Gymtimidation is a very real thing. Luckily I belong to a gym where lunks are just not allowed. Planet Fitness is the only gym I’ve ever been a member of, and in my opinion it is the best place to start. When you sign up, you’re given a full tour of the gym. Even when you start working out, you are encouraged to ask questions if you have them - a staff member will personally assist you and show you the correct technique for the machine in question.
At one point, I went to a different gym with a friend of mine. I don’t remember the name of that gym, and even if I did, I wouldn’t post it here. Going to the gym with my friend turned out to be a very overwhelming experience. There were so many machines. Everyone was lifting at least 5X more than what I was lifting. The reps my friends were doing were 3X more than what I could do. I kept up with them the best I could, and I was sore for LITERALLY a week afterward. And all the people! There were people damn near screaming their way through their reps. There were photographers, taking pictures of certain athletes. It was seriously crazy. The good thing about that visit was that I realized how happy I was at Planet Fitness. At the other gym, I developed a certain social awkwardness I’ve never had before, especially inside a gym. I was nervous. I stayed right next to friend. I wouldn’t go to a machine without her. And the worst part was, when I voiced that I was uncomfortable and felt like I was pushing past my limit, she just said “Oh come on, don’t be such a wimp!” I understand that some people respond well to the “trainer” type workout partner, but I don’t. Trainers are excellent if your mind is your only obstacle. In my case, my physical body was what was holding me back. And she didn’t listen. I’ve declined several requests to workout with her since.
Gymtimidation is very real, and unfortunately it keeps a lot of people from trying new things in their gym. Some people want to try a machine in the middle of the gym, but shy away because it’s surrounded by other people. Some people want to try a certain machine that they’re worried they won’t be able to do, and turn away because they don’t want to be laughed at for their inexperience. Heck, some people just don’t want to look stupid while trying something new! I’ve been all of these people. I’ve worried that I’d be judged, or laughed at, or look stupid. Most of all, I’ve been worried that someone would make a rude comment about my size. Luckily, I was able to overcome all of those worries. My method? Only try new machines at night.
I do this for two reasons. Firstly – I don’t want to be laughed at for not knowing what I’m doing. Secondly – I don’t want to get rushed off of the machine without making my technique perfect. If you practice wrong, you will perform wrong. Going during non-peak gym hours allows me to have the machine to myself, where I can figure out exactly how my body should be working. Once I get my form absolutely perfect, I allow myself to walk away from the machine. This method has truly worked for me! I have kept myself free of injury by giving myself enough time to become familiar with my machines. In addition, I can walk into the middle of the crowded gym and ROCK my machine of choice!
I encourage all of you to take the time to get to know your machines. Don’t rush it because you are intimidated. Give yourself the time you need to learn. Some people take longer than others – and that’s okay! It’s your body. You should be comfortable, at all times!
Eat at the same time every day.
Even if you're eating complete and total shit - Be consistent about your shit eating. Do it at the same time every day, 7 days a week.
It has to do with training your metabolism - which is a fancy way of saying You train your body to use your food for energy instead of storing it as fat. If you eat at the same time every day, your body notices. Imagine your body saying "Oh yay! I don't have to store this food as fat, because I know I'm going to get fed again in three hours. Let me burn this off right quick." Diet or no diet, this is important.
Diet or no diet, this is important. Everything but water is either loaded with chemicals or sugar (but I'm not gonna fight that battle today). If you don't like the taste of plain water; add lemon, mint, or lime.
Fat leaves your body in two ways, pee and sweat. So the natural answer to How do I lose weight is pee more and sweat more. That translates to drink more water and make your body sweat.
Invest in a Fitbit, and actually use it.
If you don't know what a Fitbit is, let me be the first to enlighten you. A Fitbit is a fitness tracker. You wear it on you wrist like a watch. They range anywhere from $60 - $250, and they are worth every single penny. In addition to real-time step and calorie tracking, some of the more advanced models have features that track the flights of stairs you climb throughout the day, your heart rate, and answer calls with the touch of a button. In addition to the actual trackers (which are very well made), you get a whole world (literally speaking) of support via messageboards and communities. You can add friends who have Fitbits and see how your activity compares to theirs over the last 7 days. Fitbit is an excellent company - I recently LOST my tracker. I was no one's fault but my own. When I emailed the company to see if they could use GPS to locate my device, they offered to send me a new one completely free of change. They are incredibly loyal to their customers and NO, I am not being payed to write this article. That's just a huge perk.
If you're not someone who has the time and energy to spend at the gym, this will show you that some exercise is better than none. The trip to the restroom, the walk to and from your car, walking next door... It all matters. Fitbit technology takes these steps and adds them together and gives you a very accurate idea of how many miles you've walked. That's right, miles. Before long, you'll find yourself parking at the end of the parking lot just so you can hit your step goal for the day. You'll be walking laps around your house at 10:00pm just trying to get those last few steps in before bed. There's something comforting about knowing that what you're doing, matters. And that's why so many people (like myself) SWEAR by the use of Fitbits.
Find healthy options of foods you already eat.
I love pasta so much that I've actually considered the possibility that I'm Italian and nobody told me. In fact, if you looks in my Recipe section, you can see that even my very restrictive diet can't come between me and my Pasta. The difference? I use whole wheat pasta (aka the brown stuff) and do you know what? My taste buds can't tell the difference.
First things first, carbs are your primary source of energy. If you stop eating carbs all together, your car runs out of gas (so to speak). But most importantly - Diets don't work if you don't stick to them. If you cut all carbs out of your life, your body is just going to crave them until your break. It's better to have a healthy serving of carbs every day, than to starve yourself of energy until your break your diet and binge eat the entire McDonalds menu.
Don't ever stop.
This is so important, and I know how cliche it sounds. But don't ever stop. You have a cheat meal? Alright. Drink lots of water to flush the toxins out, and get back on the band wagon tomorrow. You missed a workout because school/work/life was too overwhelming? That's okay. Promise yourself that you'll push yourself to the max at your next workout. Your Uncle ate some of the meals you had prepped for yourself? Treat yourself to healthy meal out with friends instead. You're craving chocolate? Eat half of the bar, and drop the other half in the toilet and throw it away (assume you don't have anyone around you that'd like a free half chocolate bar). Don't let a bad day, rotten mood, or bump in the road derail all of your success. There's a quote that says "You didn't gain all the weight by eating ONE bad meal. So don't think you'll gain it all back after one cheat."
Think of the reasons you want to be healthier. Think of the people that want to watch you fail. The people that want you to succeed. What kind of an example are you setting for those people? For your siblings, for your children? You CAN do it!
Monday morning, I found myself reading the blog of Annamarie Rivera (known to most of us on Instagram as @weightlosswithannamarie). She posted a wonderful blog recently called “Early Morning Workouts! Tips and Benefits!” and it’s pretty safe to say that it changed my life. (Read it here).
I’m up every morning by 4:45, and at work every morning by 6:00. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve never considered adding early workouts to my schedule. However, after reading her blog post, I was blown away. Most of the suggestions for actually getting up and going to workout, were things I found that I was already doing. (Example: Laying out my clothes the night before, prepping breakfast the night before, setting my alarm clock across the room). And then, she went into the benefits of morning workouts. My favorite was the potential to burn more fat! After I read her post, I was definitely interested.
As if by fate, another friend I met through Instagram posted that she was doing cardio early that very same morning! I immediately sent her a text asking about it. The main thing I took from our conversation was her very first text, “You will drop weight like crazy because it’s fasted cardio so you will burn basically complete fat” followed by “If you think about it you didn’t just eat so you’re not burning off your food”.
So that got me thinking. Fasted cardio? I’ve heard of people practicing religious fasting, but I never payed attention to the benefits of it. Fasted cardio is a term I’d never even heard before! I decided to google it. I searched “fasted cardio” and of the articles that came up, this one was my favorite (click here to read).
Immediately, this article confirmed that fasted cardio does, in fact, burn more stored fat than a normal cardio workout. In Annamarie’s blog, she used the figure 20%, but I’m not sure how accurate that is or where it came from. The article goes on to explain the actual science of why you burn more fat during fasted cardio. Spoiler:
1) Low insulin levels. (This means there’s less insulin in your blood and more room for the fat your body naturally stores)
2) Low blood sugar. (Think of your body like a car, and blood sugar like gas. When you wake up, your blood sugar is low. Low gas. So what does your body, or car, do? It calls on it’s friend Fat Reserve!)
3) High Growth Hormone Levels. (Your insulin hates these. They never chill in your blood at the same time. If you’ve got low insulin, you’ve got high growth hormones. These two go up and down during the day, but in the morning when your insulin is low, your growth hormone levels are high. Why is that important? Because when this Growth Hormone is chillin' in your blood, like it does every morning, it invites it’s friend the Fat Reserve to come chill with it. That’s enough to make anyone break down fat stores. But pair it with #2, low blood sugar, and you’ve got a recipe for Fat Reserve loss.)
Basically, during fasted cardio, your body is FORCED to use fat reserves. That’s super good news for anyone, like myself, whose primary goal is to burn fat! I’ve read more articles than this, but I felt like this article did the best job of explaining the science behind WHY it works the way that it does.
After much consideration, I’d decided that I’ll be adding a fasted cardio sessions every day of the week, beginning next Monday morning. After a week, I’ll let you guys know how it went for me. Do you have any fasted cardio experience? Comment or email me and lets talk about it! Until then.
I already know what happens when I give up. I want to see what will happen if I don't.