I meet very few people who are completely satisfied with how they look. That being said, most people I know are doing something to try to change their image. Lots of people try pills, wraps, fad diets, and everything else under the sun… but most people don’t see results until they buckle down and do some exercise. Here are a list of tips that I have found helpful throughout my fitness journey.
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Set Short Term Goals
Having a long term goal is fine. Maybe you have a certain weight you want to be, or a certain body fat percentage. Or maybe you want to be a body builder. No matter what your end goal is, set small goals. For instance, I want to lose 1-2 lbs this week. Or I want to go to the gym 5 days this week. Set goals that are realistic, so that you stay motivated and don’t get discouraged.
Reward Yourself with Anything but Food
It is important to celebrate your success, but the worst thing you can do is to celebrate by indulging into something you’ve been trying to avoid. My favorite way to reward myself is with new clothes, specifically work out attire. I don’t own a lot of exercise clothes because they’re expensive. So if I hit a certain achievement I go buy myself one new item, it keeps me motivated and I feel rewarded.
Watch your Macros
Most people know that if you want to change how you look, counting calories is important. But, a lot of people don’t know that it’s not just calories that you need to be keeping track of. The goal is to get the appropriate amount of Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats from the food you eat, while maintaining the correct amount of calories. All of these amounts depend on what your fitness goals are. So do your research and see what percentage of each you will need in accordance with your goals. It will take some playing around. I always struggle to get the right amount of protein in, and not go over on my calories. An easy way to track all of this is by using the My Fitness Pal app. It’s free and it tracks your calories, macros, water intake, exercise, and much more. It has a barcode scanner, which makes things super easy.
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Don’t Just Rely On What the Scale Says
There is so much more to tracking your progress than just monitoring your weight. One thing you should always do, whether you’re trying to gain weight or build muscle, is to take your measurements periodically, whether it’s every week, two weeks, or every month. At the least, measure your biceps, chest, waist, hips, thighs, calves, and whatever else you feel necessary.
You could be losing fat and gaining muscle, but you get discouraged because the number on the scale isn’t changing. Taking measurements will help to figure out what progress you’re really seeing. Another very important thing to track is your body fat percentage. A lot of gyms have things you an use to check your BF%, you can also buy a scale that tracks your weight, body fat and body water percentage, and your BMI.
Keep Track of Your Workouts
If you’re strength training, and training multiple muscle groups, it gets hard to remember what weight you were lifting on a certain machine. It’s slightly time consuming, but if you track it either on your phone, or in a journal, you will be able to see yourself getting stronger and stronger. Seeing myself go up in weight helps me remember that I am progressing, even if my scale makes me think otherwise. You can also keep track of your cardio progress, such as duration, length of time to hit “x” amount of miles, which days you did a certain form of cardio, etc.
Drink More Water
If something is wrong with you, drinking more water is almost always recommended. Whether it’s weight loss, muscle toning, acne, fatigue, headaches, morning sickness, anything! Try drinking more water, especially for weight loss. Drinking cold water first thing in the morning increases your metabolism. Also, drinking before a meal helps with hunger control, drinking it after a meal helps with digestion. Drinking it before bed helps to flush out toxins. Water is great.
Find A Way to Stay Motivated
Staying motivated is one of, if not the most, important factors of achieving your fitness goals. There are so many ways to keep your motivation up, some of which are; tracking your progress, reading fitness success stories, exercising with a committed partner, listening to motivational podcasts while working out, telling people about your goals, and the list goes on.
Do Cardio—The RIGHT Way
Ohh Cardio, how we hate thee! Just kidding, it’s awesome! IF you’re doing it correctly. If you’re trying to burn fat by doing cardio, there’s a lot of things to keep in mind. The most important of them is your heart rate. Your heart rate has to be in it’s “fat burning zone”, if it’s below you aren’t going to show improvement, and if it’s too high you could be burning muscle instead of fat, which would really put a halt on your progress. Your fat burning heart rate is 60%-70% of your max heart rate. Max heart rate is 220-your age. So to figure out the range you want to stay in, use these two formulas: for your lower limit– (220-your age) X 0.6 and for your upper limit– (220-your age) X 0.7. So, if you’re 20 years old, you’ll want your heart rate to stay between 120 and 140.
Do Strength Training– The RIGHT Way
Do your research! It’s obvious that if you want to build muscle you’re going to need to strength train. But, if you’re trying to lose weight you might not consider strength training as an important role. But let me tell you, it is. By having more lean muscle, you burn more calories at rest. Solely doing cardio can help burn fat, but it could also cause you to lose muscle, resulting in burning less calories at rest, and essentially stalling your efforts. That’s why a combination of proper strength training and cardio is so important. To see results the fastest, you need to make sure you’re doing strength training correctly. There’s so much technique behind strength training, I still learn new things about proper form, and so much more everyday. Research what’s best for you according to your goals.
Sticking to the same routine everyday can aid in stalling your progress. If you strength train, increase your weights, try different machines, combine different (but appropriate) muscle groups. If you do HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training), try adding weights to weightless exercises, or swapping out certain exercises for ones that train the same muscle groups. With cardio, try using different types of machines, you can rotate between a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, stair climber, etc.
The stairclimber is my favorite, and by favorite I mean least favorite. We have a love hate relationship. I honestly believe that it is the best cardio you can do. You only have to be on it for a short amount of time before you are dripping sweat. BUT– It’s boring. Sooo boring. Five minutes feels like thirty minutes. The best ways I’ve found to get through it is either to watch an episode of a good show on Netflix on my phone, the episode is just about the amount of time I need to be on the machine, or to go with my friend, who I never run out of things to talk about with.
Be Patient– Don’t Give Up
This is the KEY to success. Changing the look of your body takes time, no matter what your goals are. If you are at a standstill, don’t give up—get creative, do your research. And most importantly, if you fall off track, get back on as soon as possible. This is definitely a problem I continually face. I find myself cheating on my meal plan on Saturday and saying “I’ll just restart on Monday”. And I have to remind myself to knock that crap off! I tell myself everyday, “You have no right to complain about your lack of success if you’re not doing anything about it, or you’re doing something that will prolong your results.” So keep trying! If you don’t give up, it will happen.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and achieve your fitness goals? Comment below.
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