A fitness journey is a long, experimental, and individualized experience. I used to take group exercise classes all the time in middle and high school, but it didn't get very serious until my freshman year of college. I began exercising five to seven times a week and incorporating resistance training into my routine. Though I've learned a lot over the past handful of years, there are a few things I wish I would've known from the beginning.
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1. Every Body Is Different
What works for someone else may not work for you. Everyone has a different shape, size, and metabolism. Certain diets may effect your body differently than other people. It's important to choose healthier options, eat your veggies, and keep your diet as consistent as you can, but know that sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find what's right for you.
2. Resistance Training Is Important
Cardiovascular training is great for your health, but having it as the only form of exercise won't give you maximum results. I didn't see a lot of progress until I started adding weight lifting into my workout routine. My old roommate, Kiersten, taught me how to use the squat rack and the "scary" equipment at the gym, and ever since them I've been reaching new goals regularly. Adding in weight or resistance training about three times a week is going to boost your metabolism, give you better results, and motivate you to keep growing.
3. Lift Before Cardio
When your goal is to burn fat, it's more beneficial to lift weights before you do cardio. Why is this? Cardio may burn more calories than resistance training in an hour, but lifting weights will keep burning fat throughout the day (even after you're done working out). With that, starting with cardio depletes your energy that you could be using in the weight room. Lifting heavier first will allow you to get a better workout in a shorter amount of time, burn more throughout the day, and have more optimal results.
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4. Use Your Resources
At JMU, working at a gym has given me the access to so many resources. More importantly, it's introduced me to a ton of extremely smart and knowledgeable people. If you know [or follow] personal trainers, dietetics majors, and/or passionate bodybuilders, don't be afraid to ask them for advice! I've learned a lot from dietitians, experienced lifters, and my coworkers (Claire and Trevor, love ya). With that, you can always turn to YouTube and Instagram for videos and tutorials. Learning how to do an exercise first will make you more comfortable trying new things at the gym!
5. Exercising Is A Mind/Body Experience
I used to hate yoga. I used to mindlessly exercise. Now, I take yoga at least one to two times a week and focus on mind-muscle connection every time I lift. Creating a connection from your mind to your body will make your workout more valuable. Whether it's flowing with your breath or thinking about your glutes as you rise from a squat, that connection will help push your body to new limits.
6. Think of Longevity Over Vanity
It's easy to fall into a pattern of checking your abs post-workout and taking a flexing pic to show your insta followers. Tracking your progress is important, but it's also necessary to expand out of that mindset. Not only does exercise make you feel your best, it helps extends your lifespan! Exercising safely and often is a great way to make sure that you stay mobile longer. Think of how much your body will thank you 10, 20, 30 years down the road just for what you're doing in the gym today!
7. Restricting Leads To Binging
I'm notorious for hitting the bulk candy isle at Martins and eating a pound of candy at a time. When I tell myself I can't have something, I only want it more. Instead of harshly limiting myself, I've started eating what I want in smaller portions. Minus my cheat days, if I have a sweet tooth I'll eat a serving of dark chocolate or whatever I'm craving so that I don't end up resorting to the whole bag. If you do end up binging, don't fret, just get right back on track the next day. Your body will forgive you if you forgive you.
8. Switch It Up
Doing the same exercise routine will not only bore you, it'll end up in a progress plateau. Doing the same exercises, lifting the same weights, and keeping the same routine will let you easily lose motivation. Step out of your comfort zone, try new things, and push yourself every time you're in the gym. Go harder, lift heavier. You'll be amazed at what your body can do when you try.
9. Fad Diets Don't Work
Fad diets lead to inconsistent results. In simpler terms, fad diets usually involve an extreme restriction in a short timespan. That restriction could be carbs, sugar, etc. but regardless, after a week or two, your body will go into a starvation state. During this, your metabolism will slow down to conserve energy. That being said, you may lose weight fast from your body using additional energy, but your body may also be taking essential nutrients from your muscles since it's not getting them elsewhere. When your diet is over and you go back to eating regularly, your metabolism won't be able to burn at the rate it did before the diet, resulting in your body storing more fat. Instead of starting a fad diet, it's important to keep a consistent diet that works for you. Choose healthier options, eat enough, and fuel your body.
10. Progress Takes Time
It's hard to look in the mirror after a hard workout and not immediately see a six pack. It's crucial to be in the mindset that progress doesn't happen overnight. You will see the results of your hard work, but it takes a few weeks to see that progress. Don't lose motivation when you aren't seeing what you're working towards right away. It will come. For instance, I've been trying SO hard to build the booty, but I didn't start seeing results for about a month and a half. (S/O to the Cherries On Top program by Trevor Lomax)
With a new year comes new goals, routines, and resolutions. Whether you're just beginning your fitness journey or you're a long-time exercise enthusiast, these 10 facts will help you make the most of your workouts.
Thanks for reading!
Peace, Love, Just Jordan. xoxo