Today, I am writing about some of the important things that I have learned over the years. I’ve been from one extreme end to another in working out because I was trying to find the “right” exercise program in order to lose weight and get a flat stomach. Along the way, I injured myself, made myself physically and mentally exhausted and learned a couple of things. Here are some things that I learned:
- There is no wrong way to be fit. There is no one size fits all in fitness. We all know how that goes in clothing, disastrous. What makes us think that it would work with fitness. Everyone’s body is different so, there is no one way to fitness. I know that may seem like a lazy answer to some people but, it takes hard work to find a fitness routine that works for you and your body. Your body is not my body so I can’t tell you how many times a week is best to workout and for how long.
- It’s okay to take rest periods. There was a point in my fitness journey where I thought resting was for the weak. It actually hurt my progress and I mean resting between sets and rest days. I was like, “REST!! What is that! We do not rest!” Rest is actually very useful especially when you are trying to reach strength goals or some other fitness goal. Being active all the time can lead to overtraining and exhaustion. When you are exhausted, your muscles do not work as well and you are more prone to injury. Trust me, I speak from experience. Also, I’ve been resting longer in some of my workouts lately and found that I can complete my sets with better form and more energy. Look at powerlifters! They rest for 2-5 minutes between sets and they have major gains. You may not need to rest for that long but, remember to rest and take a full rest. Impatience can really spoil a workout.
- Mental exhaustion counts as a reason to skip a workout. Yes, you can schedule rest days or active rest days, whatever suits your fancy. But, it is okay to take an unscheduled rest day because you are mentally fatigued even if your body is not sore. The mind and the body work together and your mind will thank you and reward you with a better workout session the next time you workout.
- Food is fuel, not your enemy. You can only do so much when you are running on empty. Do not forget that food, as evil as it may seem sometimes, serves as fuel for your workout even if your goal is to lose weight. Make sure you are eating well and not drastically depriving yourself of food for your soul and your body. You can do so much more on a full tank than on an empty one.
- Form is everything! This is like the golden rule for me, right here. Even if you think you know how to do an exercise, look up the proper form. It might surprise you. There are so many exercises that I have done wrong for years and then questioned why I was having pain. People always have tips on how to adjust exercises for your level or make it harder if you are just that much of a boss. Also, doing an exercise correctly will help you reap the benefits of the exercise more efficiently.
- Switch it up! High intensity isn’t the only way to work out. Every type of workout has its place. There was a time where all I did was HIIT because I hated cardio and this was a short solution. There was also a time where I only did yoga. All the HIIT can take a toll on your Central Nervous System and sometimes do more harm than good. It’s okay to slow down sometimes and maybe try some yoga. It is not as easy as it looks. Also, you can always make yoga as hard or as easy as you like. It’s all about what your body can do at that present moment, not the instructor’s body, not yesterday’s body or tomorrow’s body. Lift weights. It does not make girls big. That is a stereotype. Try calisthenics. You can gain muscle with body weight exercises.
- Your workout is not determined by your gear. I mean its nice to have resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, suspension trainers and medicine balls at your disposal but, you don’t need them. Intense workouts can also be made with tables, chairs, doors, towels and your own body. Nice shoes and a new workout outfit are great motivators but it doesn’t make you the most fit or mean you workout the most. You don’t even need the gym. There are many resources on how to workout with your own body online and in books. A lot of them are pretty challenging too.
- Walking counts. This goes back to my anything-that-doesn’t-get-me-dying-on-the-ground-doesn’t-count mentality. Whatever you can sustain for a long period of time counts for a workout. If you are more likely to walk then run, then walk. Walking throughout the day is good for because it can help take away some of the effects of sitting all the time. For weight-loss, 10,000 steps a day is the magic number but for people who just want to start being more active during the day, just getting up every now and then counts.
- There is no magic supplement or exercise to gain muscle/ lose weight. I’m sorry. I searched the web already. Yes, there are supplements to help you be more efficient in reaching your goals but, there is no substitute for hard work meaning nutrition and exercise, mostly nutrition. I will not use the word diet because the word has been ruined by weight-loss fads.
- Not losing fat/ weight does not mean you have not been working hard enough. There are so many people who eat well and exercise hard. There are many reasons for your possible “failure.” You could not be eating enough which could ruin your metabolism so when you eat regularly, you blow up. There are so many articles telling women they should be eating 1200 to 1500 calories without accounting for age, height, weight and activity levels. If you are eating 1200 calories as a growing 16 year old for example and running everyday, your calorie deficit is probably too low so your body thinks you are starving and its holding on to fat. You are not always overeating or exercising too little. You could have other health issues such as hypothyroidism or fibroids which can make weight-loss difficult. If you think you have done everything and no weight is being loss, see a doctor or a health professional who will actually listen to you and take your words seriously. The same thing goes for gaining weight. Some people have a hard time gaining weight because their metabolisms are faster or they have a medical issue.
Well, that’s my lengthy spiel for today. I hope you find the things I learned over the years useful. What is something you have learned on your fitness journey?
Thank you for listening to my rant,