The first step in getting healthy is that you have to want to. Not just kind of, maybe, if I feel like it I wouldn’t mind losing a few kilos – you have to want it bad!
This means setting a goal. When you do that, it should be measurable (like a time for a set run, or your maximum barbell squat in kg), achievable (if you’re 47 and currently unfit, the chances are that your NBA dream is over) and finite (set a deadline for it).
Even after doing all that, there are still some common errors that you might be making that are holding you back from the new healthier you that you want to become. Have a look at these and see if they might be the reason that you’re not getting the results you’re looking for.
1) Drink more water
“Be like water, my friend” –Bruce Lee
This is something that a lot of us forget, but it’s one of the most important things we should be doing. Think of drinking water like breathing. If you’re exercising hard, you breathe more, just like you should be drinking more water.
Water is involved in every process in your body, without it, you’ll die pretty quickly. If that doesn’t show you how important water is, then I can’t imagine what will.
Think of it this way, if you had a battery powered heart, and the battery only lasted a day or two, you’d make damn sure that thing was at 100% charge, just in case. You wouldn’t want to be running out of power and risk dying, especially if you were active. This is exactly what water is like.
When you don’t have enough water in your body, everything is affected. you have less energy, nutrients don’t flow around your body very well, you can;’t concentrate, heal, build muscle or do pretty much anything well.
2.5 litres for women and 3 litres for men is the bare minimum. When you’re exercising you should increase this by around another 500mL.
Don’t cheat by taking water replacements either. Energy drinks, coffee, alcohol and even protein shakes can actually increase your need for water.
If you’re not getting the results you think you should be, not drinking enough water could be the reason why.
2) Weekends still count
Unfortunately, Kilojoules don’t keep banker’s hours. We’re used to structure and routine during the week, with work, school and exercise, but our weekends are often left open so we can give ourselves a break from the routine.
That’s fine, but if you’re spending your weekends drinking until 4am and finishing up with a kebab covered in gravy and dodgy garlic sauce, you’re probably undoing a lot of the good work you’ve done in the rest of the week.
A bit of a drink and a laugh is fine – you’re a human after all, not a damn robot – but if your first thought on a Sunday morning is “Where am I?” followed by “Where are my pants, and why am I handcuffed to a bus stop smelling like an Alpaca?” you might want to tone it down a notch on Saturday night. Fitness goals aside, you’re an animal. Take it easy, or you’ll do yourself some damage.
3) You’re not eating enough carbs and fat
Think of your eating habits as a three legged stool. One leg is carbs, one is fats and another is protein.
While protein is super important, if all your kilojoules is coming from protein, you’re not getting the other nutrients that your body needs for good health. Just because you already have a regular intake of gainers such as the Pro Complex Gainer by Optimum nutrition, it does not mean that you can already dismiss other foods.
Eating complex carbs and good fats is very necessary for good health, especially if you’re active. Carbs are your body’s best fuel, and there are many vitamins and minerals that are fat soluble, which means that without fat you can’t absorb them.
So make sure you’re eating healthy, not just eating less.
4) You’re dieting when you should be eating
Your goal should always be to improve your basic eating habits. Going on a strict diet will get results, but you’ll lose them once you go back to your normal eating habits.
You’re better off adjusting your regular eating habits than you are going on a short-term diet. Yo-yo dieting often does more harm than good anyway, just make healthy adjustments a little at a time.
You can still have a celebration “cheat meal” if you’ve finished a training cycle, but make sure it doesn’t turn into a “cheat week”
5) You’re ignoring your body
When you start training after a long time of not training, your body will whine and moan a lot. Everything hurts and you really want to take a day off. Pushing through this is necessary, but you have to make sure you’re not pushing so hard that you’re risking injury, or overtraining.
Understanding when your body is “good sore” or “bad sore” is something that you just have to learn over time. If you’re feeling like you have no energy, not sleeping well, struggling to finish your regular exercises or just straight up wanting to sleep for a month, you should listen to your body and rest. Not just take the week off training, get good quality rest. Sleep for 9 hours a night (it sounds like an indulgence, but you really need to do it at this point). Eat well and avoid stress.
As you train adjust to your fitness routine, you’ll get a feel for when your body is just adjusting to your new schedule, and when you really need to take a break.
Constant small improvements are always better than having big improvements, followed by months off due to injury.
6) You forget to sleep
We’re all busy. We’ve got 40 hours of work to do in a 24 hour period. You get up at 5am to exercise in the morning, come home, shower, go to work, come home, get dinner and before you know it, it’s 11pm. “I’ll catch up on sleep on the weekend” you think. This is slowing down your progress.
I get it, you’re busy, determined and you want to get shit done! That’s awesome, but getting poor quality sleep is one of the things that will really set you back. When you’re sleeping, your body is repairing muscle, building it up, releasing growth hormones and a thousand other processes. Sleep is like a fountain of youth, you wake up feeling ten years younger than when you went to sleep.
Some people are good on 7 hours a night, they get decent REM sleep and their body functions perfectly. Other people need 9 hours every night, especially when they’re super active and young.
7) You’re doing too much cardio
Unless you’re trying to put on loads of explosive muscle, you need to be doing cardio, but when your training is full of lots of long cardio runs, you’re not building the muscle you need to be healthy, and process fat effectively.
Cardio is great for maintaining health. It gets your body to learn to handle energy efficiently, but if you’re trying to lose fat, you want to be burning it like a gas guzzling V8 muscle car, not a solar powered hybrid!
Likewise, if you’re trying to build muscle, cardio won’t stress the muscles in the right way to build it. It DOES make your body more efficient, which is fantastic for keeping yourself in good shape
Imagine there’s a wall between you and your health goals, what will break it down quicker, a thousand taps with your finger, or one big swing with a sledgehammer? That’s what too much cardio is like. You still should be doing it, it is absolutely essential to get your heart and lungs healthy, but you should also put in some sprint work, and exercise involving explosive effort.
8) You don’t use your mind
When we’re exercising, it’s really common for us to let our mind wander. We listen to music, we replay our day, or we might think about the hottie on the treadmill, and wonder if we’ll have the guts to say “Hi”.
This is pretty normal, but it’s not the best way to get the most out of your exercise.
Bringing your mind into the game can really supercharge your workout. Think about the muscle you’re working as it contracts. Visualise the movements with perfect form, and imagine the muscles growing. When you focus your mind on it, your form will improve, which will help you get results quicker and avoid injury. Also, your brain is responsible for secreting hormones, which are deeply involved in the muscle building process. Keeping it focused on exercise can increase your chances of releasing more testosterone and other muscle building hormones!
9) You’re not working enough of your body
By this, I mean that you’re focusing on one small part of your body, when you should be trying to improve the whole thing.
If your goal is just to get bigger biceps, you might do a lot of exercises that isolate them, and they might even grow, but nothing else will. Have you ever seen someone with huge biceps, but flabby chest and legs? It looks pretty ridiculous.
Focus on compound exercises. These are exercises that work lots of muscles at once. They can range from running with hand weights to performing weighted dips, deadlifts and squats.
You want to really work them hard too. Add enough weight that you’re struggling to finish 10 reps. This doesn’t have to be every single session, but getting all of your body working hard means your whole body builds up at the same time, rather than pumping up one single section at the expense of other areas.
10. You’re getting stagnant
A good routine is great to have. It gives you a place where you’re comfortable, and creates good habits, but it can also become boring and stale, which is when you get lazy and just go through the motions.
When you get to this stage, you don’t exercise properly, efficiently or effectively. You just clock on and off like a robot.
Keeping yourself interested is the best way to make sure that you’re always focused on what you’re doing. It also keeps your muscles working in different ways, which will help them become less prone to injury.
Mix up your routine occasionally. Besides keeping your mind fresh, your body will like the challenge.
So there’s a few pointers on things that you might be doing wrong. The best part is that fixing them is easy, and you can get back to achieving your health goals at full speed! It’s hard enough to be the person you want to be, so give yourself every advantage possible.