I decided to go for it recently and to face my fears (or at least, I have begun the process of tackling one of them - becoming a fitness expert). Would I have late nights and early mornings? Would I lose sleep? Would I be able to work during the day, “mommy” in the evening, and then chase my passion at night? You betcha, to all of the above. And let me tell you, though it wasn't easy, it has absolutely been worth it. (Curious what it takes to build a side hustle while working a 9 to 5? Check out this awesome article to get an idea.)
I recently took the plunge, studied my ass off, test prepped, and got my NASM certification (while pregnant, working full-time, and raising a 5 year old). Awesome right? Wait… what does that even mean? It means I am actually qualified to train people at most commercial fitness establishments, provide fitness recommendations, and advise on fitness regimes and workouts. Does this mean I am quitting my day job to do so? No. BUT what it does mean for you is that not only am I going to be dishing out advice that I take myself, but that this advice is scientifically sound, proven, and backed by research. Thus, you should trust me (insert grin here).
Ok, let’s cut to the chase. Why am I telling you this? Well, mostly it's because knowledge is most powerful when shared, and during my early morning/late night study sessions, I came across numerous facts that I found interesting and useful. And… I thought I’d share. Whether you are new to fitness, a regular gym-goer, or a seasoned pro, these quick, helpful facts can provide inspiration, guidance, and are just good to keep in the back of your mind. Here we go:
Kids and Fitness
Here’s a startling fact to take in. Only 36% of children receive the daily recommended amount of physical activity; which is 60 minutes every day for kids ages 6-17. This may seem like a lot, especially considering that the recommended amount for adults is 30 minutes, 5 days a week (or however you want to break down 150 minutes/week) … practically a cake walk compared to what our kids need, right?
So, how do you ensure your kids are getting enough exercise? Think of ways to make small, incremental changes to your daily life.
- Have them accompany you when you take the dog for a walk (my son likes to ride his scooter)
- Take them with you to the gym. This way they can see firsthand how important physical fitness is to you and to others. Plus, most children's areas of the gym have basketball courts, jungle gyms, bouncy houses, etc. Not only will it help them release extra energy, it also keeps their little bodies moving.
- Get them involved in sports or extracurricular activities like dance, running club, etc. As an added bonus, these activities will help teach them important life skills, like teamwork, competition, and how to socially interact with their peers.
- Encourage playtime outside (rather than video games or Netflix marathons). This can be as simple as taking your kids to the park on the weekends or having them play hopscotch in the driveway, tag in the backyard... you get the idea.
And remember, your kids are watching YOU. Set a positive example for them by practicing what you preach.
Mood and Fitness
Stand up straight! Studies have shown that sadness and depression go hand-in-hand with poor posture. Chronic negative emotional states can lead to prolonged posture misalignment (think rounded shoulders and forward hanging neck and head). Poor posture leads to muscular tension, which leads to those annoying aches and pains that make you feel even more miserable. Movement has actually been shown to improve a person’s emotional state. So, the next time you’re feeling down, get up and get active. The positive effects of exercise on mood are often immediately apparent in a person’s posture.
Feeling upset about the latest Bachelor dismissal, sh*tty day at work, or recent date night disaster? Exercise helps alleviate stress and uses endorphins to boost your spirits. And if you have a friend/cousin/sister/uncle who is chronically depressed, try bringing them on regular walks with you. Not only is the fresh air and company good for the soul, but the actual physicality of moving does wonders for your posture.
Hitting Your Fitness "Wall"
A common feeling that regular exercisers experience is when they “hit the wall” while working out. Or, more simply put, completely run out of energy and find it hard to continue. What causes this? It’s actually the body running out of energy as glycogen stores are being depleted (tsk tsk on you for not eating enough carbohydrates before your sweat session).
How do you solve this? Think twice about working out on a completely empty stomach, and for those trying to build or maintain muscle, skipping meals is NEVER recommended. The body needs carbohydrates for fuel. If carbs aren’t present, the body is forced to use protein in it’s place, and protein is what allows you to build muscle. Very counter intuitive, right? Guidelines suggest eating, at minimum, 1 gram of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight, at least 30 minutes before you head to the gym. For a 125 pound person, this equals out to be around 57 grams of carbs.
Feeling Michael Phelps-ish? If you are an athlete or plan on doing especially vigorous activities, your carbohydrate intake increases anywhere from 2 - 4.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
Also keep in mind that fat is not easily digested by the body and can actually hinder exercise performance, so keep these levels low. As for protein, consuming up to 20 grams of protein prior to working out is sufficient for most non-athlete exercisers.
Fit Tips for Weight Loss
Is there a specific formula that is best for shedding unwanted pounds? Well, yea, there is. Diet and exercise. Burn more calories than you consume each day. Done.
Ok, let’s dig deeper. To get the most out of your training sessions, you will want to utilize exercises with higher repetitions and lower rest times (i.e. 1-3 sets of 12-20 reps, with 0-30 seconds of break time in between sets). The tempo at which you perform these reps is also important; muscular endurance is best developed with slower reps. Take a dumbbell chest press, for example: start with the weights at chest level and take 4 seconds to raise your arms, 2 seconds hold at the top, and 1 second to return back to the starting position. Now repeat.
For those who are cardio aficionados, circuit training is awesome for maximizing your time in the gym and increasing caloric burn by keeping your body constantly moving with minimal breaks. Most big-box gyms offer group fitness classes that provide circuit training, or you can even create your own circuits at home (with Pinterest, literally anything is possible).
Yay or nay? There is a roughly 90-minute window post-workout window where your metabolism is elevated and you are able to burn extra calories, so absolutely yay! When you work out, an oxygen deficit occurs (this can be felt in heavy breathing during and after exercise concludes). That deep breathing not only functions to help your body return to it’s baseline, but it also causes a temporary spike in your metabolism (keyword being temporary). This 90-minute window is a great time to replenish the body with some much needed healthy carbohydrates (or a post-workout protein shake, if you’re into that sort of thing).
Women and "Bulking Up"
Relax ladies! If it seems as though building muscle is not nearly as easy for you as it is for your guy, you are correct. For most women, strength training will not produce large amounts of muscle growth unless you are really, really trying to bulk up (i.e. it won’t happen by accident). Why? Because androgens (the hormones present in both males and females responsible for increased muscle mass) are lower in quantity in women than men, and thus, do not produce large amounts of muscle growth in women. So, unless you are going out of your way to lift extremely heavy weights or are taking supplements to build muscle… this problem will only exist in your head.
Singles vs. Doubles Exercise
Are you married or dating someone who could care less about working out? Bad news if you are… Your interpersonal relationships are heavily related to your success rate when it comes to exercise. And consequently, a partner’s attitude can exert even more influence that the exerciser’s own attitude on their success rate.
The dropout rate for married singles (situations in which only one of the two is exercising) is higher than for married pairs (situations in which both are exercising); further proof that finding a #swolemate is actually good for your health. Taking part in an exercise program together will not only strength your relationship by allowing you to sweat out negative vibes, but it allows you to mutually support one another while you get fit. Who doesn’t want to look and feel better…TOGETHER?
Maximizing Time Spent in the Gym
If you’re like me and you have 1052 things to do every day, spending 60+ minutes in the gym each night probably isn’t going to happen. And truth be told, you can get a lot done in 30 minutes, IF you use your time right. For cardio, moderate intensity of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week is a great starting point. For vigorous intensity (like HIIT training), 20 minute sessions 2-3 times a week is plenty. Add in another 20-30 minutes of resistance training and you’ve got yourself a great workout base.
If you are breaking into the weights/strength training scene, alternating upper body exercises with lower body exercises is a great way to minimize downtime when no exercise occurs. This can be done via supersets (ex: bicep curls paired with tricep dips) or via circuit training. Each muscle group has plenty of time to relax while another is being trained, so you spend less time resting and more time working.
Many people get hung up on self-doubt and insecurities early on in their fitness journey, which keeps them from being able to progress into becoming a regular exerciser. Thinking things like “I’m not in good enough shape to work out” or “people will look at me funny” are simply just excuses. MOST people who start a fitness regime start exactly where you are.
Shift your focus to what you want to become, rather than on what you are now. Focus on the behaviors necessary to improve your fitness, health, and overall wellbeing. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. Today is as great a day as any to get started.
Ok, that’s all I have for you today. Consider this your warm-up and let’s get on this fitness journey together.
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