A Drop Of Sunshine

Well hello!

It seems as if I’ve forgotten I have a blog. I haven’t forgotten, actually, I’ve just been in a bit of a brain freeze lately. I don’t know if I’d call it writer’s block, or merely an effect of the February blues, but I just have not been motivated to put pen to paper (err — fingers to keyboard?) lately.

That is, until yesterday. I’ve truly been feeling a bit blah, but I don’t want to come on here and just complain about the snow. Because who wants to read that over and over again? I’ve been searching my brain for something positive and/or productive to write about for the past week, and although I can’t say I’ve been totally down in the dumps, I certainly haven’t been feeling very Rah-Rah either.

Yesterday though, I had a glorious day off of work with nothing to do. I had been meaning to try a class at Turnstyle Cycle, because my lovely friend Caroline teaches there and I’ve heard awesome things about the studio. Well, yesterday was finally my day! I made my way to the studio, nice and early (a little bit too early due to my own scheduling mistake, but that’s ok). This gave me time to catch up a little bit with Caroline before class, and also a little bit of time to get comfortable on a bike before we started. If you haven’t taken a Turnstyle class before, their bikes actually move on an axis, so you actually lean into your “turns”, and the bike moves naturally while you ride. It’s a crazy feeling, and definitely one that takes a little bit getting used to, so I’m glad that I could have a little bit of time on a demo bike before class started so that I could avoid looking like a total idiot.

turnstyle_cambridge_neg_2

Class itself was awesome. It was high energy, let me escape from the real world for a bit, and left me feeling 100% refreshed and rejuvenated (and like my legs were going to fall off).  When I stepped outside after class, the sun was shining, and it honestly felt like the first time I’ve felt the sun in months. Caroline and her awesome spin class brought me back to life, and the incredible warm (can high 30s be considered warm?) sunny day was exactly what I need to get out of this funk.

Turnstyle Cycle

With Caroline before class — Pre-sweat, starting to feel blissed out already! 

So bring it on, Monday, I’m back and I’m ready to go this week. Train issues? I’ll deal with it. More snow? Please God no, but if that does happen, I’m going to try my hardest to not fall back into this funk that pulled me down for the past couple weeks. February is almost over, which means that my most difficult month of work is almost over. I have learned that the sun does in fact still exist, and that we’re not all dying a slow death under a mountain of ice and snow.

Readers: Are any of you experiencing the February blues? What do you do to pull yourself out of it? Have you tried Turnstyle Cycle classes? 

It’s About That Time…

Well here we are. Boston just got buried under a boat load of snow AGAIN, and I think it’s making me a little bit crazy. I know I’m not alone either. I don’t want to complain too much, but with a historic year for snow in the books –70 inches so far– (and considering it’s all come within the past 2 weeks), I hope you can all understand being a little bit frustrated with Mother Nature right now.

It’d be one thing if I had a ton of free time and close proximity to head out snowboarding with all of this fresh powder, but alas, that is but a cruel dream to torture myself with. Instead I have some dirty snow to shovel and angry neighbors covering each others cars in snow piles when their spots get taken (true story).

Anyway, since I’m feeling a bit stir crazy, today’s post might seem a little strange. It doesn’t really have a point. But neither does all this snow so I guess we’re all on the same page here.

It’s about that time…

…That I need spring. Listen. I grew up in New England. I’ve chosen to stay in Boston since college, and I truly do love it here. It’s not winter that I’m complaining about — that I’m used to. It’s this insane onslaught of snow and a feeling of restlessness that goes along with it.

It’s around this time of year every year (February in particular) that I start getting a little bit nutty at work, and this year’s endless snow is not helping. I am yearning a return to the stadium for some killer workouts, heck, even the ability to do hill sprints on walk up my street. There have been so many days lately where the city is all but shut down, and I think there are millions of people getting a bit stir crazy right now. With more snow coming on Thursday and then more yet again on Sunday, my crazy may  not end any time soon. Watch out!

Boston Blizzard

This is me walking to work the other day– just before I had to wait 90 minutes for a train that never came. #MBTAproblems 

…That everything hurts. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong lately, or if I’m actually just at the point in my life where at any given time, something will be hurting. It seems like my entire left side, from my hip down to my ankle is in pain lately, and I don’t love it. My training doesn’t love it. Because of this, I’ve started really paying extra attention to my mobility though, spending a good 30 minutes most nights foam rolling and stretching. I feel like it’s already made a bit of a difference, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part. Someone please tell me that at 32 years old, I’m not just destined for pain every day? I’m counting on my foam roller to be my savior right now, so I hope it doesn’t let me down!

…That we remember what being neighbors means. There’s a lot of ugliness in Boston right now, with people fighting over parking spaces, getting overly frustrated with the lack of consistent public transportation (count me in that camp), etc. But it’s around this time that we need to forget the ugly and look out for our neighbors.

I feel like being a neighbor doesn’t necessarily mean what it used to — honestly, I only know a couple of my neighbors names. But I think it’s important to forget all of the winter frustration for a time and focus on helping those around you. Help your neighbors shovel out their cars and driveways, or if you’re not able to do that, maybe offer them some fresh hot chocolate when you see them outside?

Helping others around you will help you to feel better about this miserable winter — trust me. I shoveled out several of my neighbors cars and driveways the other day, and it was honestly the best thing I’ve done since this snow debacle started. Neighbors helping neighbors — doesn’t it have a better ring to it than “Neighbors dumping snow all over each other’s cars”?

…That I get my pull up game back. I have kind of neglected pull ups and chin ups for the past few months for no reason at all. Well, it’s time for that nonsense to stop. I’ve been adding parallel grip pull ups in between sets of my lower body lift days, and I’m feeling much stronger after just a couple weeks of doing this. I suppose there is a silver lining to the snow — after all of this shoveling lately, I may just add a couple more reps into my arsenal! Hoping to get back to my best of 8 consecutive reps soon — and hoping to get to 10 reps not too long after.

IMG_3254

Why hello old friend! 

Hey Bostonians — how crazy are you feeling at this point? Have you seen any ridiculous acts because of the snow? Non-Bostonians — sorry for the snow rant! 

Good Reads – Weight Loss Edition

Good morning everyone!  I’m sitting here looking out the window into another Winter Wonderland. With my 3rd snow day in the past week, I’d say Boston has been hit pretty hard! I’m not complaining though, since snow days are usually pretty rare when working at a college. Anyway, let’s hop to it.

After an amazing Super Bowl win by the Pats last night (did you guys watch?), I’m feeling pretty excited no matter what today throws at me! Of course the outcome was exactly what I was hoping for, but the game itself was an amazing game — I would venture to say it’s one of the best Super Bowls that I’ve seen, literally coming down to the last seconds (and that pass? What was that??). If you’re not a football fan, perhaps you watch just for the food and commercials? I have to admit, the commercials let me down a bit this year. Over all I didn’t think they were great, although there were a few shining stars in there.

In case you missed it, or haven’t seen this video circling the internet already, go ahead and watch my favorite of the night — from the #likeagirl campaign from Always.

This is actually a longer version of the commercial that was aired during the game, but I think the message is so strong I actually like this one better.

Today we’re going to kind of stick with this theme of perceptions and self esteem, and look at some good reads I’ve found lately that deal with different sides of the weight loss topic. Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments!

I Was On The Biggest Loser And It Was The Biggest Mistake I’ve Ever Made – Kai Hibbard on XO Jane.  I’ve posted a few articles about The Biggest Loser on my Facebook page recently, and I’ve written briefly about the show here. I have a lot of feelings about this show, most of them negative, and this article only serves to support them. This is a little bit of a different take than the articles I’ve already posted. Instead of detailing the horrible physical abuse that contestants on this show go through, Kai digs a little bit deeper into the psychological aspect of this “reality” show.

3 Things Women Must Do For Simple Fat Loss – Erica Hurst at Hurst Strength. Erica has a no-nonsense approach to training and this comes across very well in her writing. Fat loss doesn’t have to be complicated, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. In this post, Erica outlines three basic principles that must be followed in order for a fat loss plan to be effective. I whole heartedly agree with this entire post, especially #3.

The Unexpected Side Effects of Significant Weight Loss – Guest Post by Kerry Colpitts on Weighty Matters (Yoni Freedhoff). Again, a little bit of a different take on weight loss and the effects it has on the people who succeed. Does losing weight make you a better person? Does it mean that you deserve more in this life?

Dropping Weight Without Losing Strength – Tara Spencer at Sweat Like A Pig. If you’re looking to drop body fat without losing too much strength, Tara does a wonderful job of detailing how she’s going about it for an upcoming competition. Again, fat loss doesn’t have to be complicated, but especially when you’re trying to maintain strength, simple does not mean easy. Check out Tara’s tips,

Bonus:

Why A Fake Article Called Cuckoo For Cocoa Puffs Was Accepted By 17 Medical Journals  – Elizabeth Segran. I had to put this article in here even though it doesn’t really fit in with the whole weight loss theme. I just feel like it’s an important read for people who regularly read fitness, health, and weight loss articles, as these often cite research to prove their point. Why is this article so important to read? Because the author points out just how easy it is to create fake “research”, which can then be cited in the very articles you’re trusting for your own health information. The bottom line is that not all research is equal, in fact not all “research” is even real.

And that’s it. Enjoy your snow day if you’re lucky enough to have one, and for the rest of you, Happy Monday!

Life Lately: Blizzard Edition

Well hello everyone! If you’re a reader from New England, you’re probably just digging yourself out from underneath Winter Storm Juno, the blizzard that put a halt to just about everything yesterday. Boston was all but shut down which was pretty crazy. With a travel ban in effect and the subway system shut down, it was like a ghost town!

A lot of schools and businesses are still closed today because the city (and state) is really still digging out.  In fact I’m on my second snow day in a row, and I think this is the first time this has ever happened to me in my career!  Will and I spent yesterday just putzing around the house — I had my nose in the first Game of Thrones book almost all day, and he had some other projects he was working on. We also made sure to get outside and enjoy the storm as well, I find something so exciting about the anticipation of a big storm like this. We went out to shovel and took a walk around the neighborhood — although I’m not sure trudging through 2 feet of unshoveled/unplowed snow can be called a walk!

Steph Snow

Here I am with our buried Prius! 

Anyway, lets get to it.

Workouts Lately

My training sessions lately have been really awesome overall. I am finally getting my deadlift groove back! Since I wasn’t lifting for most of the fall due to injury, I took these first few weeks of January to really groove some of my big lifts, just working on movement patterns and keeping the loads relatively low. This past Monday though, I maxed out my deadlift so that I could have specific numbers to train with. If you missed it on Instagram, there was good news and bad news that came with this lift.

Steph Deadlift

The bad news? I am currently 20 lb away from my previous max of 235. The good news? I’m ONLY 20 lb away from my previous max, despite months of race training and being injured. 215 isn’t my best, but I’ll take it. I know I’ll get back to 235 in no time, and I’m really pushing for 250 lb this year. Can I do it? Only time (and the barbell) will tell!

Besides deadlifts, I haven’t really pushed my other lifts too far yet. I’ve been working a lot with push ups and pull ups for upper body, doing a lot of kettle bell work, and really just working on squat mechanics. I’ve been doing a lot of front squats, single leg work, and more dynamic metabolic work as well, and I’ve been feeling really great! I’ve also been spending a ton of time lately really just working on hip mobility, trying to totally get rid of any butt-wink before I get back to squatting near my max range.

That means I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym lately like this, which has gotten some funny looks…

hip mobility

Food Lately

Again, some of these have already been posted on Instagram, so some of you may have seen a few of these before.

Most weekends, Saturday is our date night and we try to go out to different restaurants each week. We do have a few that we’ve repeated, but with so many awesome restaurants around Boston, it’s easy to go to new places frequently. A couple weekends ago, we tried out a new asian-fusion place in Chinatown called Shojo, a hip little joint with killer cocktails and “small” shared plates. (They say small, we ordered 5 for two people and had way too much food!).

This was one of my favorites of the night — the Kimchi Fried Rice. I’d go back just to have this again!

Shojo Kimchi Rice

Last weekend, during the first snowstorm of the week, we were both craving burgers. We ended up going to one of our favorite burger places in town, Lineage in Coolidge Corner. Their burgers are simple but so, so good. And it’s one place where the bun truly adds a lot to the burger, their bread is some of the best I’ve ever had, hands down.

Lineage Burger

Last weekend also brought a trip down to the South End, where we tried out the brand new Blackbird Doughnuts and stopped into the new (gigantic) Whole Foods for lunch.

Blackbird Doughnuts

Lemon Coconut.. Yummmmm 

Whole Foods Salmon

Made to order Salmon Veggie Rice bowl from Whole Foods 

I’ve also had a few random food finds lately. I have been on a hunt for unsweetened granola, because I love having a little crunch on my yogurt in the mornings. It was proving to be impossible, at least at the stores close to us, and I can’t even find my favorite Renola at most places. I recently found this though, and it’s exactly what I was looking for. Finally, a granola that’s not a total sugar bomb!

New England Naturals Granola

New England Naturals Berry Coconut Granola 

I’ve also been looking for a tasty sauce lately that isn’t soy based. When I prep lunches for the week, a lot of times I’ll make plain pulled chicken with rice, and try to find new sauces and flavorings to switch it up so that I’m not eating the exact same thing over and over again. The trouble is, most pre-made sauces are full of sugar and many are soy based (either with soy sauce, tamari, or soybean oil). I found this gem at Whole Foods last weekend and am hooked — I even had everyone at work drooling with how good it smells!

Cindys Kitchen

Cindy’s Kitchen Roasted Yellow Bell and Serrano Pepper Sauce

Life In General Lately

Life in general is… pretty great! Will and I are planning a west coast trip for the spring, I have another trip planned with coworkers for a conference (we’re road-tripping to St. Louis!), and we have a couple weddings coming up as well. I know that the spring is going to fly by, and honestly, that’s ok with me. As much as I loved the snow this weekend, I’m looking forward to warm weather again for sure.

One major thing I’m thinking about right now is going ahead with becoming a certified Wellness Coach. It’s going to be a little bit of an investment, both with time and money, but I think it will be helpful to me both in my existing career and in my long-term future. Have any of my readers gone through the Wellcoach certification program? What did you guys think about it? I have to make the decision quickly to enter into the class that I want, so stay tuned on this front.

The Worst Nutrition and Fitness Advice, And What To Try Instead

The internet and world of print are full of health and fitness “experts” who are trying to either sell your their latest product, or sell you on the latest trend that will change your life. There is a lot of really great information out there, but unfortunately, it can be hard to weed through all of the crap to find what you really need. Today let’s look at some of the worst (but widespread) pieces of health and fitness advice, and what you might want to try instead.

No Pain, No Gain- This is by far the worst piece of fitness advice that you can (try to) adhere to. True, when you first start working out, you will likely get sore. But if that soreness persists week in and week out, or causes you to limit activities in your daily life, here’s a news flash: You’re doing it wrong. At the very least, pain from working out is classified as DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. At it’s worst though, pain from working out can signal injury, something that can halt your progress all together. Progress with workouts is not measured by how sore you get or how much your trainer makes you cry. It’s about setting goals and systematically following a program to achieve them. I’m not sore at all after most of my workouts, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing the work. In fact, pain often leads to “no gain” due to inability to train. Doesn’t sound like good advice to me!

Try this instead: Train smarter and listen to your body. Learn to differentiate between muscle soreness and pain, and never try to “train through” an injury without giving it the proper care.  

You must work your muscles to failure. This kind of goes along with the above advice. Working muscles to failure can be a valuable part of training when it’s used in a very limited fashion. You should not be training to failure during every session, your muscles don’t need to “fail” in order to become stronger. In fact, if you do train to failure often, you are opening yourself up to a huge possibility of injury. Again, your workout shouldn’t take you backward, it should help to propel you forward.

Try this instead: Train with optimal loads and progressions, and take advantage of recovery time. 

Do “X” exercise to tone “Y” area! This is pretty much the mantra of every women’s fitness magazine out there. If you see “6 exercises for toned triceps!” or anything like it, do yourself a favor and skip over that article. You can not spot “tone” any specific area, in fact you can not actively “tone” your body at all. Do you want more visible definition? That comes from building muscle and decreasing body fat to reveal that muscle. There is no magic exercise that will “tone” any part of your body — humans are much  more complicated creatures than that.

Try this instead: Delete the word “toning” from your fitness vocabulary. Go for a whole body approach with both diet and exercise. 

Exercise in the morning before your brain figures out what it is doing. 

I know this is more hyperbole than actual advice, but still. It makes no sense, so why say it at all?

There are two reasons why this is horrible advice. First of all, you should work out whenever you want. Personally, I train much better and harder in the morning than the evening, so that’s when I choose to work out. But I know several people who are the opposite, and that’s ok too. Second, exercising before your “brain figures out what it is doing” is probably the worst idea when it comes to training. Your brain and your CNS have to be awake and warmed up in order for you to have an effective workout. Lifting without “waking up” your CNS first with a proper dynamic workout is asking for both a crappy workout and an injury. No bueno.

Try this instead: Always make time for a proper and thorough dynamic warmup before beginning any training session, and work out when it suits your body and lifestyle the best.  

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This one, like many other things related to nutrition and fitness, depends on the person. Some people don’t eat until noon and have beautiful results. Some people need to have breakfast or they end up binging all day. The point is, figure out what works for you and stick with it. Paleo folks telling you that you should be eating chicken and sweet potatoes for breakfast but you can’t quite stomach that idea? No big deal. Don’t get hungry for a meal until well after 11 or 12? That’s fine too if that’s what works for you. There is no magical time of day to eat, and there is no magical meal. Health is determined by the whole picture, not the existence (or not) of breakfast.

And don’t think you need to eat breakfast just to “rev” your metabolism for the day. Metabolism isn’t that finicky, and unless you under eat for a long period of time, you won’t change it. In fact, there are many people (including myself), who believe it can be good for people to go relatively short amounts of time without eating.

Try this instead: Eat mostly whole foods, eat when you’re hungry, experiment with nutrient timing to figure out what works best for you. 

Never eat carbs after 7 pm (or any other arbitrary evening time).  This is such an old piece of advice, but it seems like it will never die. Oprah Winfrey convinced America that carbs eaten after a certain time were exactly what was making us all so fat, and we ate it up (like a big bowl of carbs after dinner). In reality, there are many people that believe now that carbs consumed at night can enhance your fat loss (imagine that!). Plans like Carb Back Loading and Carb Nite Solution encourage carbs almost exclusively at night, and I have honestly seen some pretty impressive results with these. These kind of plans are not for everyone (I failed miserably), but there is something to be said about fueling your glycogen stores at night if you train in the morning. Carbs at night can help to fuel your next gym session, leading to better workouts and maybe more fat loss. So regardless of whether you follow CBL, let’s stop demonizing carbohydrates after sun down.

Another approach that can show great results is timing your carbs around workouts. This can be a little bit easier than CBL for the average person to stick to successfully, and for that I endorse it whole heartedly. If you happen to train at night, please don’t be afraid to try this because of Oprah Winfrey and her shenanigans. Nighttime carbs are just like any other carbs. They are not the enemy.

Try this instead:  Eat a moderate amount of carbohydrates, concentrating the majority of them around the times that you train*. 

*And when you do eat carbs outside of this timeframe, don’t allow that to become an added sources of stress in your life. Really, is it worth it?

Don’t Worry, You Won’t Look Like Me

Recently, someone commented on this picture of me:

GNO7

Showing off the guns AND the bum! 

Their comment was something along the lines of “This picture makes me NOT want to lift. So unflattering”

Now, let’s take a second to think about the picture itself.

I had posted it at the end of this blog post. The whole point of the post was talking about a killer spin class I had taken, and then had followed up the next morning by doing an insane stadium workout with a 15 lb kettle bell in my backpack. To say I felt like a total beast that day would be an understatement.

When I asked someone to take that picture of me following my stadium workout, I knew that I looked like hell. I knew that I looked like, well, like I had just run stadiums with a weighted backpack on. I knew I had a red face and sweaty hair, and to be honest, I really didn’t care.

But when I saw the picture that a very kind stranger took for me, I’ll be completely honest and say that the first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t flattering.

My arms looked big.

But after half a second of that stupid thought, a much more important thought came to my mind. Who CARES what I look like in that very sweaty moment. My arms look big? My arms look STRONG! I had just crushed an awesome workout, and I was proud of what my body had accomplished. To me, that is what that picture shows. Pride in myself and in my capabilities. Pride in my strength and my endurance. Pride in being me.

But let’s go back to the picture and the commenter.

What is that picture, exactly? It’s a very small moment in time. In fact, it’s a screen capture of one shutter click. One fraction of a second. If I had moved my arms one inch up or down, would it be more flattering? If I had held my arms in a different position, and let my booty pop just a little bit, would it be more flattering?

Maybe, but that wasn’t the point.

The point of that picture wasn’t for me to look sexy. It wasn’t to show all my Instagram followers how cut and lean I looked first thing in the morning (I don’t). It wasn’t to show that world that I think I’m perfect.

It was to have proof that I kicked ass that day. 

It was to show myself that I made it through one hell of a workout at a time when I wasn’t sure I’d be physically capable of finishing. 

It was to remember the feeling of exhilaration I had while finishing those stadium stairs knowing that I had put every last ounce of energy I had into that workout. 

It was to show myself that I can, I did, and I will do it again.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at that picture I can see in my face how happy I was at that very moment. I actually love that picture, even though it’s not the most flattering fitness photo I have of myself, and I love showing it off because of the emotion that I think is conveyed. If that makes you not want to lift, than that’s your prerogative, but I’m sorry I just don’t get it.

The thing is, trusty commenter (and I mean this with the most respect), you will not ever look like me, and that I can promise you. Lifting weights will not make you look like that picture. Heck, most days I don’t even look like that picture.

But that picture is about so much more than that singular moment in time. If I took one look at that picture and deleted it because it was “unflattering”, somewhere down the line I would forget about that day. I would forget what my legs felt like on those last few stairs, and I would forget my pride in that very moment. Flattering picture or not, I’d rather remember moments like this rather than just the ones where I looked my best.

Because truthfully, in the times that I look my best, I’m probably not training hard enough. 

Yes, sometimes there will be unflattering pictures of you, but if you can find the workout that makes you so gosh darn proud of yourself that you don’t care? That’s what it’s all about.

Fitness is power. And whether you want to “look like me” or not is no concern of mine, but what you should want is that hunger, that pride, that inner strength. That is worth more than any picture could ever be. 

Top 3 Things For Fitness Newbies To Remember

We all know that fitness newbies arrive in droves at the gym in January, eager to try out new fitness routines in order to finally get into shape. This is the year. This is always the year.

But then like clockwork, unfortunately many of these people don’t stick with their new plans beyond the first month or two.

Why does this happen? Why does everyone disappear from the gym in February when they were all so gung-ho on the healthy train just a few weeks ago?

There are many reasons why this might happen, but often it’s because of the simple fact that sticking with a new fitness routine is hard, and without the right support and expectations it can be a heck of a lot easier to just not do anything at all. However, if gym-newbies try to remember a few key things, staying consistent with their new healthy routine might be that much easier.

Heck, if everyone remembers these three important things, the gym might just be a happier and healthier place overall.

1. Everyone Started Somewhere. This is the most important thing to remember when first starting out at a gym. Everyone, even the fitness freak doing handstand pushups in the corner, and the gym-bro bench pressing 350 pounds. Yes, there was a time when he bench pressed for his very first time, and guess what, his numbers probably weren’t that impressive. The girl with the six pack abs, full make up and perfectly done hair? Well, she was also the new girl at one point, and she probably had her fair share of sweaty, red-faced days in which she didn’t look quite so perfect or effortless. (Let’s save the full makeup/hair debate for another post).

It can be really easy to get intimidated by people at the gym who look like they think they know everything about fitness (they don’t), or look like they’ve been working out every day for years. It can be really intimidating to see people who know the personal training staff all by name, and who seem to be the “cool kids” at the gym. But honestly, there are no cool kids. Everyone is there working toward their own goals, and if someone goes out of their way to make you feel like you’re not a cool kid, then you have full permission to not so subtly remind them that they, too, started out as the “newbie” at one time.

badsquat

This guy thinks he knows a lot about fitness. Trust me, he doesn’t. 

2. You don’t have to “kill yourself” every time. I would say the biggest reason most fitness programs fail is because people tend to go way too hard, way too soon. People who start fitness programs generally want to see results fast, and they think that the key to that is absolutely demolishing themselves during every session. We are a society of instant gratification —  we want what we want, and we wanted it five minutes ago. People want to see physical change from their fitness routine right away, even though that attitude is only going to lead to disappointment in the gym, where change takes time and a whole lot of patience.

“Go hard or go home” does not apply to every person during every workout. Do you want to push yourself so that your body adapts to new demands and becomes stronger and faster? Of course. Do you want to end up a non-functional pile of sweaty goo at the end of every workout? No, that is not necessary, and in fact is (or should be) discouraged. In fact, if you are working with a trainer who won’t let you leave the gym unless you’ve reached muscle failure during every single workout, your main concern should be finding yourself a new trainer.

Going too hard all the time can lead to injury, especially in those who are just starting out with a new program. And even for those who manage to avoid injury, this “go hard” mentality can very easily cause you to burn out and stop working out all together. So what can you do instead of going 100% hard, 100% of the time? Work with a trainer who understands your goals and who understand the necessary steps to get you there. Follow a program that helps you to see progress and reach goals, without unnecessary pain, sheer exhaustion, or overwhelming soreness. This is the type of program you can stick with, and this is the type of plan that your body will respond to in the long run.

What good is a workout plan that is just too much for your body to handle, causing you to give up after just a few short weeks?

3. You can’t out train a bad diet. I won’t go for the cliche “Abs are made in the kitchen” here, because I do believe that it takes a careful combination of both diet and exercise to reach body composition goals. That being said, it is not possible to out train a bad diet, and what you put into your body will absolutely be reflected in your results.

How many times have you heard of people who put in a great work out, and then go home and over eat because they “earned it”? Listen, I’m all about indulging sometimes, and I’m a huge supporter of “everything in moderation”. But if you are seriously trying to lose body fat or otherwise improve your body composition, your diet needs to play a primary role in achieving your goal.

Fat loss is much more complicated than just calories in, calories out, but the honest truth is that to lose fat, their must be an energy deficit. There must be, overall, less calories consumed than expended. And once you really get down to it, calories are a heck of a lot easier to consume than they are to burn. That cookie from the bakery that you “earned”? That’s 300-500 calories that will take you about 2 minutes to eat, and there goes the caloric deficit that you’ve been working so hard for. Like I mentioned before, moderation is the key here, but losing body fat does require that this type of indulgence is kept in check the majority of the time.

And while we’re on the subject, this unfortunately goes for alcohol as well. Alcohol all but halts your fat loss, so indulging in adult beverages several times per week, while fun at the time, can keep your progress at a standstill at the very least.

4. Bonus. I know the title of the post said 3, but I’m going to give you a little gem of a bonus here. Never, ever, use the good girl/bad girl (hip adductor and abductor machines). Just don’t.

adductor-eye-contact

Readers: What do you remember most about when you first started going to the gym? What would be your top piece of advice for gym newbies?