable, this is just to demonstrate perspective. That why you may not be at the level you are at, that does not mean you won’t get there. Don’t compare yourself to other people and see their highlights. Look at your improvements which will keep you motivated.

2) The Bad Days: Everyone is going to have bad days during their training. Days where the weights feel heavy or movements feel foreign. That is completely understandable. For this reason you have to be grateful and appreciative of the effort and work you put in on the good days.

3) Training Waves: Your workouts will most likely look like the graph below. Some days are great and some are bad. But the key is that the wave is gradually increasing and you are getting better. So be happy with those good training days and shake off the bad ones. Take a look at the big picture but don’t let it scare you to the point of discouragement.

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How To Set Long Term Goals

How To Set Long Term Goals

Last week, the blog post consisted of how to set goals in general that ranged from 1 month to 12 months. This week, we will discuss how to set longer goals such as 1-3 year goals for your health and fitness. Here are the steps that you need to take:

1) Set Your Vision. Setting a vision for who you are in the future is a great place to start. Think about what you are able to do, how you look, how you feel, and what your body is capable of. By knowing where you want your future self to be, you can start working backwards from this. This can be a description of yourself, a mission statement or some way to picture your future self.

2) Organize the vision into 3 long term goals. These goals can range anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Make these goals big so that they do seem a bit intimidating, but achievable. Make them measurable and set a time to complete them by.

3) Mix your long term goals with your short term goals. From the sheet last week, weave the two together to make the big goals into smaller ones. Break it down so that every step and action you take will eventually lead you to those bigger goals.

How To Recover Faster From Training

After a tough workout, you need to be able to provide your body with the right nutrients and tools to repair itself. Here are some of those tools below.

1) Nutrients and Food

- Water: Rehydrating yourself after exercise is necessary for two reasons. First, if you are too dehydrated, this can decrease your performance. Secondly, water helps balance your electrolytes so that you can perform sustained exercise. If you don’t hydrate yourself after the workout, the next workout can suffer in performance.

- Protein & Carbohydrate: After exercising, two things happen. First, your muscles need to repair. This is where protein is beneficial. Protein contains amino acids which is used by the muscle to repair itself. Secondly, the muscle glycogen level are low. These levels give you energy to perform exercise. Some form of carbohydrate can also help restore this and help you recover faster as you replinish the energy your body needs.

2) Stretching & Massage

- Soft tissue massage such as foam rolling, trigger pointing, using a lacrosse ball or manual massage are all effective ways to reduce the soreness in muscles.

- Depp stretches held for 1-2 minutes also reduce the soreness feeling called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

3) Rest

- If the muscle soreness is significant, athletes may need to rest 48 to 36 hours for a full recovery of the muscles. For athletes who have a higher tolerance, rest can be between 24-48 hours. Timing depends on level and tolerance. More advanced athletes can have shorter rest times between workouts. Greater rest periods may be necessary if there has been significant time off from weight training.

Sources:

J Sports Sci Med. 2004 Sep; 3(3): 131–138.

Cheung, K., Hume, P.A. & Maxwell, L. Sports Med (2003) 33: 145. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200333020-00005

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Feb;39(2):377-90.

MyFitnessPal - A Tool for Success

MyFitnessPal is a FREE app that everyone can use to be able to help them dial in their nutrition. Here is a guide on getting started and how you can use it to reach your fitness goals.

1) Setup: After downloading the app and signing in, the interface will prompt you to enter information including weight, height, age and level of activity. All of these are used to then calculate how many calories you need. My biggest recommendation at this part is to not underestimate your weight. Even though you may not want to, using a scale is going to be more accurate than just estimating your weight. If you want to be real about your goals, you need to not shy away from the truth.

2) Calculate Macronutrients: Under the settings, you are able to adjust the percentages and intake of protein, fats and carbohydrates. The default settings are not bad but they can adjusted accordingly. Macronutrients also depend on the level of endurance training. Endurance training consumes and burns up energy so you will need to increase carbohydrates.

For Weight Loss & Maintenance: 35% Protein / 25% Fats / 40% Carbohydrates

For Weight Gain: 40% Protein / 20% Fats / 45% Carbohydrates

3) Start Tracking: If possible, weigh your food and scale the barcode of the labels to get the most accurate measurements and tracking to ensure that your calculations are correct. Once you start entering your food, it will save it and make the inputting much easier!

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