By: Matt Weik
When trying to turn poor habits into healthy ones, we often end up falling back into some of those unhealthy choices. Health and fitness is a lifelong journey. There will be ups and downs and your will is going to be tested. Here’s 10 health and fitness tips that you can apply to help keep you heading in the right direction.
1 – Change is good
Sometimes the best thing you can do with your exercise routine is to change it up. I’m talking completely. Change up your rep range, change up the sets, change the exercises—heck, even change up your music. Start fresh with something new and exciting. The key is to prevent yourself from hitting a point where things get stale and you become bored with your routine. Generally, at that point is where people start to fall off the wagon. Don’t let that be you. Simply change up what you’re doing so you remain excited to go hit your workout each day.
2 – Snacking is ok
If you find you are hungry throughout the day, there’s nothing wrong with having a snack. The problem arises when you choose the wrong items or you resist the urge to eat and then gorge during your next scheduled meal. Having something like a handful of nuts or an apple with peanut butter is a healthy choice when you need a quick bite to eat in the middle of the day. Some other options could be Greek yogurt, a protein bar, beef jerky, or even some vegetables like broccoli or carrots with some hummus. Snacking doesn’t necessarily have to have a bad connotation, it simply comes down to the items you choose.
3 – Stop going through the motions
Are you the type of person who goes to the gym every day and goes through the motions and never feels like they are seeing any results? Well, you’re probably right. Stop going through the motions and focus on what you are doing. When resistance training, you want to be able to feel the muscle contracting and elongating. If not, you’re likely using a weight that is too heavy for you and you are using other muscle groups to assist in the motion. Drop the weight and try again. Really focus on squeezing and feeling the muscle working to move the weight. Going through the motions without concentrating on the muscle contraction is a great way to waste time—something no one wants to do. So, stop wasting your valuable time in the gym if you’re already making the effort to be there and focus on each rep to give you the best chance possible to reach your health and fitness goals.
4 – You focus too much on ideas
Everyone has ideas in their head of what they want to look like. Unfortunately, not many people are willing to put in the work to achieve that “look”. What I’m about to tell you can carry over into everything in your life, not just your health and fitness goals, but also your business and life in general. It’s all about execution. You need to stop brainstorming ideas, instead find ways to execute! Put things in motion. If you simply come up with a bunch of ideas on how to achieve something such as weight loss, at the end of the day what do you have? A bunch of ideas. If you want to make change and reach your goals in life, you need to start executing. Winners do what losers refuse to. Start acting immediately.
5 – Take a class
Finding yourself in a slump at the gym? Try a class. There’s nothing wrong with utilizing a different technique to help you progress towards your goals. Sometimes the best thing to happen to you is when you step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Take a spin class, or maybe even a kickboxing or Pilates class. Utilizing different training methods can get you out of the slump you felt like you were in as well as putting your gym membership to better use.
6 – Don’t let the white stuff keep you indoors
Just because there’s snow on the ground during the cold wintery months doesn’t mean you can’t go out and run if that is what you enjoy doing. They key to not slipping and falling on your butt is to take shorter strides so that each time you take a stride your foot ends up beneath the center of your weight versus ahead of it. Now, this isn’t a full-proof way to ensure you won’t slip at all, this method simply allows you to get out and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re a little skittish about running in the snow, pick up some snowshoes and go for a trek around your neighborhood. The snowshoes will allow you to better stay on top of the snow rather than sinking down into it.
7 – Progression is key
Just because you might not be strong enough to complete a pull-up right now doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. In fact, there’s a simple technique that you can use to help build up enough strength to eventually pull yourself up to the bar. What you need to do is head over to the pull-up bar and simply hang on it. No need to attempt pulling yourself up. For this technique, all you are doing is hanging there for as long as you can. This will help build up your upper body strength. After a few weeks of doing this, give it a try and see if you can complete a full rep of a pull-up. If not, keep working on holding yourself on the bar and hanging there.
You can even do partial repetitions if you wanted to. Here, you will pull yourself up as far as you can before slowly lowering back down. Keep doing this for as many reps as you can before fatiguing and dropping down from the bar.
The last way to improve your pull-up is to complete the eccentric portion of the movement—or the lowering portion of the pull-up. For this, either use a chair for assistance or a friend and pull yourself up until your chin is at the bar. Then, slowly lower yourself down to a dead hang. Once hanging, use the assistance once again to get your chin back up to the bar and repeat the process. After a few weeks, you should have built up enough strength to complete a full range of motion pull-up on your own.
8 – Stop with the yo-yo diets
Have you ever found a diet that had a bunch of hype around it that worked for you? No? Well, there’s a reason for that—they don’t work! Stop using them. What’s the one thing they all pretty much have in common? They all focus on eating less calories than you need for maintenance. For that reason, just look at focusing on that aspect of your nutrition. Start counting your calories and macronutrients by writing them down or using a smartphone app such as MyFitnessPal. This is a great way to see how many calories you are consuming every day to ensure you are progressing towards your weight loss goals—no fad diets required.
9 – Compete against yourself, not others
Who cares if the guy or gal next to you is lifting more than you? Do you get a trophy for who lifts the most in your gym during rush hour? No? Then who cares? Focus on bettering yourself and competing against yourself. If you want some friendly competition, track your workouts so you know what weight you used, how many reps you completed, as well as how many overall sets. Then, when you go to repeat the workout, try to improve upon your previous workout. Push for more reps or more sets. You could even up the weight a little. No matter how you choose to compete against yourself, have fun with it.
10 – Use a natural pre-workout source
Today’s supplement industry is loaded with so many pre-workouts that it’s exhausting just trying to figure out what to use. But, if you’re in the market for something that isn’t full of stimulants, then you should consider peppermint. No, not the Peppermint Patties, but rather peppermint oil. It has been shown that if you take 0.05mL of peppermint oil and put it into two cups of water and consume that prior to exercise, it can help improve your performance in the gym. Specifically, your oxygen intake, power, stamina, and pain tolerance. All things that can help keep you moving in the right direction.
And be sure to check out the IML Research Blog for more great insight from around the world of health & fitness!