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Posts Tagged ‘gym’

Ah, the new year is upon us, which means the gym is flooded with new year’s resolution people. Most regular gym goers hate this time of year because the gyms are crowded, but know it will be short-lived. I get inspired by more people trying to become healthier.

One of the main reasons I think people quit coming to the gym is that it seems so complicated. But here’s the secret: It isn’t.

I’ve had a couple of people ask me to go with them to the gym and learn how to weight lift. I go, and the main question I get afterward is, “That’s it? That seems to simple.” Yep, it does, and it is.

So why does it seem so complicated?

  • Trainers make it that way. I’ve blogged about this before, trainers are salespeople. Their job performance at most gyms is based on how many of their clients they get to renew their training packages. So think about it, their goal is convince you that you need them, and one of their favorite ways to do this is to make things look so complicated that you couldn’t possibly do it on your own.
  • Gym regulars get bored. So they try new things. Or, they haven’t realized yet that muscle confusion is (mostly) a myth. This is one of the reasons why you see the regulars doing crazy, complicated things. But you don’t need to. After a couple of years, if you get bored, sure, go ahead, try something fancy now and then, but when you are just getting started, you don’t need to make your workouts complicated.
  • Gym regulars have different goals. Yes, professional athletes and bodybuilders do more complicated things. That’s because they have vastly different goals than most people. Unless your goal is to become one of them, you don’t need to do fancy stuff.
  • The fitness industry tries to hook you with “new” things. This isn’t necessarily bad, I like trying new classes and such. But, as someone who has been an athlete since age 4, I can tell you that “new” is actually “repackaged.” For example, High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) looks suspiciously like the old lactate training I did in high school swimming.

Recommendations for the average person and general gym-goer

Unless you are planning to become a professional athlete or fitness competitor, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Focus mostly on diet. This is, by far, more important than the gym. If you want to hire a professional, I recommend a registered dietician vs. a trainer.
  • You don’t need to do more than an hour per day at the gym, 5-6 days per week. I plan to do a whole post about this someday, but seriously, no more than an hour per day, I don’t care what the gym regulars or trainers tell you.
  • You should enjoy your cardio workouts. I personally like to learn a new skill through cardio (such as dancing, karate, etc.). I can’t stand to watch the bored people on the cardio machines at the gym. Unless you genuinely enjoy that, don’t be one of them. Find something you enjoy and…
  • Know your target heart rate and make sure you’re in it during all cardio sessions.
  • Weight training should be straight-forward and simple. There are two books I recommend (pick one, then when you get bored, go to the other) to get started:
    • Body Sculpting Bible (the link is for the women’s version, but there’s one for men too).  I used to carry this book to the gym with me everyday I was on the program. I used it so much over a couple of years that I destroyed the binding! I love that it shows pictures, and comes with a DVD to show you how to do every exercise.
    • Body for Life. Ridiculously simple weight-lifting and cardio program.
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I’m not anti-trainer, I do think they can help you on your path to health, but it’s important to realize that at most gyms they are employed as salespeople, not as trainers.

If you’ve ever been around a corporate gym franchise, trainers come and go like crazy; my coworker is on her fourth trainer in less than a year. Why? Most commonly because they didn’t meet their sales goals.

An acquaintance of mine recently lamented on how, when he was a trainer, he dreaded the end of the month, because if he didn’t meet his sales goals of renewals and new clients, he’d get pulled into a meeting, reprimanded, and threatened with being fired.

I’ve personally walked through trainer-only areas (because those of you that know me know I think rules are suggestions) and seen the sales goal boards I am so familiar with from my early career days selling advertising.  The goals weren’t caculating how they’d helped their clients reach their goals, they were calculating how many clients they’d sold more training packages.

So, speaking from a sales perspective, their best strategy would be to have you see improvement and teach you a few things, but not see enough improvement or learn so much that you no longer need them.

So go to them if you need help with your fitness routine, but don’t lose sight of the fact that they make money the more you come back to them.

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(says my body this morning)

WHY are we up at 5 am? We’re supposed to get up at 6 am! I want coffee. Tell the Executive Assistant at work no more early morning meetings. The gym is less packed at this time, but I want to go an hour later.

Wait, we’re doing weights this morning? Are you crazy? We did Pilates with satan incarnate last night. Wasn’t that enough pain for us? We’re supposed to be doing cardio today. I DON’T CARE that you need day-old hair today and thus switched cardio to tomorrow.

I’m hungry.

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1. You may not realize what you look like

A woman standing in front of a mirror with cuttings from a magazine showing skinny models

“untitled” by Danielle Henry, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I went from a size 10 to a size 0-2. But when I still look in the mirror, I see a size 10. It’s amazing the tricks your mind can play on you. I’ve known other women that have had this issue as well. It’s a challenge for them to see what they really look like, which can cause a danger of going overboard (see #12).

2. Your health costs probably won’t change short term

A jar labeled "Health" full of money

“Health” by Pictures of Money, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Long-term studies have shown that regular exercise and reduced belly fat can significantly reduce your chances of a wide variety of ailments. But, in the short term, your health costs probably won’t go down and may, in fact, go up. Gym memberships, your new diet (see #6) and and increased tendency to go for regular check-ups can add up.

Also, the more athletics you do, the more likely you will gain a lot of sports injuries, which, trust me, are costly.

3. It’ll get really hard to find clothes

A man walking between large stacks of clothes

“Men Shopping for Clothing Accessories” by epSos .de, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I can no longer find clothes in regular stores. Unless, of course, you want to wear teenage-looking clothes, then, by all means, hit up the juniors department. Stores stock-up what they can sell and they don’t sell many small sizes. So, it can be very frustrating to find the sizes you need when you become fit.

It’ll also get harder to find clothes that are the smaller sizes that actually fit your arms and legs. Most clothing designers assume that if you have a small waist, you’re going to have thin arms and legs, not muscular ones.

4. Store clerks won’t like you

A woman store clerk with a non-friendly look on her face

“Store Clerk In Blue” by Phil Warren, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Overweight people complain about customer service bias, and I can see that. The truth is, fit people have the same issue. I can’t tell you how many dirty looks I’ve gotten when I’ve asked a store clerk for help finding a small size. They don’t have any tolerance for a skinny person complaining about having clothing issues.

5. Alcohol looks a lot less enticing

A fruity looking pink alcoholic drink with an orange slice

I bet this is over 400 calories and your entire sugar intake for the day. “Colorful Drink at 32 Degrees Bar at Urban Crust” by Nan Palmero, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When losing weight, you have to limit or give up alcohol. It’s not uncommon for fit people to stop drinking or, at the very least, significantly reduce their alcohol intake, even when they have hit their goal.  First, because their tolerance has dropped, but second and most common, they look at alcohol and think in their heads, “It’s not worth the calories/macros.”
6. Your grocery bill will be really high
A pile of fresh vegetables on a kitchen counter

“Farmer’s Market Bounty” by ilovebutter, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Healthy food is expensive, you can eat a lot more of it for the same amount of calories, and if you are working out more, you’re going to need to eat a lot more. This is the trifecta for an insanely high grocery bill.

See How much I spend on groceries

7. But your restaurant budget will go down

A sandwich made of fried chicken, egg and cheese

SO DISGUSTING! “KFC Double Down “Sandwich”” by Michael Saechang, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As you continue to learn about nutrition and how “unhealthy” foods make you feel, you’re going to be eating out at restaurants a lot less. You’ll find yourself saying to your friends and family “Why don’t you come over and I’ll cook?” or “How about I meet up with you all after your dinner out?”
8. It will affect who you date
A couple in front of food at a restaurant

“Date Night” by Amy Truter, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This one is not about appearance, it’s about lifestyle. If you are busting your butt at the gym most days and eating really healthy, you’re most likely not going to be compatible with a junk-eating couch potato. Instead, you’re going to find yourself gravitating to someone with a similar philosophy on a healthy lifestyle.
Sadly, I’ve also heard of this impacting marriages, where one spouse decides to make healthy changes/wants to be more active and the other refuses to do so.
9. It will affect where you live
A street view of a gym

An apartment may look a lot more enticing when you see there is a gym around the corner. “Gym.” by A National Acrobat, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Figuring out what the nearest gym options are, what the nearest activities are, and where the nearest parks are will become a major factor in determining where you live.
10. Your body will become something that is analyzed

For some reason, it’s very socially acceptable for people to comment on fit people’s bodies (think about how much talk their is about Michelle Obama’s arms). Most of these are positive, but not always, as the above example shows.

You might also find that you do this to yourself. I find that I regularly talk about my body, my diet, my weight, etc. Somethings this is a good thing, but sometimes these aren’t topics you should discuss. It depends on your audience and if you are obsessing or not (see #12).

11. People will explain to you why they can’t do it

A white board drawing of a stick girl and the words "Can't do this"

“Can’t do this” by Quinn Dombrowski, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This one is the most awkward for me because I never know what to say. I’m a very non-judgmental person and I definitely understand that I don’t know everyone’s full circumstances and there may be legitimate reasons why they can’t, but I don’t always agree that someone’s reasoning for not taking care of their health is legitimate. I had a coworker once tell me that she could never look like me because she’s “always been a bigger girl” and that I was naturally thin. I’m actually not naturally thin, but I figured it was best to keep my mouth shut.

Another rendition of this is statements like, “I wish I could look like you” and “I could look like you, but I like (insert junk food) too much.” There is no good answer to any of these statements; if you try to tell them they could, they will get mad, and if you agree with them, you may insult them. I just try to change the subject.

12. It’s easy to go overboard

A thin woman's stomach with a balled-up measuring tape in front of it

“Body Image. The subjective concept of one’s physical appearance based on self-observation and the reactions of others.” by Charlotte Astrid, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The fitness industry makes money on self-improvement, so they have a vested interest in you always feeling inadequate and needing to improve something. I had a trainer recently say “maintaining is not a goal” in response to me telling him that was my goal. I disagree; if I can stay at this same fitness level as I continue to move into my later 30’s, I’ll consider that a win.

Fitness is also an easy problem to fix, which can set-off a vicious cycle of needed self-improvement. It’s not uncommon for someone to have another problem in their life and vent it out by doing more in the fitness realm (example: men tend to get in shape during a divorce to raise their self-confidence). This can be healthy, but it can also lead to obsession when you realize that it’s one part of your life you can easily control.

What would you add to this list?

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A table full of storage containers with portioned food in them.

Click on the photo to see the source.

 

Lifehacker Vitals posted a blog post about Exercise vs. Diet: Which is more important to weight loss. It was a really informative article, but also introduced me to the idea of “kitchen training.” I spend 6 hours a week in the gym training, but I’ve never thought of the time I spend preparing healthy meals in my kitchen as “training.”

So I started devoting a chunk of time each week to it and I’m surprised at not only how much it helps, but also how much I’m able to prepare in an hour or so a week! There are a lot of things, like baking chicken and cutting it up, where about 20 minutes worth of the activity is passive, meaning you can use that time to do other things. That’s where you see the real time savings.

That got me thinking, how much time does it really take to do some basic things in the kitchen that would mean healthier eating and money savings?  Check out some of my findings below and do some timing of your own!

 

Making espresso and milk at home

Active time: 1 minute to load the coffee in my brewer

Passive time (brewing on the stove): 6 minutes

Total time per week: About 14 minutes since my espresso makes multiple shots per brew

Coffee and milk supplies from the store for a month: $12

Starbucks latte 5 x per week for a month: $80

 

Making salads at home for lunch

Active time: Preparing chicken for baking: 10 minutes once per week to prepare the chicken and cut it afterwards, portions into the freezer, wash the pans used, etc.

Passive time (baking): 20 minutes once per week. I use this time to chop the cabbage and other ingredients I add to the salad.

Daily active time to put the salads together: 2 minutes

Salad and (including chicken) supplies for a month: $40

Daily salad from Salata with extra chicken, 5 x per week for a month: $220, not to mention the time saved going to Salata to get the salads.

 

Unloading the dishwasher

2 minutes and yet I never do this! I can totally spare 2 minutes once per week.

 

Washing dishes

I had tons of dishes including pots and pans to wash the other day. It took 12 minutes. Typically it takes me 5 minutes or less.

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I was at our local gym and one of the trainers had set up a table to measure your body fat for free. Obviously, I know the gig well, he will measure your body fat and then guilt you into realizing you need him. But, since I don’t have a way to measure at home, I figured I’d stop by.

Mine came back 16.6% body fat and a BMI of 20.8, which is way lean (but not too lean) for a woman my age. He just looked at me and said “Um, whatever you’re doing, it’s working. Have a nice day.”

YEAH BEOCH!!! WHOO HOO!

Sadly I don’t think my trip to Victoria’s Secret will go as well. I might have lost another cup size (a sadly side-effect of losing body fat). Hopefully not.

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