Excerpt from "11 Things You Must Know if You Made a New Year's Resolution to Get Fit" on Huffington Post
Did you proclaim 2014 your year to get fit? Here are a few things you should absolutely know if you are going to really make that resolution stick.
You will feel pain: You should expect to have some aches and pains, but that's usually a good thing. Muscle soreness is usually a sign that you've been working those muscles. Your first few ventures into the world of fitness are going to wake up some muscles you didn't know you had. The good news is that you can usually continue to exercise despite the soreness, and sticking with it means you'll get stronger. However, soreness is different from injury so please ease off is something feels wrong.
Take rest days: One of the fastest ways to guarantee a burnout or injury is to allow yourself zero days off. Without giving your body time to recover, it won't adapt to the stress of your training so you won't get stronger or faster. When you are planning your workouts, build in at least a day to take it easy.
Sleep is not for the weak: Muscles are not just built in the gym. You stress them in the gym, and then they build as they repair themselves while you rest. When you sleep, your body gets to work increasing blood flow to your muscles, dolling out growth hormones, and repairing tissue. Without enough quality sleep, don't expect to see results.
Don't compare yourself to others: You didn't make that resolution to get fit for anyone but yourself (hopefully), so your workouts should be for you too. Try to ignore the speed at which the woman is sprinting on the treadmill next to you, or how much weight that guy is loading onto the squat rack. Everyone has different goals and backgrounds, and that's okay!
Do not hesitate to ask questions: Rather than risk injury by jumping on a machine you've never seen before, ask questions. Everyone was new to exercise once! If no one friendly-looking enough is around, ask trainers or gym staff. I would even say ask Google or social media.
Watch your diet: Exercise seems to boost levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. So aim for lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and fresh produce to keep you fuller longer.
You can probably do with water: You're going to sweat, but let's not get carried away. It takes over an hour of intense exercise to deplete your calories, sugar, and salt levels to a place where you'd need a special drink to bring you back. Forget the sports drink and stick to good ol' H2O. If you want a little something extra, try a banana.
Ditch the scale: If your goal is to slim down, consider that not everyone loses pounds. For one thing, it is easy to overestimate calorie burn and overdo it with the post-workout snacks. But also, you will likely be losing fat and building muscles, which can lead to a stagnant scale. That doesn't mean you are not getting trim; you could be achieving your goals and not noticing it because you are fixated on the number on the scale.
Get ready to do more laundry: Your laundry pile might immediately feel more daunting because you are now working out. But remember it is for a good cause :)
Success takes time: If your first day at the gym was January 1, you are probably not going to be running any marathons in February. Going too far, too long, too fast, or too heavy too soon can lead to injuries and a burnout. Gradually work toward your goals by increasing components like mileage or weight slowly, keeping in mind that fit bodies aren't built in a day.
Cheers Eights & Weights!
Photo credit: Sportyafros.com