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Just the other day I was at my cell phone retailer and the salesperson asked me to explain some nutritional guidelines. (And then she ordered a Caramel Macchiato with four packs of Splenda for a coffee run, but that’s another post for another day.) Every industry faces this: We’re all uniquely qualified to answer certain questions, and as a personal trainer, I get MANY connected to health and fitness. Here are five, including some of the most common, and a couple only the bold will come out and ask. If there’s something else you’re burning to know, ask away in the comments below.
Of course I do! Fitness is a lifestyle! It is done over our entire lives, and I definitely want to keep this up for the rest of my life. That means using discipline when it is necessary, and having fun when it is necessary. Personally, when it comes to my indulgences, I like to plan meals and keep my weekdays clean, and then have a few cheat meals or indulgences over the weekend. Like game-day beer!
I must stress this: cheat meals do not equal cheat weeks or months. It all comes down to balance and control. The balance should be there so that you don’t go insane with absolute restrictions. The control should be there so that if you do fall off the wagon, you don’t spiral off a cliff. You just get back on.
The way I see it, it all comes down to goals and personality. Are you the type of person who works best when they are fully dedicated to the task at hand, with a lot of structure? Or are you the type of person who does better when they don’t have high, specific expectations of themselves? If you are fully dedicated with a specific goal like weight loss, calorie tracking might be a really good thing for you. If you are the type of person who is focusing on general health and doesn’t do well when there is too much expected of them, you should probably just stick to guidelines instead of trying to make every day count. No one benefits from setting unattainable goals. More importantly, a failure could deter us from ever trying again.
Before starting tracking, consider your goals and your personality. And if getting really lean is still your goal, consider the social cost of doing it. Check this infographic for more info.
Shortcuts. Because they DON’T EXIST!
We’ve all seen the ads. If you haven’t, just click the articles on the right of your Facebook news feed that say things like “Six-Pack Abs in Six Days.” There is no substitution for hard work, and there are no shortcuts.
This especially applies to ab machines and crash diets. Abs are a tricky subject, so do the research before developing expectations for yourselves. You can start here, and click the references for more information.
And when it comes to crash diets, never trust a diet that says you should lose more than 2 pounds per week.
This is probably the most popular question I get. My advice? Simplify things. Focus on calories in and calories out, and hit the weights.
Cardio is efficient and helpful, but you can burn the same amount of calories with a good full-body workout. Create a balance with your cardio and weight training, and get some good protein in your diet, and you should see some positive changes. There is plenty more to say on this topic, but this is a start.
Alright, here’s the thing: Yes, trainers are pushing the free weights. And yes, there are plenty of machines in most gyms. But just because the gyms are filled with machines, it doesn’t mean that they are your best option. It just means that they are easiest to use.
The truth is, doing free weights are your best option. But doing free weights often takes more guidance than machines. You know as well as I know that one of the hardest parts about joining a gym is walking in. All of these machines and options can be overwhelming and we might not know what to do. I might walk into a mechanic’s garage and I could get some things done with a socket wrench, but my work would be much less efficient because the wrench is the only tool I know. This doesn’t mean that the wrench is bad, it just means that with the right education, I can make the most of my time with the best tools around.
It is the same way with free weights and machines. The machines are simple, provide clear guidance, and they require little experience, but this doesn’t mean that they are your best options. Want my advice? Ask your trainer or the club manager at your local Anytime Fitness for a free “get started” plan. They will have you take a survey and will give you a great workout plan to start with. If your gym doesn’t provide this, ask a trainer about some great non-machine workouts. Plus you can always check out some of the great workouts on FitnessBuilder!
This post was previously published on the Anytime Fitness blog. PumpOne and Anytime Fitness are both owned by Self Esteem Brands.
PumpOne’s complete workout guidance, tracking and scheduling tools include more than 1,000 workouts, or you can create your own sessions from 7,000 exercise images and videos. Download it from the App Store or Google Play, or sign up at PumpOne.com.