Have you ever been confused by all the tricks, workout advice, and diets that float around claiming to be “The Secret” to health and fitness? Sometimes, it feels like the only people who have access to great results are the “other” people. As if there is some secret that the rest of us are missing out on. Have you ever felt that way? Well, so have I!
When I first started learning about fitness it was hard to know what would work, as well as have reasonable expectations for results. I’ve learned a lot since then, seen firsthand what works for me and the people around me, and learned that my body type is not designed to have a thigh gap. ; )
Whether you are totally new to the whole “fitness world” or have maybe hit a wall and are wanting to reach a new level, I hope this post can be helpful in demystifying fitness and weight loss, while giving you a starting place for further educating yourself and accomplishing your fitness goals! I am not an expert regarding fitness and weight loss, but this post is all about sharing things with you, that I’ve learned along my own personal journey and wish I would have known earlier.
Why Be Fit?
You can set out to accomplish something, but unless you have a why behind what you are doing it’s going to be hard to stay on track when the going gets tough. The “why” behind fitness is a personal and individual thing to some extent, but ultimately, the goal of fitness should lie in health, quality of life, and being a good steward of the body we’ve been given. There is also nothing the matter with wanting to be fit for a changed physical appearance. With a better level of fitness you will experience more energy, strength, better health and changes in your physical appearance that you are bound to be happy with. I’m just going to repeat myself again; it is ok, to want a change in your physical appearance, the key is keeping a balanced perspective.
The Very Simple Formula
In theory, staying healthy, trim, and fit isn’t that difficult. You just have to burn more calories then you are taking in, through food and drinks. But, is it really that simple?
Nutrition vs Exercise
Some people decide to just focus on eating less and eating well. That may get you to a place of being “skinny fat” but not fit. Other people focus solely on working out, and while they do have plenty of muscle, it’s kind of hidden under their “fluffiness”. What’s the problem? It clearly takes both, in order to achieve a level of fitness. But how much of both?
Most sources credit nutrition with about 80% and exercise with about 20% of your fitness level and weight loss results.
But…. What Kind of Nutrition?
This is where it can get reaaallly confusing. Lots of different people and sources say different diets or lifestyles are the best. Here are just a couple of the most popular that I know of:
Vegan, Paleo, Vegetarian, Dairy-free, Ketogenic, Gluten-free, THM, and a bazillion more….
If those names make your head spin or confuse you, don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. It used to be that way for me too.
From observing just the people in my circle of friend’s and acquaintances I’ve come to the conclusion that different diets/lifestyles work for different people depending on their body’s individual needs as well as their personal goals for health and fitness.
With that being said, there are certain guidelines that everyone can benefit from:
- Plenty of raw foods
- Consuming fermented foods to support gut health
- Low to zero consumption of processed foods
- Low to zero, intake of refined sugar
Beyond that, your personal dietary needs come down to macronutrients and what ratios of protein, carbohydrates, and fats your body does well on, as well as if you have any personal allergies to certain foods.
First step suggestion: Figure out what macronutrient ratios you do well on (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) Do this by making a list of what foods make you feel good and full of energy and a list of what foods make you feel sluggish and or bad. Look for patterns by finding out the macronutrients of the different foods in those categories for you. There is plenty of information online that can help you figure it out!
Sugar – AKA One Of The Worst Things You Can Put Into Your Body
It’s sweet, is in everything, and it’s more addicting than cocaine and heroine. Not only that but the havoc it can wreck on your body is simply not worth it! From high blood pressure, stressing your liver, increasing your risk of diabetes, cholesterol spikes, tensing blood vessels and making you ravenous for more food the things it does to your body are not pretty. Here is an excellent, informative read about sugar on Wellness Mama.
Even if you only make one change to your diet, removing added sugars from it can majorly impact your health and wellness. When you are consuming sugar regularly, your body turns it into glucose, and burns that instead of fat. Removing sugar from your diet will cause your body to start burning fat instead of glucose which is great when trying to lower your body fat.
First step suggestion: Pay attention to the ingredients list on things. If it has added sugar, steer clear of it, and go with an alternative option. For instance, buy tomato sauce and add your own spices to make it spaghetti sauce, instead of buying the ready made spaghetti sauce with sugar added to it. Small choices like that, can really add up to the overall sugar you consume.
Weight Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story
Body composition does though! Here is the thing, muscle weighs more than fat but is a lot more dense so it takes up less room. Just remember this: fat is fluffy, muscle isn’t. You’ll drive yourself crazy weighing yourself every day on a scale. Our body weight fluctuates so much throughout the day just with water intake alone (Our bodies are about 60% water!), not to mention many other factors. Try weighing yourself once weekly or twice monthly and under the same conditions each time (first thing in the morning is best). Also, record your measurements every other week.
Suggestion: If you are serious about your fitness/weight loss journey I’d definitely recommend getting a body caliper. It’s the most accurate method for measuring body fat that is available to the public. Unless you want to dish out a couple grand for water weighing. That is more accurate, but not nearly as practical or affordable.
Toxins May Be The Reason Why You Are Tired And Can’t Loose Stubborn Fat
We live in a world where every day, we are exposed to toxins. The air we breath, food we eat, body care products, household cleaners, exhaust from vehicles, it all puts toxins in our body. After so long of breathing, eating, and drinking toxins, Our bodies have to react accordingly, and the way they do that, is bad news for weight loss. In order to keep the toxins out of our blood stream and from overloading the liver, our body will surround them with fat. Here are two excellent articles that explain this in more detail:Yes, Your Fat Is Toxic and Toxins and Fat Gain: What You Need To Know. The good news about all of this is that we can remove the toxins from our body in a process called detoxing, and then the fat has the opportunity to melt away as well. Which is where cleansing comes in….
Cleansing right, will remove harmful toxins from the body, and reset your system. On a daily basis, it’s important to drink plenty of water, as this aids in the removal of toxins from the body. But it’s also good to do a deep cleanse on a regular basis. I try to do about 4 times a year. There are lot’s of different options out there for cleansing, but my favorite is the Isagenix cleansing system which supports the body’s natural detoxification systems. Easy, effective, and you can still go about your life without being stuck in a bathroom. Catch my drift?
First step suggestion: Check out the link to the above cleanse system (it really is amazing!), and read about other types. Find one that appeals to you and try it! Nothing ventured nothing gained. If the one you try doesn’t work, then try a different one. Just don’t give up!
Cardio = Good; Weight Lifting = Bad (For Women)
I’m sure every woman who has read about fitness and exercise has seen or heard something along these lines. Here is the truth: Unless you are supplementing with testosterone hormones, you WILL NOT get bulky like a guy. Women simply are not made with the hormones to support massive muscle gain. End of story. The truth of the matter is, that one of the BEST ways to shred the extra fat off and get toned, is to lift, and lift heavy. Yes, you will build muscle, but you will not have muscles popping up over night that you have no control over. It’s a gradual process, and if you decide you are happy with the amount of definition and muscle you have, you can decide to maintain that, and don’t have to continue building more.
First step suggestion: Educate yourself on the best weight lifting exercises along with their proper form. If you do decide to begin weight training, be sure you understand what the proper form for the exercise is, before beginning because without good form you can injure yourself!
HIIT Workouts: Your New Best Friend
How does burning calories up to 48 hours AFTER working out sound to you? Well then High-Intensity-Interval-Training (HIIT) is going to be your new best friend. Not only do they burn a ton of calories but they are also usually pretty short. I’m talking anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes short. Melissa Bender has some great HIIT home workouts on her website.
First step suggestion: read up on HIIT, and be sure to check out Melissa’s site. She has over 300 FREE home workouts.
Remember, “Fit” Looks Different on Everyone
Some people were not originally designed to have a thigh gap. I’m one of them. Some people have an easier time attaining a visible six-pack (such as my brothers) then others. Our bone structure, and build is unique to us personally and effects what “fit” will look like on us. It’s important to strive for fitness for you, and not what fitness looks like on someone else. And remember, ultimately fitness should be about health, and taking care of our bodies. Aesthetics do come into play, but that’s not what it’s all about.
Suggestion: Read up on the mesomorph, ectomorph, and endomorph body types. Figure out which one you lean towards, and gauge your expectations using that as a guide.
The Biggest Key Of All
Some may disagree with me, but I’ve come to believe that the BIGGEST key of all when it comes to fitness and weight loss is consistency. All of the information in the world, is only useful if it’s applied consistently, even if that means in smaller doses. It’s far better to workout daily for 15-20 minutes then to work out once a week for 2 hours. While the ideal would be to completely eliminate sugar from your diet, for most of us that’s not quite realistic and it’s much better to have a moderate allotted amount of sugar weekly (for me that would be in the form of ice cream on Friday nights) then to go without it for 2 weeks and then binge on everything sugary imaginable. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t make huge leaps of change right off the bat; meet yourself where you are at and build up from there. Because small consistent steps in the right direction give far better results then not doing anything at all.
I hope this information was helpful in demystifying and simplifying some important and key points of fitness and weight loss for you. I’d encourage you to use this post as guide for further educating yourself on the topics I covered, and see if anything is a good fit for you!
Have you tried HIIT before?
Have you ever cleansed? If so, how?Do you know your body type?