Well it's official.... I've been working out regularly for about 6 months. I go to the gym about 3-4 times a week and the routines have changed pretty often. For a while I was lifting weights every other day and running the days in between, plus throwing in some yoga or hiking, and riding horses. As of lately I've been doing weights and a lot of walking (thanks to my fitbit!) (Sorry something is wrong with my formatting thing today. It is determined to center everything....ugh.)
Anyway, when researching working out and fitness tips, I feel like there is always something to contradict what you just read. Some of these examples might be "Hit the gym hard every day to shred and lose the weight you want...." or "You only need to work out effectively 5 minutes a day to lose the weight you want!" "Bananas make you gain belly fat.." "Bananas speed up your metabolism!"
etc. etc. I have read a lot of fitness articles, magazines, you name it.
So... based on everything I have read, this is what I have decided are they key points to exercise and what I try to follow. My personal fitness goals haven't been to lose weight (which is good, because in fact I have gained weight from working out.) I don't necessarily want to turn into a body builder or anything, but I want to shape some muscle and just be healthy, strong, and fit.
1. Continue to change your routine so your body doesn't plateau. It's easy to do the same thing over and over and just start increasing weight or whatever, but you need to change it up. Try a different exercise, or experiment with different angles (some times just changing the angle of what you're lifting makes you realize how not strong you still are.
2. Balance cardio with weights. Only cardio will cause you to burn through carbs and fat, but you don't gain any muscle tone. Only doing weights will cause you to bulk up, but if you don't burn fat things will just look bigger and not more defined.
3. Speed up your metabolism. We have all heard that you should eat several small meals a day and its true. The goal to burning fat is to keep your metabolism active all day which you can do by 1. eating small meals every 2-4 hours. 2. work out later in the afternoon when your metabolism and blood sugar starts to drop 3. start the day off with cardio or going for a nice long walk before breakfast.
Walking in the mornings has become a new favorite thing of mine (and my dogs. They wake me up every morning so we can go at the same time.) We walk for about an hour or two and half miles. Even though I have met my running goal I still hate doing it, and this way I can feel refreshed by the time I sit down to eat breakfast, and I'm a responsible dog owner as well.
4. Nutrition is everything. Sure you should probably count calories because you will soon realize how much you are over eating. But the quality of food is most important... Eat a lot of protein and lean meats with slow burning carbs (brown rice etc.) healthy fats (such as nuts) and make small changes.
I don't drink soda or eat junk food and my body reacts very unhappily now if I do. (Don't get me wrong...I have no problem indulging once in a while with pretzel bites at a movie or with a thing of ice cream. You have to be healthy but you still have to live life!) Incorporate healthier foods, fruits and veggies, and try not eat things that don't come from nature. Simple.
But remember it is important to cheat every now and then...then you won't find yourself losing control and binge eating all of the bad things for you.
I read an article on beachbody.com that put everything into a super complicated equation with how much protein to eat etc. and you can look it up if you're really looking to gain mass. What I took from the article was this:
Every other day should be cardio- such as brisk walking or running. Try to make this day low with starches and carbs, and focus on mostly fruits and veggies. The days in between should be weights, followed by a little bit of cardio (such as walking up hill on the treadmill for 15-20 min briskly.) Start the day with low carbs, and post working out its time to over feed (yay!) Frequent meals full of protein to recover and build muscle.
5. Don't live by the scale. It will put you in a bad mood if you do... Yes have a scale and check your weight often to use as a guideline, but remember that a lot of things factor into what it is telling you. Water weight, inflammation, time of day, etc. because your body is constantly working and changing. Try to check your weight consistently to keep similar factors (such as first thing in the morning before breakfast and no clothes.)
I would also take monthly pictures...because when you see results you like you know that something is happening. This has been particularly important to me, because like I said, I've actually gained about 5 lbs since I started working out. Normally this would cause me to totally freak out...but when I look at my monthly pictures I see things are shaping into how I want them to and I'm not just putting on fatty weight. (I always gain it first in my butt and hips. That's the tell tale sign!)
The best tip I think I have read was this: "There is no such thing as toning. You either have muscle or you don't. You either have a bunch of fat over that muscle....or you don't. If you want to "tone" you need to strengthen and build that muscle while equally losing fat over the top of it."
Sounds pretty solid.
So below are some pictures I've taken.... (sorry there's really terrible lighting upstairs and makes the pictures very grainy) The first one on the left is from February when I started this process, the middle is some time in between, and the right is August. When I first took them I was a little disappointed because I feel like I've worked harder than what I can see....but really what I have done is change my lifestyle to have way healthier habits and to exercise often. I don't have the dedication to become a bikini model (those women have serious self control!) I love to eat food and don't have the discipline to follow formulas and eat only a few limited things. (Thus I'm not ripped and haven't shredded!) But I have gotten much stronger, and though I've actually gained about five pounds my hips have gotten more slim, my tummy flatter, and I have more muscle in my legs, back, and arms.
Which is all I've really been looking for so mission accomplished!
Good luck to everyone and their own personal journeys with their bodies. <3
And please ignore my awful shorts tan line. Lordy.