If you’re just getting back into shape, I can guarantee you that you can find someone who says you’re doing it wrong….or not enough….or too much. I get lost in all the headlines, “studies” and “research” and I’ve been in the industry going on 15 years so I can’t imagine what it is like for someone who is new or just coming back to getting healthy and working out trying to keep up with all of the latest.
With the influx of new clients that come every winter season in the fitness industry, I usually find myself answering the same questions every year. Lately though, with the growing amount of bad information out there from social media, un-informed newscasters trying to support a headline and the myriad of “insta”-trainers spewing out whatever they need to to make the sale or grab some more followers, has brought the level of confounding questions to a whole new level of face palm.
So I have compiled a list of statements that will hopefully help clear the muddied waters of searching the internet for reliable fitness/health/nutrition information?
#1- There is no end all, be all diet plan. They all work for some people. They all have pros/cons. They all affect the body in different ways. If you’re a person who enjoys eating carbs then it wouldn’t be wise to attempt the Keto or Atkins diets. You will fail. If you like eating anything that has been invented since the caveman days, you should probably avoid going Paleo. I’m not even going to get started on the HCG diet because anyone who pushed, advocated or sold that diet should be very, very ashamed of themselves.
The best ways to attack making nutritional changes, in my opinion, is one step at a time. Find your vices (soda, sweets, alcohol) whatever it may be, and reduce it by half. If you have 2 beers every night after work, cut that down to 1 beer three of the nights. Then next week make it one beer every night along with a glass of water. That’s an easy way to eliminate 300 calories a week and over 1200 calories per month while increasing your water intake! (I’m not condemning drinking, I LOVE me some Crown Royal but you have to be smart about it, not everyday and never too many in one night)
The next step is working on getting more fruits and vegetables in and increasing your daily water intake. The problem with diets are they expect you to change everything….all at once. If you go paleo, say goodbye to your cakes, cookies, ice cream. If you’re going Keto then kiss your breads, pastas, beers and even pizza goodbye. (Don’t talk to me about “pizza” made with a cauliflower crust….that ain’t pizza!) . The more sustainable approach is to change one thing and make a habit out of it. The problem is social media showing nothing but “transformations” of people who lost a lot and lost it quick. I could do this to my clients as well but I don’t feel right about taking money from people and teaching them how to “transform” when I know in the long run they have a 76% chance of rebounding to an even worse situation that what they started out in.
#2- Be Active!
As with nutrition plans, there is no “one workout to conquer all workouts.” Some of you will love Crossfit, some love yoga, some love to lift weights, some of you like hiking….and all of those mean you’re getting off the couch, unglued from your electronics and getting yourself moving! Is one better than the other? No. The best workout is the one that you will actually DO! Whatever that ends up being, you’ve got to make it part of your priorities. That being said, this ride we call the fitness life will always and I mean ALWAYS have its peaks and valleys. You will be great for a month and then you will have an off week or a vacation where the workouts just don’t happen…..and that’s ok! As long as you get back on the horse the next week, you’re going to be just fine. NO ONE has a 6 pack year round and if they do, they are genetic lottery winners…or they’re cheating. The key is not taking so long of a break that the “rest days” become the norm and the pounds come creeping back on.
#3- Supplement are just that….SUPPLEMENTS!
Supplements get sold as the “key to losing 30 lbs in 30 days”…..and its total crap. Supplements are by definition supplemental — meaning they’re not essential but they can help. There are so many versions of supplements that the market is flooded with “pre-workout” “intraworkout” “post workout” blah blah blah.
The real question is, what do they actually do for you and will it ACTUALLY make a difference in your progress? Well you’ve heard the saying about the results you see are 80% nutrition and 20% workouts….well supplements can squeeze out an extra 1–2% of results if you use them correctly, you’re nutrition is dialed in and you stay consistent with the workouts. If not, you’re literally just flushing money down the drain.
In total transparency, I take pre-workout supplements and the occasional protein shake. The protein shakes help me hit my protein goals for the day so I don’t whittle my lean mass down to the bean pole I used to be. The pre-workout is an indulgence. I like the energy rush from the caffeine, the “pump’ from the citrulline and the tingling feeling from the beta alanine…but do I get more from my workout because of it, not really. It can motivate to workout on days I’m not really feeling like doing anything but it’s the workout burning the fat and building the muscle, not the supplements. You can take them, but do your homework and don’t expect a miracle.
Bottom line: Can they help? Yes. Are they going to make all the difference in the world? NO. That is made by not eating a bunch of calorie dense crap!
#4- Paying for a program or trainer doesn’t equal automatic change.
A personal trainer isn’t a genie or a magician. Dropping some cash doesn’t automatically mean you will change your habits or actually lose weight. Surprisingly, it’s going to take a little bit of work and discipline on your end…disappointing, I know.
I’ve actually had clients say to me “well I spent $$$ on this and I was hoping for better results.” all the while looking at me like I didn’t just spend the last two months teaching them everything they needed to know to change…..only they didn’t do it.
The bottom line is this, if you’re doing SOMETHING, then you’re doing it right. There will always be someone out there telling you that you should be doing this or should be doing that but don’t let them get to you. Be Active. Get Moving. Be Consistent! The results will come. I promise!