fitness

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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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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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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Benefits of Warming Up

When most people are crunched for time, what do they do? Forget to warm up and will jump directly into an exercise. This will greatly hinder your long term success. Let's review the benefits of warming up and how to properly do it.

  1. Warming up will increase your heart rate. Why is this important? Because more blood is going to be pumped through your body delivering more oxygen and nutrients so that your muscles will be able to perform better.
  2. When warming up, joints that have lubrication in them will become more dense. This will allow for the joints to take more impact and increase range of motion.
  3. Getting used to the movement and weight if doing resistance training. Imagine trying to squat 300 pounds without having ANY preparation. That 300 pounds will feel much heavier than if you gradually worked up to it. Mentally, the warm up will prepare you to perform that specific exercise.
  4. The muscles are less likely incur an acute injury (an injury stemming from an application of force). When the muscles are warmer, they are lengthened and can take more force.

Here are some steps to take you through a proper warm up:

  1. Start with light aerobic exercises to increase the body temperature and blood flow. This is normally 50% of your max heart rate.
  2. Perform dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is a type of stretching that uses movement of the joints, holding only for 1 to 2 seconds. Follow this link for examples: http://greatist.com/fitness/full-body-dynamic-warm-up

3. Perform movement-specific warm ups. If you plan on doing sprints for your main exercise, the more you perform that exercise the better you perform. Warm up your sprints with 30%, 50%, 70%, 90% for example, before going 100% for your working sets.

Just like how mom told you to eat your veges, warm up before you exercise!

Health Benfits Not Many People Think Of

When people think about getting into shape, there is one thing that majority of people will think of. What are they? "I be more aesthetic," or the most common, "I will lose weight." But being health goes beyond so much further than this. So here we go:

1) Your energy levels will improve.

Why is this? You may think of energy as a percentage, and you have a certain percentage of energy you can spend in a day. Truth is, the body is constantly trying to increase the amount of energy it can produce. Energy, or ATP, can only reproduce when that ATP is consumed. When you exercise, your body can then create new energy and your body constantly wants to do this. So in fact, the more exercise you do, it allows your body to be able to reproduce more energy.

2) You will be more sharp and attentive

Relating to the last point, when you exercise you also improve blood flow. Blood carries oxygen which allows for more ATP production. You know what this means? More energy for your brain. Exercise actually increases the production of mitochondria, which is the cell responsible for creating ATP.

3) Reduce the risk of disease

Exercise time and time again has proven in studies that it lowers the risk of premature death and other diseases such as cardiorespiratory disease. Exercise reduces body fat which aids with diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The evidence is there people.

4) Improves mental health and helps combat depression

Exercise releases chemicals in the brain such as endorphins which improve feelings of pleasure. Not only that but they aid in distraction, confidence and social interaction.

What more are you waiting for? Be active and get moving.