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PostHeaderIcon Why Am I Not Improving?

During my transition from being a personal trainer to becoming a group fitness instructor, I observed that there were a handful of students who weren’t getting better.  Some wanted to lose weight but couldn’t.  Others just weren’t getting stronger or more energetic.  They came to class looking exhausted and it was difficult for them to do movements they had been learning for weeks.

Although most of my students were seeing results, I always felt bad that I couldn’t spend one on one time with those who weren’t.  Throughout my years of teaching, I have spoken to many students of group fitness.  Unfortunately, many people who can’t afford personal training are held back by a lack of proper knowledge of how to eat and how to plan out their routines.

I started this website as a means to educate all of my group fitness students on lifestyle choices that will help them get results outside of the aerobic room.

In today’s post, I would like to address important lifestyle components that could make the difference between making our goals, and never getting there.  These components are: Diet, recovery and consistency.

On Diet:  I don’t see people overlook their diet so much as I see a lack proper nutritional education.  Most people have the mentality that they have to deprive or starve themselves in order to get results.  However, depriving the body can lead to health deprivation.  This mentality contradicts one of health gain results.  Calories are not bad.  Eating more calories than you burn is bad.  Food is crucial to a successful fitness regimen.  Only eating only an apple to fuel a boot camp class that requires well fueled muscles, and that burns up to a thousand calories an hour will only leave you depleted and weakened.

Remember that your muscles need slow burning carbs that come from whole grains and root vegetables such as sweet potatoes in order to fuel an intense workout.  Your body also needs protein from lean meats or nuts, seeds or beans eaten in the right proportions in order to keep your muscles strong.  The  food pyramid and food groups were created because each food group provides some vitamins, minerals or nutrients that other food groups do not.  Cutting out an entire group will lead to vitamin and energy deficiencies.

On Recovery: Muscles and bones get stronger by adding stress to them. However, if we do not take time to recover or rest them, they will not  heal and grow stronger.  The strengthening process works by combining a cycle of stress and rest.  While training, our muscles break down. During the recovery period, they heal and get stronger.  Many people skip the recovery period.  I chalk this up to another dangerous mentality; the belief that if we torture ourselves without resting, we will get results faster.  This approach can lead to injuries and a depletion of bone and muscle.  If you do not give your muscles a chance to rest, they will break down and you will burn out.  This will lead to health problems or injuries that can put an end to your workout routine.

Remember to always take a day of rest.  When you train a muscle to failure, do not train the sore and broken down muscle the next day.  Give your muscles their recovery time.  Remember that your heart is also a muscle and that too much cardiovascular training with no rest can lead to heart damage or a lack of cardiovascular fitness gains.  Listen to your body and the pain signals it gives you.  If your joints are in acute pain, do not continue to damage them with over-training.  Rest them so they can heal.

Organize your days so you get enough sleep.  Remember that your body heals and regenerates while you sleep and this is a crucial component of recovery.

Proper diet is a part of recovery.  Remember to eat right after an intense workout to provide nutrients to your muscles and cells for regeneration.

While this sounds like common sense,  it is easier said than done.  We are so emotional about our routines and we fear failure so much that the thought of rest seems counterproductive somehow.  When your emotions get the better of you, remember how much you will fall back in your training if your injuries put you completely out of commission.

On Consistency:  Consistency is the key to all successful programs.  If we do not give up on ourselves, we will succeed.  However, we need to educate ourselves on what will help us maintain our fitness regimens.  Obviously, if we take a week off every other week, we will not see results. We need to exercise and eat right on a regular basis. Remember that if you stop working out for a long period, your muscles will atrophy. While recovery is important, you don’t want to take so much time off that you regress in your practice.

We have to plan our training days, our recovery days and how we feed ourselves. Once we make an effort to plan out the changes that will lead to a healthier and fitter body, they will become our new habits and we can stay fit for life.

When planning for consistency, take your nutrition intake and recovery into account.  If you like to exercise every day, plan to cross train so you are training a different muscle in a different way each day and you are not causing overuse injuries in your joints.  Plan to take that one day off a week.

Remember to fuel your workouts with proper meals.  A restorative yoga class may  not require you to eat much but a class that involves weight lifting or intense cardio bursts will require extra nutrition in order to make it through.

Stop filling your shelves and refrigerator with junk food.  Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry.  Make a list of healthy foods from all food groups.  Tell yourself that water is the elixir of heaven and that fresh foods rich in nutrients are the greatest treat you can give yourself because they will bring you clear skin, a balanced mental state and real energy.  Start looking at junk food for what it is, junk, a waste of calories and a waste of money.  It takes some time to shift our mentality and our habits from one of an unhealthy lifestyle to one of a healthy lifestyle but when we succeed in doing this, the rewards are endless.

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work, second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” –Thomas Edison

By Rhea Morales

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