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Friday, March 22, 2013

10 Stupid Things That Are Keeping You from Having the Body You Want

Tired of spinning your wheels in the gym?
1)  Stupid Cardio-Are you still hanging all over the Stairmaster with your arms “rolled in” for 45? 60? minutes or more?  Even Shape magazine doesn’t still promote that kind of cardio. In case you haven’t noticed “we” don’t do cardio like that anymore. It’s a waste of time and may even be detrimental to your   fitness efforts (it raises stress hormones and breaks down muscle.) Moderate intensity, long-duration cardio is a thing of the past.  Frequent, short bursts of very high intensity cardio done either as a rest-based workout or, integrated with your resistance workout is the only way to go.  It builds muscle, boosts immune function, and burns more calories at rest. 

2)  Stupid self-talk-Do you say things to yourself like “I’m just not disciplined enough,” “I could never have a body like that, “to look like that, I’d have to spend hours in the gym every day,” “I’m too old to train hard enough to get results, therefore, attaining my goal is not possible.”  It’s amazing how we can talk ourselves out of anything hard.  Anything worth doing is going to take time, energy, and sacrifice. It may be a cliché to say “where there’s a will, there’s a way” but, it’s the truth! Statements like those above are nothing more than excuses.  If you can’t afford an attorney trainer, one will be appointed for you available to you through online books, newsletters, Youtube, or experienced friends. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way.

3)  Stupid weight training-Put away those pink dumbbells…please!!  Lifting high reps and low weight is not a useless training technique-if you already have a good base of muscle on you and you’re humming along, burning fat the way you should.  Lifting light as part of a comprehensive resistance training program is a valid variation that can stimulate muscle growth but if it’s all you ever do, you will be hard pressed to see results anymore than lifting heavy on every single set, rep, or workout will.  The point is, don’t be afraid to “throw” some heavy weight around.  Your body will get stronger and if that isn’t a reward unto itself, then remember that the more muscle tissue you have on you, the more fat you’ll be burning at all times! 

4)  Stupid diets-Thinking about giving the Baby Food Diet a try?  I hope you were kidding? You were kidding weren’t you?  How and what you eat is difficult to even address anymore.  The very word “diet” has become taboo.  So what do you call it if you don’t call it a diet?  An eating plan?  A food plan?  Sounds more like a financial plan than something you put in your mouth.  Food.  You can’t live without it so you better make friends with it.  It’s pretty basic really.  At each meal: eat lots of clean, lean protein, a small amount of healthy fat, a little bit of clean burning starchy carbs like yams, brown rice and beans (and there are others), add in a ton of green vegetables-all in reasonable quantities (I’m sure you’re reasonably aware of what that looks likes.) And no more snacking (more outdated science.)

5) Stupid self-abuse-What is your stress strategy? You haven’t got one?  Then you must be the only person I know living a stress-free life.  They used to say “stress kills.” No one has ever come up with a definitive reason why but we just know that it does (similar to the famous statement “I don’t know how to define porn but I know it when I see it.”) If you aren’t proactively managing stress then you are, in a sense, abusing yourself. Science has come far enough though, to recognize that stress will make us fat. Cortisol regulation and other indicators of stress can be impacted through activities like leisure walking, restorative yoga, meditation, playing with your dog, reading for pleasure, etc., take your pick. Go for a long walk to lower stress hormones-not a power walk, a leisure walk. Now that’s beneficial. Ignoring this aspect of your health will make you sick, fat, or both.  Just do it.

6) Stupid warm-ups-No warm-up is a really stupid warm-up. Beyond that, how can you develop a muscle if you can’t move it through its full range of motion every now and then? How can you move it through a full range of motion if things are so tight, they feel like they’re going to rip?  If you aren’t already doing some kind of myofascial release with a foam roller, medicine ball, lacrosse ball, etc. you are not properly warming up. Fascia covers every muscle and unless you’re loosening up that fascia, you’re not getting down to the muscle in order to affect its quality and density.  Following foam rolling, you should be doing a series of dynamic movements/exercises that are similar to the movements you plan on doing in today’s workout-only a very mild version of them. In addition, add in some corrective exercise to improve hip mobility, upper back mobility, etc. Sitting on the floor doing static stretches is fine at the end of a workout but they won’t prepare you for the tough workout ahead.  Failing to do a proper warm-up will keep your personal “hot spots” from improving and can eventually lead to injuries that will set you back again and again.

7) Stupid supplements-Telling you I’m going to give you a pill to make you skinny is like saying I’m going to give you some lotion that will make your cellulite disappear….if only….I am a huge fan of nutritional supplements IF, they’re backed by science and peer-reviewed journals.  Your friend’s sister’s cousin who lost 20 pounds by putting cayenne pepper on everything is not science.  Do your homework.  In my experience, a balanced hormonal environment is the key to “telling” your body “it’s OK to let go of the fat you were using to protect me; I’m feeling better now.”  How can you accomplish this? Through a lifestyle of challenging resistance-based exercise, 7-9 hours of sleep per night, clean eating (see above), stress management, and the right attitude. That said, most everyone would benefit from taking an uncontaminated fish oil product, a probiotic, a multi-vitamin, calcium/magnesium, fiber, and perhaps digestive enzymes. Always check with your doctor before taking any nutritional supplements-these are what have had the best results for me and many of my clients.

8) Stupid rehab-If you’re so worried about getting hurt that you choose to only do “safe” exercises that don’t challenge you, you’re just rehab-ing; you’ll never get stronger.  You can only do “rehab” exercises for so long.  Sooner or later, you have to move some weight around!  While most of us have a little tweak here or there, many of us are using this “injury” as an excuse.  If something is seriously bothering you, consult a good chiropractor, orthopedist, or other healthcare professional.  The sooner the problem is addressed, the sooner you can return to training in such a way that affects a change, not just spin your wheels in the gym.  Chances are the site of your injury or pain has little to nothing to do with what’s really wrong. A good practitioner will find the imbalance or weak link and help you correct it structurally and/or functionally so that you fix the problem at its source which quite often, is not the site of the pain.  If the problem is not fixable, (i.e. requires surgery, etc.- a whole other can of worms), then work around it.  But do work around it.  Avoiding all upper body work because your left knee is acting up a little doesn’t mean you can’t make some adjustments and work on upper body or do single leg work.

9) Stupid fear-Again, once you’ve warmed up properly, are reasonably sure you you’ve got a handle on correcting your wink links, you progressed properly-now, you have to go for it. Don’t be stupid about it; you have to be ready and reasonably safety conscious but, it’s only a little box…jump on top of it! “I haven’t squatted since college”…so what? “That incline is pretty steep…I don’t know if I should be sprinting…” What do you mean should?!  Again, the very nature of quality exercise is self-limiting.  You can’t lift what you can’t lift-assuming you have good form so-you’re limited by your current level of strength and it goes without saying that you don’t try and force it-that’s just, yes, stupid.  But there is no exercise that when stripped bare, and done at the appropriate time under the appropriate circumstances, can’t be beneficial.  What is it all the self-help gurus say?  Feel the fear then do it anyway.

10) Stupid ignorance-You can’t afford a trainer so I guess you won’t be able to work out. Never mind the thousands of people who came before you who also couldn’t afford a trainer yet managed to get lean and fit. It’s all out there on the internet, in books, magazines, through learned friends.  Yes, there’s a lot of contradictory information but sometimes, that’s the best way to learn because you can learn what works best for you. Pleading ignorance is never an excuse.  Take a class, pick a friend’s brain, find a fitness professional who will answer a couple of questions for you if you get stuck.  You might have a good deal of luck going it on your own and then hiring a personal trainer every now and again to make sure you’re on the right track.  This is a great option.  It’s important to realize that while there is a ton of information, conflicting information and misinformation out there, you will NOT be wasting your time if you use these experiences to learn and grow as an athlete.

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Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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