When I first started getting serious about working out and living a healthy lifestyle, let’s be honest and say that I really had no idea what I was doing. A lot came naturally to me but most was learned through my own personal experience and research to figure out what worked/did not work for my body.
Though I don’t regret the journey I’ve been on, I do wish that I would have learned some things sooner rather than later. I hope some of my mistakes will help you to better your personal health journey.
1. Using the Term “Cheat Meal.” There is no greater deception to the idea of balance than the words “cheat meal”. One, glorious, rare meal that you allow yourself to have once a week? That’s not balance. You deprive yourself all week in hopes that the meal you’ve been holding out for all week will satisfy you… #wrong. You will most likely turn your cheat meal into a cheat day that turns into a cheat weekend that turns into you giving up all together. If you are disciplined enough to consistently only have one cheat meal every week, then I applaud you. But if you are struggling to keep up, then it’s time to embrace some balance. What is a cheat meal anyway? What are you cheating on? Your diet? Why does your diet have to be so strict that you have to cheat on it? Can’t you just have what you want in moderation and eliminate the idea of cheating all together? Stop setting yourself up for failure and limiting yourself. You really can have treats and achieve your fitness goals… I think they refer to that as ‘having your cake and eating it too.’
2. Taking Time Off. When I started to see results from working out and changing my diet, it became kind of addicting. A little too addicting. I felt like if I didn’t workout for a few days, that I would lose all of my progress. I had zero concept of balance and it was leading me to feel burnt out. My progress plateaued and I got bored. Now I make it a priority to embrace balance. This is still a little challenging for me because fitness is literally how I love to spend my time, so I struggle to take a break because I don’t know what else to do with myself, but at least that’s healthier than not taking a break because I feel like I can’t. Embracing balance is challenging at first, but I think you’ll find that you like the results so much more.
3. Not Stretching. You would think that stretching and working out are a packaged deal, but let’s be honest no one actually spends a significant amount of time stretching. I sure didn’t. It slowly started to catch up with me as I started to lift more weight and push my body farther. Flexibility is actually just as admirable as strength and it has a ton of benefits for your body. Plus, there’s nothing more frustrating than nursing an injury and being held back from reaching your goals.
4. Not Making Things More Challenging. I remember being super sore after every workout during the first month or so of my journey. Then it sort of dropped off; sometimes I would be sore the next day but most times I wouldn’t be. I realized that my body was becoming used to the workouts that I was doing… I wasn’t challenging myself enough by increasing the weight that I was lifting or switching up the exercises that I was doing. My body became so good at performing certain movements that it was almost not worth doing. Now I vary my workouts to keep my body on it’s toes; literally by doing things like Pure Barre. I also bike and run and hike with my dogs. In the gym, I try not to do the same exercises constantly and I don’t get caught up in quantity but quality of reps.
5. Not Eating More. I was definitely in denial for a while about the volume of food that I was consuming. I think that it’s really easy to believe that we eat too much, but what about convincing yourself that you don’t eat enough? It is a little easier said than done. It’s difficult to find a healthy balance between eating enough to build muscle and not overeating. There is a simple science, however, if you want to gain muscle you have to gain weight which means that you have to intake more calories than you are burning. If you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you intake. I was trying to build muscle, and was getting frustrated when I started putting hours in at the gym and not seeing the results that I felt like I should have had at that point in time. Upping my daily calorie intake really helped me to gain the muscle mass that I was looking for.
6. Not Celebrating Progress. Your health/fitness journey is just that; a journey… There really is not a stopping point or final destination. If you get into the habit of celebrating your tiny successes and accomplishments, you will be much happier with your progress! Some things that I do to celebrate myself when I feel like I deserve it are:
- Buying a new gym outfit or new gym shoes.
- Treating myself to one of the fun (34083058) calorie drinks at Starbucks.
- Buying a new bathing suit.
- Get a pedicure or a massage.