Let’s be real. Getting into the gym can be tough. There’s time commitments, financial commitments, dieting commitments, motivational commitments, etc. Even the effort it takes to simply move the weights or sweat it out on the treadmill is a huge consideration to make. But, once you’ve gotten yourself to a place mentally where you’re ready for all the effort, now what?
I couldn’t tell you the number of people I’ve seen firsthand that just float around the gym, aimlessly moving from machine to machine without an actual sense of purpose. Is that to say they’re wasting their time? Well, no, not quite. But are they making the most of the time they’re putting in? Absolutely not. Would an Army General march into battle without a plan? Would a coach in the Super Bowl wake up on game day and say to himself, “Meh, let’s just WING IT!”. Not a chance!
Proper preparation is just as critical an ingredient as any other element when committing to a fitness regimen. Here are six things to consider before you hit PLAY on your Gym-Time Playlist:
The rule of thumb is a higher number of reps per set equals a higher heart rate, which tends to burn more fat. Take as little rest as possible between sets (30-60 seconds) so that you can still complete a full set with good form. The inverse is, a lower number of reps keeps the heart rate lower, which allows for less cardiovascular effort and tends to break down and develop more actual muscle. Here, we can allow for 90-120 seconds of rest between sets to fully return our heart rate to a resting level, promoting the maximum muscular effort. Build your routine around those basic guidelines and modify it as you see fit for yourself.
Proper preparation is the difference between a good workout and a GREAT workout. Equip yourself with every tool necessary to give you every possible chance to succeed. Don’t sell yourself short: your own worst enemy is just ignorance. The answers are all out there, and you owe it to yourself to find them and apply them. Take the time to change your life today, and you’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
Chances are if you use any form of social media in 2017 you’ve likely seen or heard SOME reference to a Keto diet. Keto, or short for Ketosis, is the body’s natural process of producing Ketones, which are used to break down fats in the liver. This metabolic state (Ketosis) is achieved relatively easily by starving your body of carbohydrates, which in turn forces your body to burn an alternate fuel source for energy. With a diet consisting of a proper balance of fats and proteins and carbs, we can essentially use body fat for energy and easily shed the weight we all want to lose with minimal effort.
Let’s cover some basics.
A typical diet is usually pretty high in carbs. When we eat foods that are high in carbs, our bodies produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is what our body ordinarily uses for energy, and insulin is produced to help process the glucose, so whatever fats get ingested are just stored. Limiting your carb intake is what depletes that source of fuel, and ultimately forces your body to run off fats instead.
A Ketogenic diet isn’t anything new or innovative; low carb or low carb high fat (LCHF) diets have been around for quite a while. In fact, Keto plans have been used to treat pre-diabetic or Type II diabetic patients by helping control blood sugar and insulin levels. Aside from the weight loss benefits of using fat for fuel, studies have shown that avoiding blood sugar spikes on a low carb diet help improve concentration and focus, as well as feeling more energized and feeling “full” longer. So how do you get started?
Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy.
Work up a plan for yourself that inhibits or restricts carbs to a minimum. For most people to enter a state of Ketosis, you need to stay below 30g of carbs per day, though the more aggressive you are with cutting carbs, the faster you’ll enter Ketosis. What carbs you DO ingest, try and get from vegetables, nuts, or dairy. Avoid refined or complex carbs such as starches, sugars, and grains. At its simplest, build your diet around these guidelines:
Meats (Eggs, fish, turkey/chicken, and even fattier proteins like beef are ok)
Vegetables (Though be aware of what vegetables you consume. Some in-ground vegetables such as carrots can be high in carbs)
Hard Cheeses (Cheese will be your best friend. A great Keto snack with zero carbs and dense in fat, this can be snacked on to help hit your daily fat allowance)
Zero calorie sweeteners (Stevia and other zero/low-carb artificial sweeteners are ok in moderation too)
Things to be aware of: first, you’re gonna pee. OFTEN. Keto helps evacuate a lot of the water your body holds on to which, once flushed, helps you feel leaner and less bloated (just a perk). Peeing so much and passing so much water is great, but can also deplete the electrolytes in your body, so be sure to drink plenty of water to supplement your water loss. Some people experience what’s referred to as the Keto-Flu, which is the transitionary period between switching from carbs to fats as fuel. In some cases, there’s slight lethargy and fogginess, though this certainly isn’t typical and never lasts more than a few hours. Usually, a good night’s sleep is all the remedy you need to wake up in full Keto-mode feeling like a champ.
If all else fails, just do what I did and start Googling everything. “Fats in X” and “Carbs in X” and “Protein in X” will become your go-to queries for EVERYTHING you eat until you’ve built a basic routine for yourself. The hardest part of the diet is the hardest part of any change in routine, and that’s what I’ve preached week after week: commitment. When your friends are grabbing Tacos on Tuesday or the office is bringing in donuts and kolaches for everyone, having the discipline to put the donut down and walk away is half the battle.
My Keto plan is practiced intermittently, which means I have a VERY structured Keto plan Monday through Friday. But, come Saturday morning, I’m practically eating ice cream for breakfast. Seriously. I’ve had a tremendous amount of success on an intermittent Keto plan, which gives me an entire weekend to eat whatever I want, satisfy my cravings, and gives me something to work towards during the week. In my opinion, letting my body reset every weekend and re-enter Ketosis early every week is what’s contributed to the 50+lbs I’ve lost this year.
Low amounts of carbs (5% of your total nutrient intake)
Medium amounts of protein (30-35%, more if you’re active)
High amounts of fat (60-65%)
So, why don’t you give it a shot? Make an easy Keto plan for yourself that starts on Monday, and commit to a low-carb routine through Friday. It sounds so cliché, but if it can work for me, chances are it can work for you too. There are tons of resources out there and amazing Keto-friendly recipes to keep the diet from getting boring and monotonous. Track what you eat, drink plenty of water, and don’t overcomplicate it. You got this!
Diet is defined as the sum of food and drink that an individual habitually consumes. DietING, however, is the practice of attempting to achieve or maintain a certain weight THROUGH diet. When we’ve finally gotten real with the person in the mirror and set our goals, we generally tend to start with diet. Maybe join a gym, or maybe just try some exercise videos at home. But the one thing we don’t technically need to “make time” for, is just dieting. Fad diets have become ingrained in our culture now, and most every major chain has a special section of their menus dedicated to such. There’s a diet for every walk of life, from vegetarian diets to weight control, belief/religion based ones, and low or high-volume protein, fat, carb, calorie, etc., iterations. So how do you choose? What’s the right one?
Well, there really isn’t one.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a RIGHT diet vs. a WRONG diet. It simply speaks to the many, many different types of people that live on this planet. To write up some plan and insist it would work for every one of us is ridiculous, because our bodies don’t all process, synthesize, and metabolize nutrition the same way. Some of us have metabolisms that work nonstop, and some of us (like yours truly) have metabolisms that apparently stopped working long ago, probably sometime shortly after birth I think.
I experimented with several different fad diets myself; Adkins, South Beach, Paleo, etc., trying to find whatever the recipe was that worked for me. Earlier this year I committed to an intermittent Ketogenic-based diet that, although quite difficult to commit to, has worked fantastically. (Check back in next week as I dive deeper into the specifics of a Ketogenic-based plan – how it works, and why it works!)
At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to convenience vs. commitment vs. preference. What are you willing to commit to? Can you turn down Taco Tuesday if it means sticking to a low-carb diet? Can you shop for a weeks’ worth of groceries on Sunday and spend the afternoon preparing all of your meals for the week? Or do you have the wherewithal just simply to make healthy choices?
In my opinion, the 5 to 10lbs I think 90% of us say we’d like to lose can be done as easily as choosing a side salad instead of fries, or a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a double-cheeseburger. The word “diet” suggests something that will start, then stop, doesn’t it? You diet to hit a goal, but then what? Back to business as usual and back to the weight as usual? This is the Diet vs. Habits paradox. At some point, the diet needs to get adopted and become the habit. Albeit, likely modified to maintain weight and not lose anymore, but if old habits are what made us unhealthy, what makes you think going back to those will yield different results later?
So, why don’t you just start with simply making healthy choices? Try water instead of soda. Fruit and veggies instead of fries and mac n’ cheese. Grilled chicken or fish instead of fried food or burgers. It’s these simple choices that can jumpstart a whole lifestyle of change. Give it a week, and let your diet of healthy choices become your new healthy habits.
We’ve all got it: those few extra pounds we wish we didn’t. In a day and age where “body positivity” is being thrown around as a defense for obesity, it’s almost taboo to even touch on. But let’s face it – most of us are overweight, and all the trends are only pointing away from us as a culture finding a solution. When getting your favorite fast food DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR is as simple as a few taps on your phone (because drive-thrus are neither quick nor convenient enough anymore), the never-ending pursuit of accommodation is what continually feeds the “NOW-NOW-NOW” immediacy we’ve come to require as a people.
That sums up the whole issue in a nutshell, doesn’t it? If getting IN shape was as easy as getting OUT of shape, we’d all be walking around like marble statues. Countless hopeful gym newbies sign up with some New-Years-Resolution-Get-Fit deal at their local big box gym, but fall off by the time Valentine’s day candy goes on sale in mid-February. Why? Because fitness is a process, not a purchase.
My own fitness experience follows along that story line too. With fitness videos that work you out in 90 minutes getting replaced by the NEW and IMPROVED version that does it in 60 minutes, then again replaced by the 20-minute version, what’s the message there? That all I need is 20 minutes of jumping around a few days a week to look like the guy on the cover of the fitness magazines? Count me in!
The moral of the story here is you have to mentally prepare yourself, more so than physically, for ALL of the effort it takes actually to commit to change. It’s more than a diet; it’s more than jumping around for 20 minutes, it’s more than mindlessly throwing weights onto bars and moving them around for a little while. It’s taking the time to research and understand just what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It’s a mental switch you flip that says, “OK, yes, I’m doing this, no matter what it takes. And I’m not stopping until I get where I want to be.” That’s the hardest part, folks. We get frustrated and discouraged because whatever “it” is, “it” doesn’t work for us. So, we give up. We continually make excuses and rationalize our way out of following through with these commitments and promises we make to ourselves, and until we’re MENTALLY prepared to follow through with them, we’ll just end up spinning our wheels.
Don’t quit because the “gains” aren’t just rolling in. Don’t get discouraged because the scale doesn’t immediately say what you want it to say and the person in the mirror doesn’t immediately look how you want them to look. It’s ok to not go 100mph right from the start. It’s ok to not even EXPECT yourself to go 100mph right from the start. You’ve gotta crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. Commit to the change, however large or small; it’s all significant. Remember, the keyword is COMMITMENT. Not 50% effort, not 90%, but ALL in, FULLY committed. Start your healthy lifestyle by just committing to healthy choices, and I promise those decisions will take you exactly where you want to go.