Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Four inevitable fitness facts.

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In my previous post, (Weight Wars - When a fitness freak went astray) I shared with you all the story of my first fitness journey, the setback that got me off health track and my ambition to start all over again. While there were endless lessons, trial and errors based experiments, I also learned the four inevitable fitness facts from my previous pursuits. And what good would I be if I don't share them with you all?

1. Right now is the right time to Start!

We must understand the term "Start" before we go any further. You just cannot expect from yourself to last an entire 1 hour gym session on the very first day of your fitness pursuits. You cannot possibly create a 500 calorie deficit the very same day either.And it's not even your fault because modifying lifestyle does take a lot of effort and discipline. If you rush the process, you will end up either sick, injured or demotivated or all of these at the same time.

Start now by becoming aware of the current state of your health. Take tiny baby steps in the first week such as making a conscious effort to prefer water over anything else available. Start now by making an effort to reduce your meal portions and drinking water before and during the meal. I have this little rule of chewing each bite at least 30 times. It's all about slowly and steadily preparing your body for healthier adjustments ahead. Contribute a little more to your long term fitness goal by getting examined for any nutritional deficiencies or physical issues by your doctor.

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2. Redefine your ultimate fitness goal.

Physical appearance and shape or size is never a good indicator of anyone's health. Do you really want to diet your way into losing few pounds for an event? Many fad diets and drinks are out there in the market to help you achieve this short term goal. You may as well have been working out for a long time to fit into a certain dress size but once you land that size, then what?

I have learned that a practical approach to fitness does not involve a dress size. My earlier mistakes have taught me that weight loss can never possibly be an ultimate fitness goal. The idea of fitness doesn't revolve around a "commercialized" concept of being sleek and slender. What we all are actually seeking is "Health". We are all looking for good skin, great hair, toned bodies, tight abs and strong muscles. People wishing to see a drop on the scale through imbalanced diets end up with dull skin and digestive issues. Those who have nutritional deficiencies complain about inability to lose weight, hair fall, weak nails etc.

Healthy is your ultimate destination. Healthy doesn't ask for 30 days diet or 3 days smoothie fast. It asks for a lifetime commitment. If you stay true to your commitment, healthy will give you the best of all the worlds. Little advice: Take sometime to write down why you do you want to be fit/healthy. If any of your reasons involve external factors like nagging people, skinny jeans, a famous celebrity etc, you need to refresh your understanding of good health.

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3. Choose a practical workout:

Let me clarify few things first:
  • Cleaning, sweeping, doing dishes or whatever activity you will offer as an alibi is NOT a substitute for a dedicated workout session.
  • That sore feeling you experience as a result of a workout is NOT an excuse to not workout tomorrow.
  • Using heavier dumbbells will NOT make you look like a bodybuilder.
Now that I have answered the 3 most common questions asked around the topic of working out, let me proceed to define a practical workout.

A practical workout is simply the kind of a workout to which you cannot offer any excuses. There are those who have subscriptions to gym but are too busy to make it to the group class. And then those who are bored of the trainer's training style. Of course we have those as well who are too conscious of their inability to survive the entire training session. Some just don't find the idea of working out around people to be a comfortable one. And then we have the ones who just can't afford to enroll into a gym.

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Ever since the dawn of work out DVDs, the will to work out has found a way to be fulfilled. Affordable, time-friendly and minimal or no equipment demanding DVD workouts available in markets offers a wide range of training styles ranging from Cardiovascular sessions, Zumba dances, High intensity interval trainings, Kick-boxing, Power Yoga, Pilates to anything you can ask for. Moreover, the trainers behind these DVDs are mostly highly acclaimed fitness experts. You can pick a new trainer and a different training style for each day of the week with these DVDs and never get bored.

When I started using these workout DVDs, I used to opt for the ones with good internet reviews. However, I learned that the right trainer and the nature of workout program is more of a personal choice and interest in a particular training style. Since these DVDs comes with clear instructions on the right form, breathing pattern and modifications for beginners, you can easily avoid any possible injuries. As you can use them within the comfort of your home, working out early morning or at evening should become a feasible idea.

You don't have to finish an entire 30 minutes DVD in one go. Be honest to yourself by putting in your maximum efforts to take it as far as you can. Focus on the right form instead of the repetitions or time duration. If the maximum you can manage is first 10 minutes of a workout program, it's already a great start! Try to push yourself each day to do a little extra than the previous day and soon enough you will find yourself with the stamina to pull an entire session in one go.

If you have any physical issues like knee pain, shoulder pain before or during these workout session, do not forget to consult with you doctor. The best part about these DVDs is that you can choose which exercises you want to skip (for genuine reasons!) It's like being your own trainer.

4. Eat as often as you can:

Somehow people find it hard to believe when you tell them to eat as often as they can to get fit. I used to be the same. For me. creating a calorie deficit either meant eating bland green salads or going on long hunger strikes. With this practice, I don't remember if I lost any weight but I definitely became weak. I had zero stamina in me to workout. Mostly, I ended up falling sick. Other times, I ended up binge eating.

When I decided to integrate the concept of eating often during the day, I felt overwhelmed with the amount of meal planning i assumed there was to be done. However, practically speaking, eating every 3 hours actually does not ask for any special adjustments at all! Unlike protein, no carbohydrates or soup based diets which deprives you body of important nutrients, eating at regular intervals provides you the opportunity to integrate all kinds of food in your diet. All this only by mixing and matching your regular ordinary foods (No, Junk food is not regular food!).

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If you are already taking some supplements on doctor's advice, you know that your body has nutritional deficiencies. The famous calorie deficit we hear about when striving to lose weight does not involve slashing 1000 calories straight from your daily routine. Divide your day in 4 to 6 meals as suitable. The idea is to stay fed through the day with small portions of varying food at regular intervals so your body is constantly engaged in digestion process. This has proven positive effects on your metabolism! Focus on small portions of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat (if you are non vegetarian), pulses, carbohydrates such as rice, pasta or bread, dairy products and dry fruits on regular basis in your diet. Make an effort to drink water at regular intervals to help you stay hydrated. Staying hydrated before, during and after a workout is extremely necessary.

With that said, pay attention to your doctor's advise if you are restricted from a particular food category due to a verified medical issue.

In the end, remember to "Keep it all very simple!". Don't let the idea of the change in lifestyle overwhelm or stress you. By integrating one good choice at a time, you will be able to progress into an entirely healthy lifestyle.