“Be more Fit”
These are terms personal trainers hear at the gym daily. Most people do not join the gym because they are already in shape, they join because they have a desired goal and have not been able to accomplish it on their own. Furthermore, many of these new folks at the gym lack the working knowledge on what certain equipment is used for, how to reach their goals, how long it will take, and the relationship between nutrition and exercise.
I am not saying this to be demeaning, I am saying this because this is what I work with every day. People come to the gym who do not know what to do, and I am here to help them along the way. The truth is that what most people think and believe is true about health and fitness is actually based on false advertising. This is especially true about how fat and muscle relate to each other. People see a number on a scale and have a built in reaction, without a full understanding of what that really means in terms of their health and fitness.
So many people come to the gym wanting to “tone up” and “lose weight” go to a group cardio exercise class or jump on the cardio equipment for long periods of time followed by exercises with equipment that targets their “trouble areas”. Then after a couple weeks they step on the scale and find out not much has changed. Sound familiar?
Here are a few things you or someone you may know is missing out on when it comes to attaining your health and fitness goals:
-The weight scale is a farce
The truth about the scale is that it is basically a measurement of how much gravity is pulling on your frame. I have seen numerous times two people who weigh the same on the scale with very different physiologies. What is forgotten is that Muscle weighs more than Fat on the human frame; skeletal muscle is denser than fat stores. Muscle is the reason for that “toned” and “shredded” look so many people strive for in today’s world, so in order to look like that one has to forget about the scale and focus more on their Body Fat Percentage number. This measure estimates the amount of your body that is just fat, while the rest of the body is comprised of muscles, organs, skeletal bones, and water retained.
Using the scale as a measuring stick of your fitness progress is misguided and has led to many people quitting while they are making progress, so stay away from the scale as much as possible.
-Cardio is not the key to fat loss
Cardio is a short for Cardiovascular Exercise. Cardio exercise initializes a caloric burn in the body when done for a long enough period of time or a high enough intensity to spike heart rate. The dark secret about cardio is that sustained cardio will also burn off muscle from the body; this happens because those muscles are not being maintained through exercise or physical activity so as a result, the body harvests energy and nutrients from wherever it has been programmed to think is not in need of nutrients or use. That phrase “you lose it if you don’t use it” is very true for your health.
The reality that is unknown to many people who are at the gym is that anyone can garner the same caloric burn from lifting weights as does cardio if done at the proper intensity. This way a person can reprogram their body to not burn off muscle while instead using fat storage for the burn off. Performing functional strength exercises will do two things biologically that improve your health better than cardio exercise:
1. Prolonging the protein synthesis process, which causes the body to better utilize nutrients and slow down the process of fat storage;
2. With strength training, the building and maintenance of muscle will burn more calories at rest, which increases the metabolic rate and works to reduce fat retention.
-Nutrition is more important than exercise
It does not matter how many hours you spend at the gym each day or how sweaty you are when you leave; if you do not put the right types of foods in your body each day than you are just fighting an uphill battle. The human body is a complex machine of numerous biological processes that depends on the intake of Macro (Fats, carbohydrates, Protein) and Micro (Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids) Nutrients in order to function properly. When we go hard at the gym and then do not put the proper nutrients in the body, these biological processes do not operate optimally and problems occur such as injuries, cramping, headaches and sometimes more severe side effects.
What you put in your body is almost more important to your health and fitness than what you do with your body on a daily basis. Without the proper balance of Protein, Carbs and Fats then all those hours at the gym is just another activity in your day. Your body needs a certain amount of fats for hormonal and organ function, a certain amount of carbohydrates for glycogen production that is used for energy in the body, and a certain amount of protein for the maintenance of skeletal muscle as well as organ function.
-You need to speak with a Health and Fitness professional
This may be the most controversial point I make on this list. Every day in the gym I see people using bad form with exercises, ask me questions that have origins in misinformation, and too many people doing the same exercises every day with no variety. No one has it all figured out, we all have things to learn in life. If your health and fitness are important to you then the same applies for those areas also. Most certified personal trainers and certified nutritionists are people who want to help others and will not be condescending or judgmental towards those who come looking for help. Even if you work with a trainer or nutritionist for a few months, it is still time well spent learning how to correctly do different exercises, learn how to eat according to your body’s needs, and build good fitness habits so you can live a better life.
Also, do not be fooled by so proclaimed “Fitness Experts”, check the credentials of everyone giving you advice and find out from them the source of their knowledge and information they attempt to give you. Too many of these self-proclaimed Experts do not have the time spent in the classroom, gym, and kitchen to support many of the claims they make; instead these people propagate information based on subjective knowledge or based on marketing a specific program or product they insist that you buy because their way is the “only way” to get “results.
Do not let any excuses, whether ego or fiscal, stand in your way of getting the help you need to better your life. Health and Fitness is something all of us should invest our time in, improving our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Today is the day to take the step away from the fads and misinformation of yesterday, take the steps forward to change your lifestyle and create new habits that will sustain you for the rest of your life.