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Five Truths of Health and Fitness

Today we’re going to talk about five truths of health and fitness that are for EVERYONE.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day and is enjoying their Presidents' Day.

People are starting to buckle down on this year’s goals.  For some, weight loss is relevant now more than ever.  For others, obsessively checking off items on to-do lists is everyday’s biggest priority.  Some of us are a month and a half into our plan.  Some of us have fallen off and need to reevaluate our goals and means of getting to our goals.

If we are almost two months into our plan, we need to be seeing results.  This brings us to our first truth.

Truth #1: Reassessments are crucial to our success.

If we do not reassess where we are with our goals and plans to get to our goals, how can we possibly ensure success?

Ideally, we created goals and roadmaps to our goals towards the beginning of the year.  If we did, then we should be executing the plan, and if we are executing, then we should be seeing results almost two months out.  Two months isn’t a lifetime, but it’s enough time to see some kind of change.

If weight loss is the goal, certainly improvement can be seen in 8 weeks.  Reassessing where you are to where you thought you would be at this point is CRITICAL in achieving goals.  Reassessment gives us perspective on how effective our strategy to achieve our goals really is.  If losing ten pounds by summer is the goal, then we should be well on our way 8 weeks in.  If we’re not, than we need a new plan.

This seems to be the biggest thing I see.  If you have been doing something for x amount of years and are still reaching for the same goals, you have the wrong plan.  It is not working.  Take a different approach.

Sometimes we stay on the same plan because it is “easier” or we THINK we know that it “really does work”.  If you are not seeing results after two months of CONSISTENT EFFORT, it really doesn’t work.  It’s as simple as that.  First, make sure the goals are realistic and the plan is logical.  Then, execute.  Finally, reassess.  If you no progress is made, go back to step one and modify your goals or your plan. And if you made progress, KEEP GOING!!

Okay, so let’s talk about weight loss because it is so relatable.

Truth Number 2: Strength training aids in weight loss.

For those (women mainly), who think that strength training makes you “bulky”, I will tell you this:  Bulking takes mindful and consistent effort.  You do not ‘accidentally’ bulk.  It requires consistent and often heavy, strength training combined with a higher calorie diet.  If you are “bulking” from moderate strength training 1-3 times a week, it is not from the strength training.  It is MOST LIKELY from excess calories consumed.

So now that we have debunked the too-often heard, “I bulk when I lift weights”, let’s look at what strength training ACTUALLY does to our bodies.

Strength training improves our muscle mass.  By building muscle, we create tissue that continues to expend energy (burn calories) at rest, unlike adipose (fat) tissue.  By having more tissue that burns calories constantly, we increase our basal metabolic rate (amount of calories we burn in a day to be alive) and ultimately, increase how many calories we can burn in a day!

Strength training improves our motor recruitment.  This means that we teach our muscles to fire in groups so the more we strength train, the stronger we get, and the more muscle groups learn to work together.  The more muscles that are working, the more energy is needed, and again, more calories are burned.

Strength training improves our bone density.  This one is probably my favorite perk of strength training.  Improving our bone density is so important as we get older to fight against osteoporosis and arthritis, among many other benefits.  Having better bone density also helps protect us from breaks, especially as we get older.

The combined improvement in muscle mass and bone density from strength training is extremely effective in helping us as we get older!

Suppose my 80 year old client missteps off the curb at the street light on Broadway.  Maybe increased muscle mass in her legs helps her catch herself before she falls to the ground.  Or maybe it’s the improved motor recruitment that fires more muscles to help catch herself before she falls to the ground.

Suppose she doesn’t quite catch herself and she does go to the ground.  Little to no bone density results in broken, and even shattered bones.  Improved bone density might help my client stand back up and walk the fall off.

But this doesn’t just apply to my 80 year old client. It could apply to my 40 year old mother;) or 30 year old friend.  Everyone can benefit from having stronger, more durable bones.

Okay so aside from better quality of life, let’s talk more about weight loss.

Truth Number 3: More is not always better.

Another thing I hear often: “I need to lose ten pounds, let’s workout five times this week.”

Ahh!  Wanting or needing to lose weight is not solely dependent on how much you exercise and often times, exercising more isn’t the answer.

  • “I was in the gym for three hours yesterday.”  Congratulations for your time in the gym.  That is excellent that you have the discipline to be in the gym for three hours at a time.  As for how that aids in weight loss, you may have just wasted that time.

  • “I ran 8 miles yesterday.”  Congratulations on running 8 miles!  That’s more than I ever run at a time for sure.  Long distance isn’t really my thing;)  If running 8 miles felt good for you, than that’s excellent.  If you were running 8 miles to burn off five pounds, you may have just wasted that time and effort.

When it comes to exercising, more isn’t always better because we may be too taxed to be making progress.  If we are stressed out or too tired, running or exercising more can actually retain weight.

Our body sees our taxed CNS (Central Nervous System) as a state of emergency, similar to if we were starving, and it actually holds on to fat, in case we are in fact, starving.  Our body doesn’t know the difference between stress from a bad break up, being eaten by a bear, a stressful job, being stuck in a house fire, or financial depression.  It only knows how our brain is telling us to react to those things and if we are highly stressed (for whatever reason), our bodies can oppose burning fat and actually burn muscle instead.  So if we’re in the gym pumping mad iron or running until we collapse to burn extra calories, we might actually be furthering our state of stress.

What we might need more of is, get ready for it, rest.

Truth Number 4: Resting is one of the most overlooked aspect to improved health and fitness.

Whatever is your stress in life (and everyone has stress), it can inhibit your ability to get to your health goals if you are not accounting for your stress.  Take a look at your stress level- relative to YOU- on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the most stressed possible), where does your stress lie?

For those who feel stressed, it is important to make sure you are getting enough rest and recovery.  My loyalty to moderation remains consistent even when it comes to stress.  It’s not about taking out all of the stress in your life.  Instead, if we can counter the stress with things that help us relax on a regular basis, we can actually benefit from the stress because it can continue

acting as the stimulus that we can grow

from with the proper recovery!

Like I mentioned before, our CNS reacts to stress (no matter where the stress is coming from) and actually changes the state of your body.  When we are stressed, we go into “fight or flight” and our sympathetic system takes over and performs a number of functions, all which provide our body the best environment to adapt to stress.  If we are in this state all day long, and then go to the gym and complete a high intensity work out, we are furthering that stress.

In this highly stressed state or “fight or flight”, our digestion takes a back seat.  Our body purposefully minimizes digestion because it isn’t as important as getting more blood to our muscles- in case we need to run away.

Weird.  If more blood is going to our muscles during this state of stress, why should we not do high intensity work?  It would seem as though the muscles would be fully equipped to do lots of work??

This is true.  Our muscles are ready to work… to get us away from the stress.  It is a state of emergency.  Think about the last time you experienced an emergency.  Maybe where someone needed medical attention.

Let’s say your sister, or student, or friend falls and breaks her arm.  Emergency.  Brain activity turns on high.  You are alert and wide awake.  Your heart is beating fast.  You assess the room quickly to look for other dangers, while you either call for help or direct someone to call for help.  You run to get ice or direct someone to get ice while you stay and console the sister/student/friend/etc.

You are not tired in this state.  But maybe when your sister/student/friend/etc. gets medical attention needed and the fog has settled, now you are tired.  Maybe even exhausted.  Are you ready to work out now??

Probably not.

Essentially, if you are in a state of stress all day from work, relationships, home, whatever, you are in some sort of state of emergency.  Maybe not quite to the extent of the situation I described, but ultimately your body is going through the same reactions.  Trying to workout hard after a full day in this state, won’t do your body any good.

On the same note, if you spent all day highly stressed and avoiding digestion, how well do you think your body has processed the foods that you ate that day, to be able to workout?

Probably not well.

Performing activities that relax you and help you recover will make your time in the gym much more efficient and your goals much more attainable.

If you can identify that you did not sleep enough that night or are particularly stressed from what happened that day, maybe taking a yoga class would be a better fit than killing yourself in the gym…

Maybe instead of focusing on how hard you are or are not going in the gym, you could focus on getting to bed a little earlier or turning off all of your electronics well before bed to help you wind down before falling asleep.

By resting and recovering, we can facilitate better digestion, increased energy production, and better work quality.  Plus, we get to enjoy our lives a little more.

Finally, we come to our final truth for today.

Truth #5: Abs ARE made in the kitchen.

Tale as old as time.  I wish I had a different truth for you today but this one really is gold.  What we put into our body is one of the most important facts about how our bodies look and function.

BUT WAIT!  There’s some amazing news to this!  We have the ability to CHOOSE what we put into our bodies every day!

It’s not like what we chose to put into our bodies 10 years ago are the end-all, be-all to the rest of our lives in regards to body composition.

What we put into our bodies does effect how our bodies look and function in ten years but we have the ability to change it if we are not liking the results…. aaaaand we’re back to reassessment.

If weight loss is what you are after, it’s time to look at your diet and what kind of physical activity you have during each day.  So much of what we look like and how we feel is dependent on what we put into our bodies, so choose wisely.  Not to say that you can NEVER have that candy bar, or cookie, or glass of wine… Not at all.  Just not all the time, not everyday.  Eat clean MOST of the time, and have your splurges once in a while, maybe once a week- and then, ENJOY them.

I think everyone likes to have the “secret” of health and fitness… but there aren’t really any secrets, just truths.  Truths aren’t as glamorous or as easy, but they are longer lasting and more fulfilling.


My bet is that you were active, stressed but happy, maybe not eating the best but eating fairly clean.  You were probably sleeping a little less than you know you should but you were close.

And if not, let me know!  Let me know, what does your best look and feel like??  How do the truths that I mentioned today play a factor in that time in your life?

Try looking at these truths and where they play a role in your life today and maybe set a plan for next week to try making these truths a bigger priority.  Then, see how they affect you.

Thanks for taking the time to tune in!  Have a great week and get ready for a great MARCH!!

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