Resolutions and Progress

Today is the first day of February. I can hardly believe that we’ve already left January behind us but it’s true. Since it’s the beginning of the month I thought we’d use a moment to take stock of where we are and the progress we’ve made so far this year. I didn’t make any resolutions myself but I know a lot of us did, so how are yours coming along? Are your goals any closer than they were a month ago? Have you lost weight, added strength, or improved your life in general? I hope everyone answered yes to those questions but if you didn’t; why? Have you been sidetracked? What’s pulled you off course was it too hard, too much, too soon? A lot of times people make the mistake of comparing themselves and their goals to other people who are established in their field and well-practiced.

Often when someone is good at something they make what they do seem effortless and easy. What we don’t see is the years of daily work, training, and practice that go into such performances, so when we attempt to duplicate it ourselves and fall short we get discouraged and all too often quit. Don’t be one of these people. If your goal this year was fitness and a healthier life, remember that it is a long-term journey. Whatever you may read or see on TV, real results have no shortcuts and lasting results don’t happen overnight. Be patient folks and just keep at it. It’s ironic that most people give up on themselves long before their bodies do. Even sadder is that many times they give up right on the cusp of results, had they gone but a week or two more they would have reached that tipping point.

Another reason new exercisers and resolutionists fail to see a result is that they are failing to apply themselves. They are in effect going through the motions of working out and exercising; they might sweat and breathe heavy but in reality their expending little real effort. Americans today are notorious for half-hearted efforts. This has extended over into our workouts. Right at the point where a routine gets hard and really starts to test us we quit and say that’s enough. Most times we don’t even realize we’re doing it, but we are; we’re bluffing our way through our gym and run time then act shocked when we don’t see results.

This is a fine line to walk. I read a lot of posts on Facebook and other sites about monster workouts and epic routines that leave you puking and gasping for air. While admirable and effective I think taking exercise to this level is nothing more than a pissing contest in the end. The only person you should be trying to impress in your workouts and show up is your old self. Leave the competition to the field and professional athletes. Also newer studies are beginning to show that working out to failure is counterproductive and even dangerous if you exercise alone. Save your all out efforts for the track and race. At the point when you can no longer complete a movement with proper controlled form; it’s time to stop and recover. If you’re dead set on a certain number of reps, that’s fine, wait a few seconds to recover your form then finish. This is not the time to let ego guide you. Be smart and finish your workout, don’t let it finish you.

Now the flip side of this coin is that if you have time for a water break and chat between sets and movements in your workout, you’re probably not going hard enough. An effective calorie burning routine can be accomplished in as little as 20 minutes if you really apply yourself and make every minute count. This is where circuit routines can be handy. They’re the catch-all of exercising, a cardio effort mixed with strength training that can hit every muscle group in one go. Another rule and it’s a simple one, if you’re not sweating while you’re exercising, you’re probably not going hard enough. Ladies leave the make-up at home. Accept the fact that you’re going to look like hell while you’re sweating and accept it. Fitness has a price and sometimes that price is ugly. Save the nice clothes and make-up for after and show off all your hard work then. Guys I’ll make this simple if you’re lifting weights and not sweating then you’re not working. Put the dumbbells down walk away from the mirror and go smack yourself for the time and money you’re wasting in the gym.

The last component of the results mystery is an oldie but a goodie. The majority of new exercisers this year that don’t see the results they want are sabotaging themselves. What are you eating? It’s a simple question and one I’ve addressed recently in a series of articles titled coincidentally enough “What do you eat?” Too many of us are spending time and effort at the gym, on the road, and in the woods working ourselves out only to flush it all away when we sit down to eat. Don’t be one of those people who think working out hard is justification to eat crap. There’s a name for people like that it’s called obese! Exercise and nutrition are two parts of the same equation. If you have one without the other you can’t get the answer you want.
I’ll sum up proper eating in this simple formula. Calories in must be less than calories expended to lose weight. Now the other part of this is that the calories you bring in must provide energy to fuel your workouts and recovery. What does your body use for fuel, well it’s simple, fat and sugar. Protein is essential to building muscle but your body uses it as a fuel of last resort. Complex carbs are broken down into simple sugars used by your body to fuel the anaerobic cycle of cellular regeneration. This is also known as the hydrogen/oxygen cycle. Sugar that is not used is converted into fat and stored. SO if you don’t want to make more fat then you already have, you need to get your body to burn the fat it has already stored for energy. How do I do this? I will tell you in the next article. For now concentrate on three things for the next few days.

Apply yourself to your workouts, go hard and push!

Don’t waste time; less rest equals more work and better conditioning.

Eat a balanced diet; try to eat six small meals a day high in protein and fiber with a small percentage of healthy fats.

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