Ok, slow down with the School House Rock terminology for just one second…
What I mean is, be weary of words like “always” or “never” or phrases like “you must”, “the best”, the “worst” when it comes to fitness and nutrition advice.
I have seen it all over, and frankly, I’m sick of it. Trainers telling clients that they must always do this, never do that, always eat this, never eat that. This is all bogus advice.
Every single human is different, and every single human will respond differently to different food and different exercises. Some of the most commonly quoted phrases by fitness and nutrition “professionals” can be some of the most damning phrases that might just add more stress to your life.
1) Need to lose more fat? You NEED to start doing more cardio!
100% bull. If you need to lose more fat, you need to make sure you are creating a caloric deficit. There are plenty of people, myself included, who have lost lot’s of fat without doing “cardio”. Do you enjoy going for jogs, and this is how you choose to try to create your deficit? Great! Go for it!
However, this is not something that you HAVE to do. Often times people will use the line “I just need to do more cardio” as a band-aid of sorts, to cover up nutrition or lifestyle choices that maybe need to be addressed first.
Sometimes the honest truth hurts, but you might just need to audit yourself first and explore what else might be going on.
Cardio is fine, but it is not the holy grail of losing more fat.
If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy running, or traditional cardio, what should you do?
- Look at you TOTAL daily activity. How many steps do you take? Try figuring out your daily average over the course of a week and increase it by 10-20%. Change nothing else, and you may be shocked. When I entered my dietetic internship, I went from being on my feet all day as a trainer (averaging 12,000 steps) to mostly sitting (4000 steps) and gained 10 pounds, without changing anything else. Once I made the conscious effort to get back up to a step level that the rest of my lifestyle (workouts and diet) agreed with, the weight came back off.
- Audit your diet. Do you know how much you are truly consuming in a day? It is always helpful to track and measure, but especially if you are hitting a plateau of sorts. Don’t go TOO low however, as your body will not be able to sustain your current workouts and may actually stall out more. Find the sweet spot that keeps you energized for workouts, but also leads to the body you desire.
2) You don’t EVER need cardio, you can get your results from lifting and diet alone.
“What?? Didn’t YOU just say this above?” Yes, but I put “cardio” in quotes – as I was referring to slugging away on a treadmill, or heaven forbid the elliptical.
What I mean by this is: cardiovascular training in an aerobic state is very important for heart health, and this is something that cannot be ignored. It is crucial to a healthy internal system and life.
However, I do feel that everyone should do some form of resistance, because having a strong body helps maintain a level of independence into our old age, and that is the ultimate goal of staying strong. Do you need to train like a powerlifter, bodybuilder, athlete? NO!
Find what you enjoy, and give it your all.
Same thing goes for cardio.
However, you don’t need to necessarily do the traditional, boring cardio that we all think of to get these benefits.
- Try hiking, or biking. These are two great ways to get fresh air, explore the world we live in, and get your heart rate up a little. Plan out a hike on the weekend, so for a bike ride.
- If you live in a climate like Wisconsin, you know that this cannot be done year round* – snowshoeing is a great alternative. Take to the gym and do some circuits, or mix up your workouts with some timed sets, or join a group fitness class that keeps your heart rate elevated. Anything that gets you breathing a little heavier and sweating is a great option.
- One of my favorite options is a dumbbell complex. Take an upper body, lower body, and a weighted carry and do them circuit style for a few rounds. This can be anything, but keep rest to a minimum.Try:
- 10 Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- 15 Dumbbell Squats
- 1 minute farmer carry
- Repeat 5 times, minimal rest between.
3) Never eat _____, Always eat _____ (especially if there is time involved)…
“Never eat carbs after 3 pm”
“Always slam a protein shake within 30 minutes of your workout”
Here’s the deal. You can fit ANY food you want into you eating plan. It all depends on your goals, and how quickly you want to reach them.
Want to eat ice cream once in a while? Do it – just make it work within your calorie and macronutrient goals.
Want to eat carbs after 3pm, and you are afraid? Non-sense. The little insulin fairy won’t appear out of nowhere and automatically send all your carbs to fat storage. What matters more is your overall, daily intake – not your nutrient timing (for most people).
If you are SO concerned about getting a protein shake in right after your workout, but are only consuming shakes, and getting 50 grams of protein a day, your timing of your shake is not your biggest issue that you need to enforce.
Here’s what matters more:
- Focus on mostly quality nutrition. Nutrient dense foods are good for you – that’s pretty hard to argue with. Get your veggies, fruits, lean proteins, and quality carbs at most meals of the day and you well generally be on the right track.
- Kids baseball team going out for ice cream? Join them. Family matters, and it’s important that you are there for your kids, and you don’t make a big fuss about the “morality” of good and bad foods. Foods don’t come with morals (even though we are constantly taught that). Just be mindful. Do you want a little ice cream? Have you followed tip #1 all day? Do you still have some calories to spare? Okay, then get a small cone – this doesn’t been you need to go gangbusters and get the large chocolate soaked 4 scoop sundae.You can make food like this work, if you are on top of tracking, and know your calorie and macro goals.
- There is no one food that makes us fat, or no one food that we must consume to be fit. If you absolutely don’t like a food, then find a substitute.
- Remember that you are also ultimately in control. You decide what you use your own hand to move food from a plate into your own mouth. The freedom to choose is yours, embrace it, and enjoy it.
Find what works for you, give it your all, and don’t look back. You will find it freeing, and much more fun than following what the gurus tell you that you must/cannot do.
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Stay healthy my friends,