Fitness Follies: How to avoid failure with fitness

Setting goals is so very important when it comes to fitness and embarking on an exercise program, but what if goals, depending on what they were, could actually be a deterrent in the gym?

The real reason goals don’t work as far as fitness goes is when you set ones that are unrealistic. A lot of that can be traced back to how we view body types, fitness and have little understanding truly of what it means to be “healthy.”

You have to be honest with yourself, where you are at this point and what would be considered a reasonable goal if you’re picking up the weights or hopping on the treadmill for the first time in a while.

Someone who has gained a few hundred pounds in the last year or two isn’t going to be able to drop that weight in six months. Understanding that it took years to gain weight might be the biggest revelation you can have before you attempt to lose it, knowing that you might be 12 to 18 months away from finally getting back to your “goal” weight.

Unfortunately, our exercise culture has turned from longevity and being healthy for the long haul into instant gratification, watching television shows about makeovers and losing weight and how that process can happen so very quickly.

A show like “The Biggest Loser” actually was more harm than good. It showed massive amounts of weight dropped one week after the next, but what most don’t realize is that they’re at a confined location where all they do is exercise and have dietician monitoring how they eat from one celery stalk to the next.

That isn’t realistic, and what it did was breed a culture of exercisers who joined a gym for a few months, didn’t lose weight and quit anyway. They didn’t have 24 hour per day trainers or live at a camp where fitness is the first, last and only priority you have for months.

How we view fitness as a society and what our definition of “healthy” is also can be a hurdle. Who doesn’t want to have a flat stomach, washboard abs and look great in a two piece bikini or bathing suit?

But having a flat stomach shouldn’t be tops on your list. Instead, think more about dropping pounds with a more consistent, fat burning and muscle toning workout. Your stomach might not be completely flat but it will thank you when you see it more toned, not only there but in your arms, legs and butt, too.

One mistake men and women make consistently is trying to also do too much, too soon. You shouldn’t be doing CrossFit or cardio kickboxing when you haven’t worked out intensely at all or it’s been quite a while. You’ll end up injured or harming your body.

Failing at fitness is quite common.  Most of that rests squarely on your shoulders, mostly because you set goals that were far beyond expectations, and while your intentions were good, they also were misguided at best.

Weight Lost: Why diet plans often confuse, mislead most

From Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers, ab machines to ads promising you the world in terms of weight loss, consumers and those looking to drop a few pounds must be feeling very much misled and lost as they embark on a fitness journey that takes more than a few detours along the way.

The real issue is two fold: consumers who want to lose weight are so desperate and time sensitive to do so that anything that sounds easy and simple is appealing, thus setting the stage for products, services and flat out advice that preys on that, even if what they’re selling or saying isn’t really going to help anyone, in terms of losing weight.

That’s why understanding what really works, and what information you should take in, harness and use is so daunting for the average person who just wants to look better in their clothes or at at the beach this summer.

Misconceptions about losing weight abound in droves, so dispelling them all is nearly impossible, but instead let’s focus on a few that are downright silly.

For starters, what do you know about carbs and speciality diets (i.e. South Beach, Atkins, etc.)? If you’ve been told that carbs are bad for you, think again. Carbs are necessary; they provide energy and keep your blood sugar where it needs to be on a daily basis, so that you’re not tired, moody and exhausted all the time. Now, this isn’t a huge admission that means you should run out and eat bread, pasta and other carbs all the time, all day long.

Instead, it’s about eating them at the right time, such as portioned throughout the day and easing up on them as you get into the evening. Carbs are also very good before a workout, otherwise, you’ll have trouble staying focused and energized enough to even complete one.

And as far as eating and exercise go, two points come to mind: just because you exercise doesn’t mean you can eat what you want. Also, cardiovascular work, such as walking and running on a treadmill, isn’t a guarantee to lose weight.

The real truth is that losing weight is easier to do with a weight lifting program, with high repetitions and lighter weights and a balanced diet.

The salvation sometimes, unfortunately, has to come from failing. Everyone has a different makeup, body type or DNA, so what works for one might not work for someone else, so often trial and error is part of this process.

That said, finding what works is more about a marathon rather than a sprint. If it seems to good to be true, chance are it is, and the only safe, true measure to lose weight starts with eating smarter, not depriving yourself, adding exercise to the equation and making sure that fads have no place at the table with you.

Time Starved: How to effectively exercise efficiently

One of the more successful training videos in the past decade or so was titled “10 Minute Trainer.” And while the context of the video wasn’t anything revolutionary, the title taped into a feeling among exercisers, particularly new ones, that simply was too good to be true.

What if you could workout for 10 minutes per day or every other day and still lose weight?
If you’re reading that question and aren’t intrigued, you’d be in the minority. Most would hear that proclamation and immediately sign up for that deal in a heartbeat.

The “10 Minute Trainer” success shows that the masses are starved for time, and want nothing more than to be able to be healthier and more fit as long as they can continue to work hectic hours, shuffle the kids off to baseball and dance, and maintain their volunteer work, work around the house or anything else that consumes their time.

Whether or not 10 minutes is enough to ensure the body of your dreams is debatable, but you can consolidate your workout and still make it well worth your while. The idea that you need to work out for an hour or more, five days per week isn’t feasible nor is it necessary to maintain a healthy weight and an even healthier lifestyle.

One of the easier ways to expedite your workout with time being of the essence is to start thinking more about training with multiple body parts and working through the circuit training mentality more than anything else.

Circuit training often is defined by moving from one machine to another and changing the weight that is being used. But think of circuit training more like interval training than anything else. Think about high intensity training that is short bursts, rather than meandering around from one machine to the next (stagnant training). Jump rope for 30 seconds, do planks for 15 seconds, jumping jacket for 30 seconds and core work (sit ups) for 60 to 90 seconds, and you have yourself a high intensity workout that is literally going to take you 15 minutes, max, just as an example.

Group fitness and exercise classes also help for a number of reasons: they have a start time involved and they’re typically 30 minutes in length (some of them are one hour). The start time is the accountability piece you need, and 30 minutes of Yoga, Pilates or weight training isn’t overly intrusive to your schedule.

Time is the major reason cited as to why you aren’t working out. But you have to get past the fact that exercise has to be time consuming. Instead, work out smarter, not necessarily harder, and time won’t be an issue moving forward.

Gym Neighbors: How to get motivated and avoid gym mistakes

What is the one excuse you hear as to why people can’t exercise?

They don’t have the time, right?
In addition, why do most people quit the gym even after they’ve tried to go?
Chances are, they’re not seeing the kind of results they want.

And those two questions and the subsequent results aren’t just about first time or novice exercisers. They pertain to that group but also those who are going consistently, enjoy exercise but yet can’t seem to get on a schedule of consistency both in frequency with which they go and also achieving what they initially set out to do, most notably losing weight or toning.

So how exactly do you get motived and get the results you want, avoiding plenty of common mistakes that happen at the gym?
Studies show that going to the gym on a consistent basis centers around two major elements: an upcoming event or the buddy system. Everyone knows just how intense exercise can be when, for example, you’re preparing for a wedding or even just getting yourself in shape as summer approaches and you’re attempting to shed those winter pounds.

But nothing keeps you on point better than the buddy system, and that can mean anything from finding a partner to exercise with who will keep you accountable when you don’t want to go, or employing a personal trainer who will do the same.

Personal training gets a bad wrap because quite frankly there are some really ho hum, average ones available, but the ones who know how to add variety to workouts and keep things interesting are keepers. They’ll also keep you on task.

As far as gym mistakes go, they’re plentiful, including doing the same exercise over and over again (which is why a trainer helps quite a bit). Another misstep often made when it comes to exercise is believing that you have to train or workout every day. You’ll lose weight and gain muscle or tone your body by also letting it rest for a few days after three or four days in a row of exercising. You also can employ the one on, one off rotation where you workout and then take the next day off, working out essentially every other day.

If weight loss is what you’re trying to achieve most, you’ll want to look at cardiovascular training in two distinct ways: stationary and interval. Far too often, your workouts are nothing more than walking on a treadmill and driving back home. If you’re going to do an extended cardio workout, you want to make sure you do so and have as little rest as possible, meaning you keep going and don’t break from it.

High intensity training in intervals means you go as hard as you can for 30 seconds, for instance, then take twice as long between sets (in this case 60 seconds).

Being able to distinguish that type of cardio is key to getting to your fitness goals and burning fat fast.

So rather than get caught up in excuses, trying looking at how to make exercise that much easier for you.

Food Fighting: Why some diet and exercise myths are made to be broken

So what exactly is the key to weight loss in relationship to dieting and how you eat overall?

The problem with your food plan might not be a problem at all in theory if you believe you’re doing the right things or someone with some “expertise” has advised you accordingly.

Then again, have you thought about that advice and whether or not it’s one of those popular dieting theories that we all tend to believe, but have little to no truth to them?

You know the ones: talk about skipping breakfast, eating small meals throughout the day or only eating when you’re hungry. Those are just three of hundreds of dieting myths we’ll tend to believe because we don’t know any better.

Exercise also is part of that group as well.

That includes things like lifting weights (for women mostly) is going to make you big and bulky and if you want to lose weight, you should stick to burning calories.

That comment couldn’t be further from the truth. Weight training is linked to losing weight in men and women and adds much needed variety to your workout. One myth that is true is the one that suggests you can’t do the same exercise or routine over and over again without hitting a plateau and thus all the progress you’re making just stops on a dime.

In the dieting world, there are two that really stick out most and are commonly misinterpreted by experts and novices alike. You should indeed, in some ways, force yourself to eat small meals throughout the day. Skipping meals is the worst possible thing you can do as that will create a void in your body that needs filled by solid, small meals that are mostly comprised of protein.

The other one that has been permeated through the walls of every health club and gym in the world is that you can enjoy all the foods you want but only in moderation. That word, “moderation” tends to get stretched to its fullest, but when you consider some food literally has no value to it whatsoever, you really do need to be a least a little choosier when you select from food that you convince yourself you can have.

So, there are foods that should be avoided all the time and at all costs.

Dieting and exercise is hard enough as it is, staying on point and on track with your goals, without a bunch of untruths flying around from one person to the next. You can’t take any comment at face

Plateau Effect: How to break through any exercise plateaus

When you’re in the gym, working hard and eating right and the scale just isn’t cooperating with you, thoughts immediately turn to one word that you really don’t want to even think about, much less utter.

Plateau.

Specifically, the term “exercise plateau,” a term that signifies that your body has decided to stop losing weight, gaining muscle or whatever it is you’re trying to do and simply stops cooperating with all your training, weight lifting, cardio and anything else you’ve been sweating to since you embarked on this fitness endeavor.

The fact is plateauing as it relates to exercise isn’t all that uncommon, so the first thing you have to remember is that you’re not at fault, and there’s nothing you did incorrectly to get to this point. The focus moving forward is how to get past this hump, this exercise roadblock to the point that you start seeing those positive gains again, rather than stagnancy.

The key to the plateau effect and breaking that vicious cycle is variety, followed closely by really examining your diet. A friend of mine did cardio five times per week for six months and lost a ton of weight, about 30 pounds to be exact. Another took a job outdoors that included walking all day, every day as part of the job, and he dropped 40 pounds in about nine months.

And yet both got the point that they simply stopped losing weight.

Both of them had poor eating habits, including junk food and eating late at night. The cardio in both situations more than offset that, plus they had never worked out previous to joining a gym and getting a new job, respectively, and neither one of them had ever done any weight training, either.

Pulling back on the cardio in the first scenario and adding more body weight training (i.e. variety) allowed for more weight loss and also toning of loser areas on the body. The person who worked and walked all day also incorporated weight training and started to see more muscle development as well.

And they both changed their diet, drinking more water and less salty and foods filled with fat.

Sometimes even the most ardent and amazing workout isn’t what your body is going to respond to at that very moment. Those who eat well, exercise and don’t lose weight shouldn’t completely abandon ship, but rather alter what they’re doing.

What works for some (cardio every day) might not work for others. You could argue that finding that magic bullet of sorts is key to not only get started but implement once your body catches up with your current exercise regimen.

Variety is key and so is intensity and upping your gym or at home workout routine game so that your body won’t know what hit it, and you can effectively trick it into losing even more weight and reaching those intended goals, thus breaking through any plateau poised to stand in your way.

Cleaning Lazy: Why clean eating is filled with dirty lies

healthy eating

Fitness, eating healthy and dieting is always filled with so much misleading information, you’d be hard pressed to find a true source of sanity on the topic.

Trends and district often permeate through the fitness world, when you’re talking about a specific diet to lose weight or an exercise (or product) that is guaranteed to get rid of that “stubborn belly fat.”

From the Atkins diet craze from about 10 years ago to the South Beach Diet and everything in between that has followed suit, the average exerciser and dieter doesn’t even know where to begin.

The latest buzz words, from a diet perspective, is the term “clean eating,” something you’ll hear from online talk shows or fitness experts or even a company such as Panera Bread, who is absolutely jumping on this bandwagon to the tune of talking about all their food and what they serve in their restaurants as clean eating.

Much like most phrases and terms that are born out of exercise and diet driven discussions, “clean eating” means something different to everyone. In essence, the term centers on food that is unprocessed, minus GMO’s or anything artificially added to enhance food or beverages, such as antibiotics being fed to chickens or artificial sweeteners swimming around your favorite low calorie or no calorie drinks.

The truth is clean eating, at its purest form, means you’ve rid your body of dairy, gluten, wheat and only partake in certain types of food based on how they’re prepared or how an animal is fed. Grass fed beef or bison, antibiotic free chicken and a diet that includes gluten free bread or Ezekiel bread, dairy free foods and others of that ilk are the tent poles of eating cleanly.

Research has suggested wholeheartedly that your body was never meant to tolerate or being able to process wheat, enriched flour that you find in bread and dairy. Those who complain on stomach pains or cramps after drinking milk for example or that bloating feeling that follows one slice of bread after another is no coincidence given what we know about wheat and how the body essentially rejects it.

So if Panera, for example and not to pick on them, wants to talk about clean eating, they can’t include things such as nine grain bread, bacon that isn’t uncured or chicken noodle soup that have flour in those noodles.

That isn’t to suggest that food isn’t healthy per say, but when you talk about eating clean, food is often hard to come by that really fits that moniker properly and correctly.

Time Sensitive: Losing weight doesn’t take hours in gym

Exercise and losing weight are topics that are filled with myths.

From whether or not you should work out in the morning to wondering if eating carbs is good or bad, or the constant debate about weight training being a bad thing since you’ll build big, bulky muscles, working out ironically could be less taxing then figuring out what to believe.

But as much as misnomers make for interesting chatter, you’ll tend to get bogged down on the discussion if you’re not seeing results or are having trouble getting started as far as what to do and how to ultimately lose weight.

One fact remains about exercise, often overlooked for a number of reasons: you don’t have to spend hours and hours in the gym or at home working out to lose weight. The key to weight loss is caloric difference, meaning you are taking in less calories then you were previously and that exercise plays a role in burning them off.

Exercise is about heart rate, not sitting around and moving to burn those same calories versus the alternative of doing nothing. The average person exercises, or should, for 60 minutes per week.

Per week; that’s right not 60 minutes in a day or even 60 minutes by Wednesday after work but rather for the entire week. The obesity epidemic isn’t about individuals who work out for a few minutes a day but those who are getting absolutely zero minutes in as far as time spent working out.

So when you hear another myth, the one that states you can work out for 10 minutes every day and still benefit, is actually one you can’t debunk. Now, you could argue that those 10 minutes aren’t going to make much difference as far as weight loss goes but again that would be short sighted on your part. Any sort of physical activity, coupled with a diet filled with vegetables, protein and minimal starches (and yes this diet is the key) is going to jump start your metabolism into thinking it’s about to run a 5K when in actuality you may have just done some light weight training or walked around the neighborhood a few times.

Yes, that’s it everyone. Those 10 minute per day workouts hardly are worth skipping. In fact, they seem like the most realistic and adequate place to get started.

And at the end of the day, getting started or doing just a few minutes a day might just be better then what you’re doing now and be the catalyst to can the excuses of not enough time and find a way to a healthier you.

Scam Artists: Why fitness fails us when fads rule

Diet Pill Fads

When you think of fitness, you rarely think about being “scammed.”
That terminology typically is reserved for the likes of identity theft or some sort of credit card fiasco or your email being hacked into and everyone you know being riddled with spam from you.

But fitness? Scams?

The truth is the fitness industry is full of artists that paint this rose colored picture of you dropping pounds instantly or magic potions, creams and powders that halt your metabolism as you supposedly watch the fat melt away with little or no effort from you.

How exactly do you spot a fitness scam?

Anything that seems too good to be true most likely is exactly just that.

Think about items like the 10 minute trainer or six minute abs, and you’ll quickly see that most of that is all talk and action on your part but very little in the way of results. That isn’t to suggest that you need to work out for hours, but putting in six to 10 minutes of actual work in the gym isn’t going to get you very far.

Supplements, in all shapes and sizes, are marketed often as miracle drugs, particularly those that call themselves “fat burners.” The supplement business is a billion dollar one, and that means you have a sprinkling of real contenders with legitimacy but mostly pretenders that are These are unsafe and unproven, and really pale in comparison to actual vitamins or other supplements that are natural or herbal. Those words, however, are used incorrectly quite a bit and customers so desperately want to feel as though they’re eating healthy and correctly that they fall for that trap.

From taking supplements at home to at home equipment, the smart money is on choosing that next exercise piece carefully, mostly steering clear of ab equipment. Everyone wants that tone, lean stomach, so manufacturers and subsequent spokesperson gravitate toward that area of the body to push equipment that promises a six pack but actually won’t ever deliver as promised.

The old adage that “abs start in the kitchen” rings true always in that eating lean, high protein, low carbohydrates, will always beat an ab coaster, lounge or swing.

The penchant for the general public to want an easy fix makes sense. Exercise is hard, and gaining weight is easy but taking it off takes hard work, dedication and eating right. Anything less than that is just fast talking, con men and women at work.

Weight Lost: Why losing weight can be harder than you believe

Have you ever had someone downplay weight loss, specifically just how easy it is?

This person probably is someone you refer to as your “skinny friend” who, while you’re out ordering salad with oil and vinegar dressing, is having burgers and fries and living to tell about it after the scale says nothing has changed.
Meanwhile, you’re dieting extensively and nothing has changed. The scale hardly would be considered a friend of yours, and despite all your heartache, blood, sweat and tears and all that time in the gym, you’re at square one and are equal parts disappointed and frustrated with the results up to this point.

Struggling with weight even though you believe you’re doing everything right, sort of like having a budget and knowing you make more than your expenses, but yet wonder aloud why you don’t have any money at the end of the month.

Losing weight is similar to that in that you believe wholeheartedly you’re doing everything right, and you haven’t seen any results.

You really have to look closely at your diet and exercise habits, but also other contributing factors such as stress and work, relationships and other things of that ilk that also play into your endeavor.

For instance, you believe that you’re eating well, but maybe even after a small breakfast and healthy, salad and greens filled lunch, you’re eating a bigger dinner and find yourself picking and snacking all night.

Water, also, is the great equalizer to losing weight, and if you’re not drinking enough water, you won’t be able to drop pounds given that water often replaces hunger, especially when you’re body is just dehydrated, which masks itself as feeling as though you’re hungry.

Fast forward past the gym and eating, and look at your work situation in two ways: stress and sleep. If you’re not sleeping enough, you will put weight on as a result. The same can be said for being overworked and stressed out and your cortisol levels go through the roof, which means you might have a tendency to overeat, particularly sugar.

Losing weight, or trying to, tends to be harder than most believe. Those who are lucky to be able to have the “fast” metabolism might not quite understand what others go through who have situations or circumstances that include in and out of the gym that lead to weight gain, when all you want to do is take the pounds off.

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