These are a few tips that I wish I had known when I started my health and fitness journey. Can you relate to them?
1) Failing to plan is planning to fail
A goal without a plan is only a wish; it won’t come true. Establishing a plan is a way to get organised in order to reach your goals. Here are a few strategies you could use in order to plan more efficiently:
- Prepare a grocery list and allow time to do groceries.
- Get rid of low quality foods you might have in your kitchen.
- Prepare easy dishes that you can fit into your busy lifestyle.
- Write down an example of meal plan that can fit your work schedule and lifestyle.
- Always have healthy foods in your bag so that you are not tempted when you walk by the bakery.
Although this is not an exhaustive list of ways to plan for success, these little changes will provide one vital outcome: Consistency and long term changes. Invest some time in your planning, and you will already be closer to your goals.
2) If my mind can conceive it, my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it (Muhammad Ali)
Visualisation is one of the numerous tool athletes use to reach their goals and perform at their best. See it in your mind’s eye as though it were already a reality. The more clear and vivid your mental picture of your goal, the faster it will come into your life.
3) It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path, listen to your own truth (Ram Dass)
It is not true because one of your friends followed a nutritional plan and training plan and it worked for him, that it should be the same for you. A very concrete example of this philosophy is professional bodybuilders. Despite all pro bodybuilders having a tremendous amount of muscle, they all use different approaches and methods of training, whether low reps, high reps, extended sets, compound exercises, isolated exercises…. their only point in common is that they all found what works best for them, through trial and error.
Another example would be the field of nutrigenomics, which is the study of how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to nutrients in the foods we eat. Indeed, while a particular nutrient may benefit our health, it might not be beneficial to someone else. This has been proven to be true with cauliflower, caffeine, tomatoes, green tea, carbohydrates and many more compounds found in different foods.
Again, you have to find what works best for you through trial and error. If drinking one coffee keeps you wired for 9 hours, your body might not be able to digest it efficiently… in other words, caffeine is not for you!
4) More doesn’t mean better, only better means better
Training longer and more frequently, running longer, eating too much when wanting to put on muscle are a few examples [of what?] that we, as fitness professional, can encounter. However, when these ideas are implemented in excess, they can be counterproductive and may not have the desired effect.
The same is true with calories and carbohydrate intake, less doesn’t mean better. For example, under eating and reducing carbohydrate intake will in the long term lead to muscle loss, thyroid downregulation and immunosuppression.
Remember that progress is all about getting the optimal stimulation that you need to create change.
5) You are only as strong as your weakest link
To improve overall strength, aesthetics, as well as preventing injuries, it is important to focus on your weak areas.
Your body has defensive mechanism that can hinder strength when lifting weights. You might have developed superficial muscles (the muscles you can see: chest, biceps, quadriceps…) but if your postural muscles (closer to your joints) are not strong enough to maintain a joint in a given position, they will automatically send a signal to your brain to reduce the strength the superficial muscles can develop, in order to reduce risks of injury.
For instance, we spend most of our days sitting which reduces postural muscle strength, in particular around our back and abdominal region. Indeed, these muscles are not solicited anymore as they do not need to counter gravity. In that situation it is needless to say that you will not be able to use your full potential strength when squatting, deadlifting or even overhead pressing. Always plan your session accordingly in order to improve your weak points and you will make your strong points even stronger.
6) Rome wasn’t built in a day
We all know it, but it’s something we sometimes forget to translate into our own fitness journeys.
Social media can be great at inspiring people, but it can also sell you the dream. The dream that an amazing body can be achieved in 12, 6 or even 4 weeks. Yes it can! But it all depends on where you are starting from, your genetics, exercise background, dieting background, lifestyle, age and obviously how you program your eating and training routines.
7) Slow progress is still progress
It is a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t reach your fitness goals overnight no matter how badly you want it.
Don’t make big, drastic changes. You won’t necessarily get drastic results. Why jump from 3 training sessions a week to 6? You will miss out on the progress that you could have seen at 4 and 5 sessions.
Drastic changes can also mean low sustainability, a perfect example would be the new year resolutions, always make small moves and leave yourself some room to adjust.
8) Comparison is the thief of joy (Franklin D. Roosevelt)
Don’t compare yourself to others, we all have different genetics, lifestyle, health and exercise background… let alone financial resources (it can be an investment to take care of your body and fitness levels).
You will always find someone more defined, athletic and stronger than you, Get over it!
Instead focus on yourself and try to be better than yesterday.