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10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days – Tip 10 – Never Give Up

This is one of the many reasons most people don’t stick to their New Years resolution of getting into shape.  Nothing is more demotivating than having to wait in line with 3 other people for a bench or a treadmill.  However, don’t let the high crowds in the gym end up being your downfall, instead use it as your motivation.

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Gym attendance always spikes in January with New Years resolutions and then vastly tapers off in mid to late February.  If you can last thru the crowds, you’ll find that most gyms tend to thin out around the mid-February timeframe making your workouts more enjoyable and include less waiting.  It’s actually a comical joke among my “regular” gym buddies.  “Yup, just a few more weeks and things will be back to normal,” they say.  But don’t end up like one of those quitters they talk about!

Here are some additional reasons many people give up: (some of these are recaps of previous tips, which means they’re important)

1.  Gym too crowded – see above.

2.  I don’t know what to do. - Get help from a “regular”.  If you have a friend or relative who is a gym “regular”, solicit their help.  But be careful, make sure your friend or relative have proven results.  Nothing like the blind leading the blind.  Alternately, get assistance from a trained professional.  Many gyms offer trainer services.  Hire one.  They are probably less expensive than you think they are.  Want to give a triathlon a shot (it’s a great way to have both a goal and a carrot hanging out in front of you to keep training), then think about getting a coach.

One additional thing you can try is to do the research yourself.  I did and dug through a TON of books and articles to figure out what worked and what was just a fad.  In a previous tip I gave you some examples of what’s in my library.  It’s only a sampling of what I used as research.

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3.  I don’t see results. - Folks, there are no miracle weight loss cures or magic pills that guarantee immediate or super fast results.  You have to work at it, and it will take time.  If you can commit 12 solid weeks to a proper (non-fad) diet and proper exercise, you will see results.  You cannot lose 50 pounds in a month.  However, health and fitness isn’t just a 12 week program.  If you want to keep off the weight that you lose, you must make permanent lifestyle changes.  If you think of a “diet” as something that you “go on”, you are already set up for failure.  With this assumption, you think that at some point you can “go off” the diet.  The minute you do, you will start regaining the weight you lost.  Once again, if you want to see results, it will take time, sometimes several months depending on your particular level of fitness.  If you want to see permanent results, you have to make permanent changes to your lifestyle.

4.  I lack motivation. – Find it.  Bikini by the summer?  Fit into a dress for a special occasion?  Want to lose a certain amount of weight before the next track day so you’ll be faster?  Want to finish a 5k run in under a certain amount of time?  Whatever your motivation is, take a picture of it and put it all around you.  Put it on your computer monitor at work, your mirror in your home bathroom, on the treadmill when you’re running, and on the dashboard of your car (not in front of the speedometer).

Having your goal or motivation in front of you will keep this on your mind all the time.  Every time you decide to reach for that donut or to splurge at lunch, take a look at your motivation (or think about it).  Every time you start to put anything in your mouth, think to yourself, “Is this going to help me reach my goal?”.  Every time you hit the snooze button when trying to wake up and go to the gym think, “Is this extra 5 or 10 minutes of sleep going to help me reach my goal.”  Every time someone offers you a beer when watching the football game, think.  Every time your relative, wife, husband, whoever tries to demotivate you, think.

5.  My wife/husband/significant other doesn’t support me.  – This can take many forms.  They can sabotage you in many ways.  Not wanting to eat healthy, not wanting to workout with you, telling you your crazy, or whatever. Don’t buy it.  Once they start seeing results, they’ll come around.

6.  I can’t do this by myself. - Find someone.  This could be a professional trainer or your buddy next door.  Find someone that will be just as dedicated to it as you will (if not more) and be accountable to them.

You have to be strong in your convictions.  This is not going to be easy or quick.  It will be extremely hard and it will take a long time. I know this may seem contrary to the “quick fix” philosophies of the weight loss and fitness industry that you see so much on t.v.  But this is the truth.  With patience, dedication and most of all, discipline, you can achieve your goals.

Hope this helps…  Keep up the great work!  I’ll keep the tips coming over the next couple of weeks, but they may not be every day (I have to get my workouts in!), so keep your eyes peeled and subscribe to my blog (see below), Facebook, and Twitter feeds!!

Marcus

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10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days – Tip 9 – Consistency is Key

Here’s where I struggle.  If you ask my training buddy, Dan the man, he’ll be quick to tell you that this is my biggest problem.  So what better way for me to face it head on than to offer it as a tip as to why it’s important and how I’m going to approach it.

Any level of success when it comes to fitness can be measured by how consistent the person was with their training.  Less consistent = less results.  Mildly consistent = mild results.  You get the picture.

Different people have different reasons for not being consistent.  Some are about being too busy, some are about traveling issues, others are just plain excuses.  Here’s how to fix them and the approach I take.

Create a Plan

If you are jumping into it day-by-day and thinking, I’ll do *something* today, without having a plan, you’ll come up short.  Even if you’re successful in dragging yourself (kicking and screaming) to the gym but have no idea what to do when you get there, not only will you look like a lost puppy wandering around, but you’ll also likely do things that won’t get you the best results.  You need to commit to your fitness by creating a plan and mapping your activities. This plan needs to be a a long term one with some real thought behind it.  If not, you may find that it is easier to to be inconsistent.

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When thinking out the plan, there should be clear, concise, measureable and achievable goals.  If your goal is weight loss, as mentioned in Tip #5, plan on losing a couple of pounds a week.5, 10 or 15 pounds a week may not be achievable and only result in you being one of the New Year’s Resolution folks that come to the gym in January but are gone by March.

Also, by creating a plan, you’re well on your way to establishing a habit.  I’ve found that exercising at least three to four times per week gets me (or keeps me) in a rhythm.  You can establish the rhythm  by getting a gym membership, purchasing home exercise equipment, buying a bike, joining an exercise group, or getting a training buddy may be some of the things you want or need to work out with consistency.

When we first started, we would plan our workouts 4 weeks at a time.  There was a goal with each of the four weeks and each day was planned as part of this process.  This was done for a reason as your body begins to adapt after 4 weeks.  You gotta keep it guessing to constantly make advances, so changing things up every 4 weeks is ideal.  This will also help keep your interest level.  Need help putting together a plan?  Pick up a book similar to what I recommended in the previous tip, get a personal trainer or a coach to help.  Results take time and that only comes through consistency.  No, you can not get instantly fit unlike some of the ads out there.

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But Damn, I’m Sore

Here’s where consistency is really important. If you go for a run for five miles on one day and avoid exercising for the next three days will only leave you feeling sore. If you workout in sporadic spurts, you’ll end up sore, or worse, injured.  For best results, you will want to gradually build up to higher and longer levels of cardiovascular strength, flexibility and strength training. A gradual increase will allow your muscles, tendons and ligaments a chance to adjust to the strains and challenges of a fitness regimen.

Get the Mental Boost

Feel like giving your co-worker a throat punch?  Sounds like you could use a way of reducing stress.  Consistent workouts not only helps to get that crap out of your system, but it also gives you a positive boost by releasing endorphins that enhance your mood. Don’t believe me?  Then get your but to exercising and find out.

Once you’ve worked out for a few weeks, you’ll find any break in your workouts, not only will you find your mood get groggy, but you’ll generally feel tired as well.

Sticking to regular exercise and getting into a regimen will keep you feeling up-and-up both physically and mentally. So stop with the excuses and get consistent.

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See you tomorrow for tip 10!

Marcus

About: 10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days is designed for me to share my experiences with you to help you lose weight (if necessary), get into shape and improve your fitness (always necessary).  I am, by no means, an expert, nutritionist, or doctor.  Instead, I am simply another normal person, such as yourself, that didn’t want to figure it out with trial/error on my own.  Instead, I gathered great information from successful athletes, coaches and other professionals.  Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or making any changes to your diet.

10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days – Tip 8 – Targeting Your Love Handles

This tip brought to you by a question that originated from the pictures of Tip #1.  Someone asked, “I tried everything to make them [love handles] fade, but nothing works. Do you have any tips?”

Any successful weight loss regime will consist of diet and exercise. As for the diet, you have to get rid of the junk and start eating right (see Tip #6).

As for exercise, the trick that Alba (see below) and I used during our initial weight loss and over the subsequent years (before I got into racing) was a combination of both weight training and cardio. We did 3 days of very focused strength training per week along with 3 or 4 days of cardio (20-40 minutes per day) on opposite days from our weight training. The 7th day was a day of rest. (I can give you more specifics about the workouts, you only have to ask).

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Once I started racing, my exercising took a turn towards very focused activities that were geared towards the races, making me stronger in each of the sports along with specific timing of the events.

Since the person asked about particular exercises to target love handles (or anyone thinking about other problem areas), let me touch on that subject. Contrary to popular belief (and exercise equipment ads on late night t.v.), there is NO way to focus on one part of the body when it comes to fat loss. The human body just doesn’t work that way. Although you can build up a certain muscle by targeting that specific muscle, you can not target a particular part of the body when it comes to burning fat.

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In general it seems the last area to lose fat for a particular person is the first area to gain it. Gender also plays a role. Men tend to store fat on the abdominal region (hence the term beer gut and love handles) whereas women accumulate it around the hips and thighs. Heck, in my short time off from training over the holidays, my abdominal region has already started to show this problem.  Time to get back to work!!

Training either of these areas exclusively (attempting to reduce fat in only that specific area) in the hope of losing fat, in that area, simply does not work. Fat instead is lost evenly, because that’s how your body uses it. When burning fat, your body uses the fat stores throughout the body to provide energy to burn. It’s a bit more complicated, but basically that’s how it works.

Another misconception is targeted weight training. A lot of guys will work arms and chest one day, while working back and shoulders another. Although this is great if your goal is to build mass, and it does aid in recovery, it is not the correct approach if your goal is to lose weight.  If your goal is fat loss, training every body-part with equal intensity coupled with aerobic/cardio training remains the most effective means of losing fat. Initially, on weight training days, I did not focus on only one area per workout. All of my weight training days consists of a full-body workout. After I had obtained the goal of losing the weight, then my goal changed to strength and muscle mass which at the time, changed the way I structured my workouts.

The person pointed out that I lost my love handles from the before and after photos, but if you look carefully, the fat was burned evenly over the entire body, not just the love handles. Look at how fat my head was. geeez.

One more thing. Diet pills, fat burners, supplements that promise fat loss, especially those that claim they can target specific areas are stating nothing more than lies. If you look at ANY ad for these types of products, you will find a disclaimer that also states “When used in conjunction with a proper diet and exercise program.” Well, duh. Change the way you eat, add exercise and save the money on the rip-offs. I didn’t use them and you don’t need them.

See you tomorrow for Tip number 9.

Marcus

About: 10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days is designed for me to share my experiences with you to help you lose weight (if necessary), get into shape and improve your fitness (always necessary).  I am, by no means, an expert, nutritionist, or doctor.  Instead, I am simply another normal person, such as yourself, that didn’t want to figure it out with trial/error on my own.  Instead, I gathered great information from successful athletes, coaches and other professionals.  Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or making any changes to your diet.

10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days – Tip 7 – Pick Them Up and Put Them Down

This one will be filed under the “well- DUH!” category
Tip Number 7 is….  EXERCISE
You MUST exercise in addition to eating right to lose weight.  If you think your magic pill you see advertised on TV will allow you to lose weight without exercise….  think again.
What I am offering here is a *healthy* way to lose weight and it does not make use of drugs, fat burners, fad diets or the like.  For all intense purposes, your “magic pill” is exercise.
A good exercise program that will maximize weightloss includes BOTH strength training *and* cardio.  You could do either and lose weight, but if you want *maximum* results, you should do both.  I’m not saying that you need to get buff like Governor Arnold.  Some moderate strength training coupled with cardio will give you the best results.
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Yesterday, a friend of mine, Théoden Janes posted a link to 10 Common Myths About Working Out.  In this list, they mention that a common myth is that you burn more calories with cardio than you do with strength training.  As the article mentions that with “strength training allows calories to burn for longer after the workout.”  So, again, if you want maximum results, you should be doing both cardio and strength training.
I’ve also heard many people say that they plan on losing weight *before* they start strength training.  This is a backwards approach.  Start your strength training *to* lose weight.  If you are unsure of what to do in the gym, there are plenty of books out there that can help.  If you don’t want to tackle it alone, get a personal trainer at your local gym to help.
Here are a couple of book recommendations:
Cover Model Workout – Novice to Intermediate – It should be noted that this book is not in print anymore, but it is the one that Alba and I used back during our initial trek and is what we followed to lose the bulk of our weight and to get fit.  If you can get it, you’ll find it is a great book that uses full-body workouts to maximize your time in the gym (or at home) working out.  It also includes a comprehensive cardio plan in addition to the strength training.  The author also does an outstanding job explaining proper eating habits.
Home Workout Bible – Novice to Intermediate – Great book if you want to workout at home and stay away from the gym scene.  Personally, I feel that you NEED to go to the gym eventually in order to gain access to leg presses and cable machines that can take you to the next level.
Book of Muscle – Intermediate to Advanced – This book can be a bit daunting to the Novice.  The workouts are a bit longer and a little more complex.  Also, it can be a bit overwhelming with all the information about the different muscle groups.  However, there in lies the benefit.  If you’re ready for the “next step”, everything you wanted to learn about muscle is included.  One downfall: this book does not elaborate on cardio which is needed for additional weightloss.
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But don’t just get stuck on one of these books.  The key thing is to get started on a strength training program of some sort that doesn’t just have you wandering around the gym wondering what to do.  There are too many lost puppies in the gym this time of year as it is.  You should be going to the gym with a purpose and a plan of knowing what you need to do when you get there.
I’d love to hear your comments and questions.  Just hit the comment section below.
See you tomorrow for Tip Number 8!
Marcus

10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days – Bonus Tip – We interrupt this broadcast

Well, it’s bound to happen. Life gets in the way, so this will not be Tip 7, as I wanted it to be a workout related one. Sooooo, just think of this as a bonus tip and we’ll get back on track tomorrow with Tip 7.

See how easy that is? Life does get in the way, things get derailed and stuff happens. But the key thing is: get back on track ASAP.

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It may be something completely small (like forgetting your shoes and realizing it once you get to the gym) or something huge (an injury that sidelines you for several weeks). For me, my daughter had car trouble and I had to help her last night. Since I had to head to Richmond at o-crack-thirty this morning, I couldn’t work on Tip 7, but here we are with a bonus tip as a result.

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So when life throws you a curveball, don’t sweat it and give up, but instead get back on track as soon as possible. Sometimes you can handle the situation immediately with a little creative thinking, flexibility and determination to adapt, improvise and overcome.

Personally, I don’t need life to throw me a challenge, many times I do it to myself. Forgot my biking shoes? Going for a run instead. Forgot my riding shorts, ride in my cargo shorts instead (talk about chafing). Dislocated my ring finger? Run instead of riding. Heck, I broke my hand once. As soon as it was possible (couple of days later) I was back in the gym, splint and all, starting back into whatever weight training I could that didn’t bother my hand. Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

Don’t let little snafus completely derail you. It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN. You WILL encounter them. How you overcome them is what is important.

“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.” -Confucius

Join me tomorrow for Tip 7!

Marcus

10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days – Tip 6 – Not Eating is Making You Fat

So you’ve heard me mention this briefly and Ive gotten some questions on it, so it’s probably a good tip to throw out there with a little expansion on the topic.  Eating 6 small meals per day is one of the best ways to keep your metabolism stimulated.  This concept has been highlighted in many books, magazines and diet programs (such as The Cover Model Workout, Body for Life, etc).  However, this concept has been around for decades (way before Amazon or Barnes and Noble were around).  Although this concept has been around that long in the bodybuilding arena, it has only recently hit mainstream.  Over the recent years, many universities have done studies about, doctors have endorsed, and dieticians have recommended the 6 meal per day concept.

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On the other hand, you’ll find studies that argue that it doesn’t matter and that the overall calories consumed per day is the key measurement regardless of three or six meals.  Well, I know what worked for me, and it has for over 10 years at keeping it off.   So take a guess at what you think which one I believe.  <wink>

So how does this six meal concept work?  Most folks in the U.S. have been taught since they were children that you should be eating three meals per day.  This has resulted, along with the typical 9-5 job, in people going sometimes up to 6 hours between meals.  Not only does this allow your metabolism to come to a screeching halt between meals, it also means you are ravished before you eat.  Once you sit down to the table, you end up gorging on a huge feast until you are completely stuffed.  Then as you are lying on the couch like a beached whale, your body starts to store what it can’t burn.

Eating 6 smaller meals means that your metabolism is constantly “fed” and your body is burning the calories rather than storing them.  Basically, make the three meals you eat now smaller, and tack on 3 snack times.  This means you’ll be eating every 2-3 hours (See Tip # 2).

It’s not an easy task switching your lifestyle over from 3 to 6 meals.  However, sometimes in order to change the way you look, you need to change the way you live.

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BUT, you can’t just eat junk.  Your meals have to be nutritious and “clean”.  This means, yes, you guessed it, Lean meats, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.  Grains are important too, but try to limit refined ones.  Need some ideas for meals?  Check out my posts from 10 years ago.  My meals are still very, very similar today.

Another overlooked factor is the exercising.  You need exercise to complement the clean eating habits to be successful.  But that’s a topic for the next couple of tips.  Anyone want to start talking exercising and goals?

See you tomorrow for Tip number 7.

Marcus

About: 10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days is designed for me to share my experiences with you to help you lose weight (if necessary), get into shape and improve your fitness (always necessary).  I am, by no means, an expert, nutritionist, or doctor.  Instead, I am simply another normal person, such as yourself, that didn’t want to figure it out with trial/error on my own.  Instead, I gathered great information from successful athletes, coaches and other professionals.  Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or making any changes to your diet.

10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days – Tip 5 – Lose 20 pounds in a week

You may have heard me harp on this one before and if so, you should know by now it’s a passionate subject of mine.  Back before my blog evolved into a racing blog and it was more fitness oriented, at least 3 or 4 times a week I’d get visited by someone looking for “How to lose 40 pounds in 30 days.”  No kidding.  Even over the past couple of days, I’ve seen several referrals to my blog from Google with someone searching for “How to lose 20 pounds in one week”.

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IT CANNOT BE DONE…

There are no shortcuts or miracles.

…at least not in a healthy way.  Folks, there are no miracle diet pills, no magic machines, gadgets, new fangled fad diet or or other shortcuts.  If you want to lose the weight permanently, you have to make permanent lifestyle changes.

The only way to lose a lot of weight that fast is:

a. surgery
b. dehydration
c. saw off your leg at the hip

None of these are healthy or permanent (except for the leg sawing).  I’ve met PLENTY of people who have had lipo only to gain it all back and more.  You don’t need surgery to be successful!  And that goes for fad diets too.  For those of you that feel that Atkins (or some other fad diet) is the quick fix, I challenge anyone that has successfully lost weight on it (AND KEPT IT OFF) to step up.  I also challenge anyone currently on the Atkins diet to a cholesterol screening challenge.  Not only will I go up against you and your numbers, I’ll do it WITHOUT fasting.  ;-)  That’s not just bragging, it’s my way of saying that you have to do it right to be healthy.

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When most folks refer to a diet, they are referring to something temporary.  Heck, most of the diets you hear about on TV and from your friends are not something that you could successfully maintain long term anyhow.  If you go on a diet, no matter what type (most of them restrict food in some form or fashion) and successfully lose weight, what do you think is going to happen when you return to your old eating habits?  Yep, gain it all back.  After all, it is your unhealthy eating (and lack of exercise) that got you in the problem in the first place.

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As an example, I spend the bulk of my year eating as cleanly and as healthy as I can as it is during my racing season.  I have a target weight that I try to maintain.   It’s where I am my fastest.  But trying to maintain my target weight is hard and it takes a lot of work, persistence and consistency.  Yes, there are times that I stumble, sometimes I give in, sometimes I have limited options (at company events), etc.  I also splurge from time to time, but always in moderation.  However, I make the best effort that I can (and folks around me can attest) and if my weight fluctuates a little, I don’t freak out.

During the holidays, it just happens to coincide with my off-season from racing.  I know going into it that during this timeframe that I will gain a little weight.  This is because I am exercising a lot less (not training for races) and I am relaxing my eating habits for family events.  You see, because I have made a temporary change, I will see changes.  In order to get back to what I call racing weight, I have to change back to the eating and exercising that I do during the rest of the year.  With the exception of the short amount of time I step away during the holidays, my eating habits stay the same all year long (as does my amount of exercise).  It’s what helped me take off the weight back in 2003 and keep it off for the past 12 years.

So, if you want the weight loss to be permanent.  You have to make changes to your eating habits that are permanent.  These changes need to be sustainable and most fad diets aren’t.

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In order to lose the weight, do it in a healthy manner, and keep it off, you have to:

  • Exercise (both cardio and strength)(more coming)
  • Eat healthy foods (more on this in other posts)
  • Plan on losing 1-2 pounds/week

Folks, I’ll say it again, If you want to permanently change the way you look and feel, you have to permanently change the way you live.  There are no shortcuts.  BUT, I’ll add that it is FAR from impossible.  YOU CAN DO IT.  If I can, anyone can.

See you tomorrow for tip number 6!

Marcus

About: 10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days is designed for me to share my experiences with you to help you lose weight (if necessary), get into shape and improve your fitness (always necessary).  I am, by no means, an expert, nutritionist, or doctor.  Instead, I am simply another normal person, such as yourself, that didn’t want to figure it out with trial/error on my own.  Instead, I gathered great information from successful athletes, coaches and other professionals.  Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or making any changes to your diet.

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