If you think that the only way to get a toned body is by heading down to wherever the nearest set of weights are and flexing your flexible gym pass, then you’d be wrong. Of course the gym has its place in a healthy lifestyle, and can improve drastically help improve our fitness if used correctly. But think about this, how much time do people spend in the gym and how much time do they spend away from the gym?
If you train three times a week for 2 hours, then that is 6 hours in the gym. But that leaves a massive 162 hours of the week not at the gym. It is the lifestyle that we choose to lead that will most greatly affect our wellbeing and fitness. By utilising some basic tips, you can get the most from the rest of week, and you won’t risk ruining all the hard work and sweat expended in those magical 6 hours at the gym. So here are a few pointers to help.
Your diet is no less important than your exercise levels. Don’t believe me? Then think of this. Is it easier to cut 500 calories from your diet or burn 500 calories in the gym? Well, it takes 45 minutes of intense physical exercise to burn 500 calories, and it takes only 3 or 4 minutes to eat 2 slices of pizza – which is more than 500 calories. But that doesn’t mean we should starve ourselves and not eat. Quite the opposite.
The body needs fuel to function. Starve it of its energy source and it makes its own, stripping away your own supply of muscle mass. So you need to eat to kick-start your metabolism, and fuel your body. Just eat good, wholesome foods such as….
Complex carbohydrates from wholegrains are much better than starch-based simple carbohydrates from, say, white bread. For example, a good healthy, oat-based breakfast (and you must eat breakfast) will make you feel fuller for longer, meaning less snacks, and you won’t be creating energy spikes from refined sugars. These spikes come before a crash, where after you automatically reach for easy calories such as biscuits. Eating, and moreover, eating well is crucial.
It repairs damaged muscles, and going to the gym or exercising will damage (not injure) your muscles. So a good clean source of protein, such as oily fish, is essential.
Sounds good right, but I’m referring to water. You have to maintain your body hydration levels, and often people mistake thirst for hunger and eat when all they really needed was a drink. Hydration is key to avoiding muscle depletion also.
In terms of training, not breaks! Some people feel that pounding the roads over long runs or on the treadmill is the secret to weight loss. It can play a part, but intensive interval training is great too. Going all out for 20 seconds, less so for the following 20 seconds and repeating for a total of, say, 30 minutes (HIIT), raises the heart levels, keeps muscles toned and is more invigorating and engaging than simple pounding monotony.
Engage in full body activities by combining exercises such as press-ups with one raised leg. These are great. They are body specific rather than individual muscle targeted, and will leave you feeling better all over.
People are frightened of lifting weights, thinking that they will just bulk up and look odd. Truth is, muscles burn more calories than fat, so having muscles will mean your body is working for you as opposed to against you. Also, they do not have to be grown, they can be sculpted for a toned look rather than a body builder physique. Incorporating weights into your regime will pay dividends.
Stress raises cortisone levels which is the body’s tool for storing fat. So think of destressing. How you do it is up to you, it may mean hitting boxing pads or taking up yoga. Just don’t make it a Netflix binge with a tub of ice-cream.
There are many Apps that will help you with your fitness or toning goals. Use technology to track your progress or offer advice on different exercises. Technology can be a great training aid. At the same time use your own ideas. If you see a flight of stairs or a lift, take the stairs. Maybe go out for a walk during your lunchbreak, or meet up with friends in the park rather than the pub. It will all add up.
…To yourself. Being healthy is the right thing, but it can be the hard thing at times, too. So, if you have a slip, do not punish yourself, just accept it and then move on. Think about the overall aim, rather than the individual misdemeanours. Be wary of getting back into bad habits and engage in activities which will become new and better habits. Above all, though, do not feel like you have failed. Instead, simply remember that you have made a decision to change and that it is the right decision for you.
Definitely eat carbs if you work out a lot. Wholegrain bread (I like rye) and sweet potatoes are healthy and will give you energy and keep you full.
how refreshing to read a health article that doesn't demonise carbs, but takes the common-sense approach of recognising that wholegrains and cake are different things.