So… you are ready to make a change. You are ready to commit to a healthy lifestyle and have the fit body that comes with it. GREAT! The problem is that effort has to come first and the results a little later. Delayed gratification is not something that many people are good at anymore. If you can make the commitment for 90 days, we can change your life.
The outlined here can be done by yourself, but most people are not self-motivated to keep to the plan on their own. Classes are really good for accountability and ensuring you do the correct exercises safely in your workouts. Personal training is the absolute best way to make it happen but can be cost prohibitive. When the going gets tough, your trainer or classes can make the difference between shopping for fun new clothes or telling people that you tried it once but didn’t finish. Don’t make things harder than they have to be… find classes or get a trainer.
You are going to be exercising for roughly 60 minutes a day, 2-3 days a week for the first four weeks. No excuses! For many people twice a week is good for the first couple weeks. Put it on your calendar and make it happen somewhere in your day. These workouts are not just running a 12-minute mile on the treadmill. These workouts need to be 50% cardio and 50% strength. Workouts are changed up every time! Different order, different exercises different pace and with different intervals. This is where a personal trainer or good classes are extremely helpful.
Begin cutting back on the junk food. Sodas, snacks, desserts, eating out, bread and alcohol are the big ones. Start out by cutting however much you would normally eat by half. You can stop cold turkey but you may end up VERY grumpy. You are already going to be sore for exercising, so you might want to have something to even out your mood. Each week cut your consumption of these foods by half until they become a special treat for you instead of something that you eat each day or without thinking. These extra calories can sabotage the best exercise plans.
Rest is just as important as your exercise. The increase in activity will require additional rest as well. Rest means sleep. 7-8 hours each day is ideally where you want to be. Too little rest can lead to injuries, time off from your workout plans and possibly disruption of your day to day life. This can be difficult, but good planning can give you more time than you thought possible. The first month will be the hardest on your body; this is why you exercise only two times a week initially, your body will need the rest time. Remember that most of the healing from your workouts is done while you are sleeping. The more sleep you get, the more throw your recovery will be each day.
Start eating the foods that help your body. We suggest that you find 4-5 recipes that are healthy and make that your starting point. You can expand your range of meals from this point. Make your lunches (and more if possible) for the upcoming week over the weekend while you have discretionary time. Place them in the refrigerator where you can just grab one and go or warm it up. This convenience will pay off BIG! Because of the increase in activity, you are going to need good fuel for your body; otherwise, you will be VERY tired.
Month number two is the time to increase the training workload. Up the intensity in your exercises, stay for 60 minutes but do exercises with a purpose. This is why we like to exercise for a time period; increasing the intensity is very simple without overdoing it. You should be exercising 3-5 days a week, adjust your workout schedule with your soreness and fatigue. Remember to keep changing things up every time.
The junk food should be at a minimum by now. Your appetite should be large also; eat good healthy snacks during the day. Not just celery sticks. Fruits, mixed nuts, a protein bar, dried fruit are all good. Do a google search and start picking out things your enjoy. Keep in mind that this is a snack, not a meal.
Month number three is where things can actually happen! Start looking an activity you didn’t think you were capable of doing or might never do. Doing these things with a friend adds to the enjoyment and helps with getting out of your comfort zone. This is in addition to your normal workout schedule. You don’t have to be first or kill yourself with this, one activity per week will be fine. Sprint triathlons, bike rides, hiking, 5K runs or longer, sporting activities like kickball, basketball, Spartan races, swimming etc. You don’t have to make these things a permanent fixture of your life but try them out, if you don’t like the activity look for something else. One activity may lead you to something you really enjoy. Remember… you are making a 90-day commitment.
You can begin to change the makeup of your workouts in month three. If you enjoy the cardio part more, do 70% cardio and 30% strength. Change is good as long as it isn’t radical, don’t move to a 90% and 10% ratio. You can begin to make changes that maximize your enjoyment of the workouts.
We all have a certain type of figure in mind that we would like to have. Reaching that goal may require weight loss, bigger and/or more well-defined muscles, increases in strength, building endurance (running, biking etc), or even maintaining the figure you already have. There are many ways to exercise, but they are not equivalent. What you want to achieve should depend on which fitness program you use. The blog post you are about to read compares six different approaches to getting or staying fit. My clients are roughly 90% female and are mostly between the ages of 25 and 55, so this blog was written with this demographic in mind. Although what is addressed below will apply to women in this category, most of the information is universal and will be relevant for a wide range of people.
Here are the main workout categories:
I will discuss pros and cons of each workout, and have assigned them grades on a scale from 0-10 (worst to best) in each of four areas:
2. Probability for injury
Your Own Workouts:
Doing your own workouts is by far the most economical and can be convenient. There are as many problems as there are positives.
The price point is great… free. However have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s worth what you paid for it”? Exercise whenever you want. The ultimate flexibility with your schedule. Freedom to do whatever exercise you like.
Many times when you design your own exercise program it is what you want to do NOT what will bring the best results. I have meet people that workout 5 and 6 days a week to their own “program” but I can’t tell. Good results are not that easy to achieve. Fitness isn’t rocket science but it does take an education.
One of the biggest problems with doing you own routine is there isn’t anyone that. You are held accountable to. Cut corners, stop early and skipping exercises tend to be the norm. Nobody wants to admit this… but that’s the way it is.
We have all seen the person lifting a weight that is too heavy and with really bad form. They have probably dropped the weight and strutted around after the set. The problem, there isn’t anyone to monitor proper technique or select the correct weight. Many times the ego takes over and everything else goes out the window.
Results are a mixed bag. Initially you will see result of your efforts but they will very quickly plateau. Without the correct variety and changing the routine results are short lived.
IT’S BORING! Working out on your by yourself is not fun! Motivation will fall off very quickly for most people.
Effectiveness: Poor to good 0 to 6
Probability for injury: Likely 7
Price: Very affordable 10
Convenience: Very 10
Most people know of, or own, workout videos such as the Jillian Michaels Workouts, P90X, Insanity, etc. Different videos will present you with different types of workouts. However, no matter what video you use, there are some features they all share. One thing to remember is that this is a virtual person leading you through the exercises. We have all seen their successful before and after photos, and read their inspirational testimonials - but these typically don’t translate well into the real world. Most of us can name someone we know that has one or all of these videos, and who still hasn’t been very successful at their weight loss and/or fitness goals.
The good thing about professionally marketed exercise videos is the people doing the workouts have excellent form and posture (this is not always the case for Youtube videos), which lends them credibility. Also, completing each exercise just as the video instructs will help keep you safe from misalignment and injury. Some videos provide hard, medium and easy modifications to certain exercises, so that you can tune the workout to your current fitness level.
One problem with a video workout is you can work as hard or as little as you want to in every workout, without a lot of accountability. The relative intensity of your workout is determined primarily by how you feel when you hit “Play”. A stressful and frustrating drive home from work can destroy your motivation. On good days, you may be super into it; on bad days you will just go through the motions. Let’s think more closely about the “super into it” workout - which sounds good, but may not be. Unbridled enthusiasm can be dangerous, because there are types of pain that you shouldn’t be working through. I wish I had a dollar for every time a client has told me that their shoulder is sore, knee hurts, etc., after doing an Insanity video. You also need to keep your expectations in check - videos don’t typically teach you how to manage that. We all have good and bad days; you will not always have a phenomenal performance. Another problem is that, with videos, you can easily be distracted and act on those distractions. It’s pretty typical for people to stop to answer the phone, send a text message, return an email, or flat out just stop when you don’t want to exercise anymore. And, don’t forget about fast forwarding to your favorite part or just redoing parts of the video that interest you most - which may prevent you from getting a well-rounded workout. (Although I can’t blame you for wanting to fast forwarding through the bad jokes and annoying monologues) Finally, if you have an ailment or injury, most videos will not provide alternatives or modifications to their exercises.
Effectiveness: Poor to good 0 to 6
Probability for injury: Likely 6.5
Price: Very affordable 10
Convenience: Very 10
Big Box Gyms:
A “Box” gym, like L.A. Fitness, Any Time Fitness, or the YMCA, has both advantages and disadvantages. Like fast food restaurants, they seem to be everywhere. You don’t have to drive far to find one.
These gyms are normally located on major traffic areas. Chances are you won’t have to drive very far out of your way to get to them. You can normally stop on on the way to or from work or while you are out running errands. Gyms like these are usually not expensive. So, if you are on a tight budget, this may be an important consideration.
There is typically a high turnover rate at box gyms. The management and trainers tend to change every few months. One reason for this is because box gyms don’t pay their staff well. It is very difficult to hold onto good people when they have trouble making ends meet financially. This translates into poor quality and dependability over the long run. Trainers and managers also tend to be young, with very little experience. A 21-year old trainer doesn’t understand how the knee pain of a person in their forties feels - in fact, they usually don’t understand many types of acute or chronic physical limitations. Inexperienced trainers can’t anticipate when problems or injuries are likely to occur, and are also not skilled at designing alternative workouts to accomodate or prevent injuries. Managers often don’t know when or how to assist members with personal problems related to the workouts and/or trainers - and often, because of company policy, are prevented from doing so.
Big gyms have a lot of corporate policies that require strict adherence by employees. Many trainers resent operating within these limits. Even if they would like to host special events or bring in “outside the box” exercises, they can’t. Big gyms have a lot of limitations placed on trainers and management staff, which can, in turn, limit your experience.
Effectiveness: Poor to good 6.5
Probability for injury: Likely 6.5
Price: Very affordable 7.5
Convenience: Very 7.5
Super-intense gyms have become very popular. Some would even say a cult following has developed. They can offer a very different experience to the Big Box gym, which can be refreshing. They tend to be very results-driven, and they workouts are typically hard-charging.
People are usually very proud of attending a “Super-intense” gym. This is understandable, as accomplishing a hard workout is certainly something to be proud of. Super intense gyms are a good fit for people who have jobs that require them to be at 100% physical effort at a moment's notice. Examples include fireman, policeman (really, most all first responders), and some military assignments - you get the idea. A gym that demands all the exertion a person can possibly put out fits nicely into the routine and culture of people with highly physically active and demanding careers.
Super-intense gyms like this will provide results up to a point. You will get stronger and lose weight.
One problem with giving 100% all the time is that the body will begin to wear out. Injuries and premature aging of body tissues are common with super-intensity workouts. Keep in mind that recovery time is just as important as the workouts. Chiropractors have said repeatedly that super-intense gyms (like Crosfit) keep them in business.
The instructors at super-intense gyms tend to be single-minded and narrowly focused. “Harder and more” is the prevailing mantra, regardless of the client and the exercise. I have listened to many people who have gone to super-intense gyms complain about not getting enough instruction on how to perform exercises safely. When the instructor is convinced that their tool of choice is a hammer, they treat everything like a nail (meaning - you!). This is not how fitness works. Injuries will set you back anywhere from two weeks to many months - and sometimes, permanently. I know many people who have told me that they are no longer able to do the workouts they used to enjoy.
Many of these super-intense gyms have a particular series set of exercises they do, without any deviation from this routine. This limits the trainer’s creativity and thoughtfulness, and for the client it often means that workouts become stale and boring. Often, motivation to continue exercising can drop, and people may burn out and stop trying.
The mentality of a super-intense gym can be a lot to take. Sometimes, competitiveness between clients is fostered and encouraged, instead of instilling a sense of comradery and support. This type of hyper-competitive atmosphere often results in unfriendly, unwelcoming, and arrogant attitudes among members.
Effectiveness: Good 8
Probability for injury: Very Likely 9
Price: Very expensive 10
Convenience: Good 7
Locally-owned studios typically either shine or fade out of existence. A local studio can be a beacon of light in the dark night of exercise mediocrity. They tend to excel with personalized attention and diverse and changing exercise programs. Because they are usually individually, owned, they don’t have restrictive corporate policies that constrain format. Thus, they can adjust the program to fit whomever happens to attend a given class. In many cities, locally-owned studios are the best the places to exercise.
Local studios tend to have excellent and motivated trainers who have your best interests in mind. They are typically people who have been in the fitness industry for many years, and who are looking for more creative freedom and better pay. Local studios are usually the only places they can find this combination. Local studios are vested in cultivating long-term relationships and ensuring happy clients - good trainers make this possible.
Most local studios will take the time to correct poor posture and bad form. This keeps members from developing new or re-activating old injuries. Experienced trainers can perceive when a client isn’t at their best (e.g., tired, sick, upset) and keep an eye on them, which also is an important safeguard against getting hurt. Safety is something all gyms mention - but not all gyms take the steps needed to prevent injury. Knowledgeable and conscientious trainers prevent the possibility of injury with good, solid instruction and careful monitoring of all members in a class.
Local studios typically hold classes during the most popular hours to exercise: before and after the 8-5 workday. Some studios also offer lunch and day classes. A perk of local studios is that they often have special events throughout the year that offer fun and unique exercise challenges. These events can be nice break from the regular class schedule, and can provide a big calorie burn.
Trainers at local studios highly value their members, and this is often reflected by excellent “people skills”. It is common to find instructors chatting with members before and after class, catching up with members during training, and making sure everyone feels welcome. Believe it or not, small gestures like this can really make a person's day - there is something rewarding in knowing that your trainer is happy to see you in class.
Running a local studio is more complicated and labor-intense than most people realize. If there are only or a few people (some of them may be part-time) handling all the responsibilities, there are some things that may occasionally fall through the cracks. For example, the floor may not be swept every day, equipment may not be always put away or in the best condition, emails and phone calls may not be answered immediately. With an owner-operator studio, there may come a time that “burn out” is evident. Prices can range from reasonable to the high end - higher prices may turn some people off.
Effectiveness: Good to fantastic 7 to 10
Probability for injury: Unlikely 1
Price: Very affordable 5 to 7
Convenience: Very 8
A personal trainer is absolutely the best way to go! Here’s why:
1. You choose your workout days and times
2. Your exercise likes and dislikes are factored into the workout design
3. The intensity level can be adjusted for you
4. You are very unlikely to get hurt
5. Workouts are always creative and new
6. You may be able to occasionally bring a friend without extra cost
Personal training is absolutely the best way to: get results, fit your workouts into a busy schedule, ensure that you do not plateau in your progress, and be held accountable for your overall good health. Personal trainers also will give you workout plans for times when you are away from your one-on-one sessions.
Personal trainers see everything that you are doing, both right and wrong. Good trainers will talk to you and teach you about how to do things correctly and how to stop bad habits. Many trainers communicate often with their clients throughout the week, for example, to discuss how a workout felt, or to give adjustments to a plan so you can achieve a specific goal.
Your trainer will always have a modification for an exercise to accommodate your body type and fitness level (although there are some cases in which injuries preclude certain exercises). Good trainers want you to get the most of your workout without compromising your health. They will strive to push your limits toward fitness improvement - without injury. .
Personal trainers will be sure to include exercises that you really enjoy. In most cases, they will avoid exercises that you absolutely hate. With personal training, you have a huge say in what are included during your workouts. This is a benefit that most people are not fully prepared for in the beginning, but learn to appreciate as the training relationship develops. As time passes, many people find that their personal training sessions are an indispensable part of their week.
The major problem with personal training is the cost. In most average markets, prices can range from $70 to $150 per hour. For many people, this is over their budget.
Effectiveness: OUTSTANDING 10
Probability for injury: Not likely 1
Price: Very expensive 10
Convenience: SUPER! 10
Everyone has an opinion on the best types of exercise. Weight lifters love their big muscles. Crossfit people won't believe that anything in the world compares to their workouts. Runners will run. Swimmers talk about how relaxing the swims can be. I believe that body weight Boot Camp (HIIT) are the BEST for women.
The number 1 reason: Body weight exercises will give a woman an athletic and beautiful figure without getting big muscles.
Prepare yourself for disappointment. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO TARGET SPECIFIC AREAS FOR WEIGHT LOSS. There... the ugly truth is out there.
Weight comes off your body in the reverse order that it was added.
EXAMPLE: The Christmas weight will be the first to be lost in January. Then, Thanksgiving. Then Halloween. Do you see where I'm going with this?
You will see your neck and face slim early on but you don't get to choose where weight leaves your body first.
Many people have problem areas such as stomach, muffin top, hips and/or their back side (butt) that just don't seem to respond to the all the effert put in at the gym. This is not a problem that is specific to you. Many people have the same problem.
Losing weight and realizing the body that you want is best achieved through a good full body workouts and health eating. This doesn't mean that you can't do extra in an area that you really want to have looking good. Just remember that your extra squats, situps etc. won't be realized until your body is ready. (I know... that really sucks)
There is a saying; "Wash board abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen."
Does anyone really enjoy shoveling the snow off the driveway? Maybe the first time you enjoy watching the snow fall as you work but after that it’s treated as extra work. Use the time to do a little self improvement.
Focus on the movement of shoveling snow, what is the best way to swing the shovel and not strain your back. Make a workout out of the chore for myself. Keep my back straight, sit back and use my legs to get lower when scooping snow. Count reps, 20 on the right side and then switch to the left side. Doing this will keep you mind occupied while doing such a repetitive task.
See how fast you can get the drive shoveled. I go for a PR each time I go out the door with my shovel. It’s not that I find soooo much enjoyment from clearing the drive etc. I want to get it done and this is the fastest way I can get myself to complete this mundane task. If you must do the chore… get the most out of it.
In a “google it” society, It’s easy to believe what you read on the internet. But, like anything, discretion is needed when finding any information online – especially fitness related information. Make sure the sources are reliable and well researched before biting on the information they are trying to sell.
To help dis spell some of the inaccurate information out there, here are 5 things the internet may have told you that aren’t true:
1. Heavy weights will bulk you up
With all the articles and research pointing else where, it’s hard to believe that people still believe this myth. For more information about how heavier weights can actually make you appear leaner, check out this article.
2. You need to confuse your muscles to build strength
Rally.com reports, “Varying your weight training to build muscle is a load of cr@p. This nonsense is called muscle confusion theory. If you constantly switch around exercises, you can’t measure progress. Measuring progress means looking at what you lifted today and comparing it to what you lifted last week. To make the comparison meaningful, you’ll need to keep the variables constant: Do the exercises in the same order and in the same routine that you did last week, and do it with almost the exact same weight. Did you do one more rep with the same weight, or the same number of reps with five pounds more? That’s progress.” – Martin Berkhan, founder of LeanGains
3. There’s an ideal weight for your body type
Strong is the new sexy. Rather than look at the scale, pay attention to your energy level, your strength and the way your clothes fit. Those are much better signs of your current level of health and fitness.
4. There’s one best approach to fitness
Another great point made by Rally.com: “I’ve heard plenty of people say there’s one right answer or best way to approach fitness. But there’s no such thing as perfect squat or push-up. The best way for each person depends on movement history (and injury history!) and their environment (what they have access to).
It’s easy to fall into the thinking trap of “as long as I’m doing something physical, it counts as exercise”. But, not all exercise is created equal. If we aren’t careful, bad habits can develop, eventually leading to injury. To get the most out of your exercise routine, keep an eye out for these
3 Common Exercise Mistakes
1. Zoning out/Not focusing on the workout
Mistake: We all have too much on our plates. Stress caused by work, family, kids, friends and life in general can easily steal our attention from focusing on the task at hand. This is a surefire way to hurt yourself. Another pitfall of not focusing on your workout is the fact that you will get less out of your workout. With our limited time, “time is money”!
Fix: Take a deep breath and engage. Being engaged with the task at hand allows you to notice when you’ve made jumps in fitness, which can be motivating.
2. Doing the same workout(s) day after day
Mistake: While you may find comfort in consistency, doing the same routine or type of exercise will lead to faster plateaus and boredom. Boredom will increase your likely hood to quit.
Fix: Add variation to your routine. Try a new class, focus on different muscles, run a different route. Not only can greater variety in your exercise schedule generate better all-around fitness, but it also helps keep your mind engaged (see number 1)
3. Not varying the intensity
Mistake: Studies show that the fastest and biggest fitness gains result from workouts with varied intensities – especially those with high intensity interval training.
Fix: Myfitnesspal.com suggests “Mixing up your intensity level is simply about upping the ante in certain workouts to work different energy systems. If you’re a fan of training on the elliptical, for instance, you might do one day at an easy pace for 30 minutes and another day you could do an interval workout alternating between 1 minute at a harder pace and 2 minutes at an easy pace.”
Want an easy fix to all 3 common workout mistakes? Workout with any or all of Fire Eye Fitness classes. The whole workout is based upon varying intensities and the curriculum is never the same, both of which keeps your mind engaged!
We understand the desire to have a good-looking pair of shoes for your workout. However, most of us are wearing shoes that are inappropriate for the type of workout and even worse, the wrong size! According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 85% of people wear running shoes that don’t fit.
Here are some tips to make sure you are wearing shoes that will increase your efficiency in working out and not hinder it:
1. Proper Shoe Size: For the ideal fit, your big toe should be a thumbnail’s distance from the end of the shoe. That could mean that you go up one or two sizes from your casual shoes for your workout/running shoes.
2. Proper Shoe Type (Information from Webmd): “Running shoes have no lateral stability built into them because you don’t move your feet laterally when you run. You’re only going forward. A running shoe is built to give you support and stability as you move your foot through the running gait cycle,” says Joe Puleo, the author of Running Anatomy.
Puleo says basketball and tennis shoes both need to be stabilized laterally. That’s because you move your feet side to side a lot when playing these sports. “You can’t build a running shoe that has lateral stability,” he says, “and you can’t build a shoe for basketball or tennis that doesn’t have it.”
“A good cross-trainer will allow you to do the treadmill, some walking on asphalt or on a track, and light jogging,” says Kathleen Stone, past president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Not mileage, of course. But I like them for people who are doing a variety of athletic endeavors casually.”
To choose a good cross-trainer, Stone suggests you look for:
But the APMA recommends that if you’re going to participate in a particular sport two to three times a week or more, you should choose a sport-specific shoe.
3. Proper Shoe Life: It’s easy to fall in love with your shoes so much that you don’t pay attention to the wear. Shoes have a shelf-life and it is important to replace your shoes on a regular basis, many times before they appear worn out.
If you’re exercising on a casual basis, you can make your shoes last a year, but if you’re working out every day, 6 months is they typical limit.
You should also have your shoe size rechecked every year. Foot size doesn’t stay the same; our feet tend to grow bigger as we age.
Starting a new workout routine is exciting. During this time you are motivated and may fall in to the trap of thinking a transformation could happen overnight…if you only work hard enough.
But, we know that change takes time. To avoid unnecessary pain and possible injury, we are sharing 3 common rookie workout mistakes and how to avoid them.
Like most, we are excited for the warmer weather. For Fire Eye Fitness it means that workouts get to move outside leading to the addition of challenging obstacles and variety in class curriculum.
Warmer weather also means that our bodies will start to respond differently from what we are accustomed.
How does heat affect a workout?
Runners World did an in depth study on how heat affects runners.
A quick recap of the article: The author ran two identical workouts on consecutive days – one hour at 8:30 per mile pace. The first run was in 53 degree conditions, the second at 90 degrees. The results were staggering.
Body Measurements at 53°F
Heart rate 158
Rectal temperature 101.98
Sweat loss 27.05 ounces
Percent dehydrated 1.3
Body Measurements at 90°F
Heart rate 175
Rectal temperature 103.45
Sweat loss 54.10 ounces
Percent dehydrated 2.6
Notice the dramatic increase in heart rate and the fact that the sweat loss and percentage dehydrated DOUBLED.
Also, his temperature of 103.46 is dangerously close to heat stroke (which occurs at 104).
What does this mean?
But, wait! There are benefits of the added stress that heat puts on our bodies.
Men’s Fitness reported that “Researchers discovered that the cyclists who worked through the heat improved their performance by 7 percent (a very noticeable and significant amount), while the control group did not show any improvement. What surprised researchers most was that the experimental group not only showed that they had achieved a level of heat acclimation, but the training also helped them to function better in cooler environments.”
Bottom Line regarding working out in the heat.
“People just need to be wise enough to listen to their bodies,” says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., a fitness expert for the American Council on Exercise. “It isn’t a ‘no pain, no gain’ situation.”
Dr. Bryant recommends consuming 16 to 24 ounces of water a couple hours before exercising in hot temperatures. Past that, he says to take in another six to eight ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.
The Fire Eye Blog gives you extra insight into your fitness, meals planning, fitness equipment and motivation.