Fitness season is upon us! When the Christmas lights go up, so does our awareness for the end of the year, which means we are making resolutions and carving out a new outlook for the New Year! People will be flocking back to their gym memberships for the post-New Year’s rush with hopes of being more committed than ever.
Some of us will be implementing a new diet we have never tried before, while others are hoping to stop drinking soda or even quit smoking. Either way, we are striving to begin our new year with a solid foundation to implement healthy change! If you are committing to becoming active, getting into a routine can be tough mentally and create some uncomfortable but expected soreness; however, it is always important to remember these four rules during your fitness adventures to ensure safety and success.
1. Do No Harm
There should never be a situation, especially where professionals are present, where someone would be exposed to getting injured. When someone yells, “No Pain, No Gain!” to their workout partner who is buns-to-grass deep in a poorly executed squat with 500lbs on their back . . . run. Just run. The truth is that you have to start where your body is ready to start. Following the OPT model outlined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, you should first master balance, stability, and core strength before moving onto exercises that incorporate strength and power into the mix. If you don’t feel safe in any particular movement, do no harm. There are options and variations to almost every exercise to meet you at your level.
2. Work Smarter, Not Harder
There is no need to spend hours at the gym, and realistically, if you are spending over an hour at the gym you are probably either overworking or taking too much rest. So how can you work smarter instead of harder? Schedule no more than 1 hour (plus travel) time for your workouts. When you are working out, follow a program customized for your body and your goals. If you do a dynamic warming up, work out with a strategic plan, and cool down effectively, you can finish within an hour. Effective fat-burning interval cardio can be completed in under 20 minutes.
Many are deciding to use the highly effective in-home fitness programs that are 30-40 minutes in duration. These programs have been created with scientific efficiency. If you are completing an in-home program, be sure you always follow the guidelines for your fitness level, and put your full capacity into the workout during the 30-40 minute duration.
3. Prepare, Refuel, and Rehydrate
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they workout is they forget how important the timing surrounding a workout is. It is beneficial to prepare for your workout by being properly hydrated and nourished. One to two hours before you plan on working out, drink a large glass of water with your pre-workout meal. It can even be as simple as a piece of Ezekiel toast with almond butter. Even more crucial is how you refuel and rehydrate post-workout. Be sure to have some healthy plant-based protein available and consume it within an hour of heavy exercise.
4. Rest and Repair for Self Care
Even God rested—and for good reason! After physical, mental, and emotional exertion, rest is imperative to allow your body the time to rebuild after being broken down. Self-myofascial release and massage are excellent ways to show your muscles some love. Mineral baths (Epsom salt), saunas, alternating heat and cold, and proper nutrition are other options for continual self-care. The most difficult can be getting at least eight hours of restful sleep each night. Every hour spent asleep before midnight is known to be worth two hours spent asleep after midnight! Try to get those Z’s in!
Take your newfound energy and run with it. If you want this year to be different, the only thing standing in your way is you. Take that step forward, and if it happens to land you in the gym or new fitness program, then follow these four rules to keep you safe and on the road to success!
References: “Hydration Tips” Texas Heart Institute. July 2009. <http://www.texasheart.org/hic/topics/hsmart/hydrate.cfm> Accessed 10 May 2010. Coleman, Ellen. “Reconsider Athletes’ Carbohydrate Needs” Today’s Dietitian 12.3 (March 2010): 46. Kieth, Robert E. “Sports Nutrition for Young Adults #1: Protein” Alabama Cooperative Extension System: May 1997. <http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/H/HE-0748/> Accessed 10 May 201. American Dietetic Association website: http://www.eatright.org
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