Fitness is a word thrown around a lot that covers a lot of things and activities. For the purpose of this article, fitness is the condition of being physically fit and healthy.
Since fitness is something you have to work for to obtain and maintain, it takes changing your lifestyle.
It’s a Lifestyle
It is important to take charge of every aspect of your life in order to achieve fitness. Changing what you eat and your activity levels will be the most difficult thing for you do to.
When deciding to change your lifestyle, posting your news and updates on social networks will be a daily activity and I would like to offer some advice. When posting on your social networks, take care to be positive and inspiring to others.
Putting down other people’s less-than-healthy lifestyle choices, complaining about your sacrifices, or spamming everyone’s wall with pictures of your meals and workouts is not going to be received very well. Instead of using a negative tone in your posts, uplift and inspire others to get healthier.
Having a positive mental attitude and changing the way you look at life will be very beneficial to your progress and will help you achieve your goals no matter how many road blocks you come across.
The first thing I want to talk about here is your diet. Your diet is the kind of food that a person habitually eats. When you think ‘diet’ don’t think about restriction, think about changing what you habitually eat.
Your diet is extremely important to achieving your goals. You cannot out train a shitty diet.
There are so many myths about food and diet. I would like to address some of the most popular and possibly the most detrimental to your health.
Eggs Are Unhealthy
- Eating whole eggs is very healthy. The fats and cholesterol in the eggs are healthy and actually lower your bad cholesterol. Eggs are a complete package packed with nutrition. Eat eggs regularly.
Low-Fat Is Better For You
- Eating heavily processed foods may not be the most healthy choice you can make. If a food naturally has fat in it, what chemicals do you think they had to add to make the same product sans-fat?
No Eating After 6pm
- I understand where this myth can come from; you eat and then go sedentary and then go to sleep. Just because you go to sleep after you eat a meal does not mean your body is not processing the food. What happens if you are active during the day and only get to have a couple of snacks or small meals, when you get home and sit down do you just stop burning all calories at all? I know many lean bodybuilders that have gone so far as to waking up to drink a protein shake in the middle of the night to keep their metabolism going and keep from going catabolic.
Certain Foods Burn Fat
- Grapefruit and green tea are popular in this category of “fat burning foods.” While there is no physical evidence that these foods will burn fat, the fiber and terrible taste of a grapefruit can kill an appetite. Green tea has properties that stimulate the nervous system and can raise body temperature slightly which can be beneficial for fat burning. Simply eating these foods will not burn fat.
Carbs Are Horrible
- Carbohydrates caught a bad name. Carbohydrates are easy to burn sources of energy that your body can burn rapidly for athletic performance. Foods that are carb dense are usually calorie dense and most likely taste good which leads to over-eating. Most sugary foods and drinks have a lot of carbs in them which leads to believe carbs are bad. Eating brown rice or some bread with your meal won’t make you fat, eating a whole cake and drinking a 2 liter of mountain dew a day will.
Fats Are Horrible
- “Eating fats make you fat.” This is a very popular myth that food companies capitalize on by making unhealthy low-fat alternatives. Fats are good for you because they help your body regulate hormones. Ask your great-grandmother who is pushing 90 what foods she ate when she was younger. I’m betting lard, whole milk, bacon, eggs, and beef will be among the foods they mention. Let that one sink in for a minute.
Don’t Eat Too Much Protein
- “The body can only process 30 grams of protein in one sitting.” “Eating too much meat is bad on the kidneys.” If you have a pre-existing kidney problem, eating too much meat can cause kidney issues. If you have healthy kidneys, eating meat is not going to ruin your kidneys like slamming a 12 pack of beer does to your liver. Protein is the building block for most things in your body so be wise and get your protein in.
Basal Metabolic Rate
Your basal metabolic rate is how many calories you burn daily. Knowing your BMR is important if you want to lose weight or build muscle.
This BMR calculator will give you an approximate amount of calories that you burn. You will have to experiment with how many calories you consume to see how many calories it takes to lose weight. This will give you a great starting point.
Once you get your BMR from the calculator, write it down and apply the Harris-Benedict Formula to it.
- If you are sedentary with little to no exercise: Multiply your BMR by 1.2.
- If you are lightly active and participate in light exercise and sports 1-3 days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.375.
- If you are moderately active and participate in moderate exercise or sports 3-5 times a week, multiply your BMR by 1.55.
- If you are very active and participate in hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.725.
- Lastly, if you are extra active with a physically demanding job and train very hard possibly twice a day every day, multiply your BMR by 1.9
Example: If your BMR is 2700 calories and you train 3 days a week with a sedentary office job, I would say you are lightly active and you would multiply 2700 x 1.375 which would mean the number of calories needed to maintain your weight would be 3712 calories.
It’s best to underestimate your activity levels than it is overestimate. You are going to slow progress and it will take longer to find that sweet spot. Remember that the number you get is a good estimate, it will take some experimentation.
Calories In VS Calories Out
How many calories you eat determines if you lose weight or gain weight. The basic idea here is if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight.
Types of Foods to Eat
Your diet should consist mostly of whole healthy foods that you have to cook yourself. Shopping on the perimeter of the store usually is going to give you the healthiest foods. Think fresh.
If you do not know how to cook, I would advise you start learning. It is the single most important skill I think everyone should have.
There’s a rule a friend introduced to me that I find works well for anyone. The 80/20 rule is you eat 80% of your calories during the day with healthy whole foods and the other 20% you can eat whatever you want.
If you were to take the example of 3712 calories from above, 2970 calories would be from your fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, pasta, etc. The other 742 calories can be from anything you like.
This means you can eat 742 calories of ice cream or having a bag of chips to complete the rest of your calories.
What is Cutting and Bulking?
The term cutting is used for cutting weight. Most people use the term cutting to talk about weight loss in general while athletes talk about cutting weight for a meet.
Usually the athlete cuts are more about dehydration and cutting out foods to almost starve yourself down to weight. Cutting in this regard takes careful planning and knowledge to make weight and keep as much strength as possible.
When bulking, you are purposely eating more calories than you burn so you use the extra food for recovery and muscle-building. Depending how many calories you eat over how many you burn, you can add a substantial bit of fat. This is called “dirty bulking” and has created a lot of unhappy people who do not bulk correctly.
It’s cliché’ but I need to say it: Drink your water. Simply drinking water won’t make you lose weight, but staying hydrated is good for your body and mind.
There are too many people who drink only sodas and other sugary drinks and don’t understand how they can eat a salad for every meal and still gain weight. Drinking beverages that have calories is one of the easiest ways to take in more calories than you had intended.
When you sweat you lose electrolytes, water, and other nutrients. Drinking water and other sports drinks can help replenish what you’ve sweat out. Once again, check your calorie intake.
Recovery is what builds muscles and makes you stronger. Without proper recovery, you are going to find your performance stalling.
- Eating enough food is the first thing you need to make sure you’re doing. Don’t starve yourself if you are trying to lose weight, your performance in the gym will go south in a hurry and you will start losing all of the muscle you’ve worked so hard to build.
- Sleeping is the most important recovery tool you have. When you sleep, your body shuts down other functions of the body and spends its energy repairing and building muscles, strengthening your immune system, and repairing any injuries or sprains you may have.
I am a fan of supplements but I am also realistic; the supplement industry wants you to think you have to use supplements to achieve the body you want. This is false.
You do not need any supplement, but here are some supplements I think may be useful to anyone:
Branched Chain Amino Acids
BCAAs are a great supplement to have around the house because of the amino acids and flavors. The amino acids in these supplements are already in your body but drinking more won’t hurt.
The biggest reason I suggest BCAAs is because every brand so far I’ve had taste great. These are healthy drinks that taste good that you can have instead of plain old water all of the time.
Protein shakes are never a bad thing to have around the house. They are a quick small meal and most have plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other BCAAs in them. There are plenty of different brands and plenty of different flavors.
I recommend trying a few different brands and trying to get samples to see what you like and do not like.
Unless you eat a well-rounded diet, you are probably deficient in some vitamin. There are plenty out there, find one you like and stick with it.
Pre-workouts are great for that extra kick in the pants to make your workout better. I use them but I do not rely on them. They are expensive and you eventually build a tolerance to them, which may lead to abusing them.
A couple of cups of coffee is as good of a pre-workout as anything is.
Training is important to build an athletic, lean, and healthy body. You don’t have to squat 800 pounds to be strong, but you will have to push your body to its limit if you want to progress and reach your goals.
Weight training is extremely important to build muscle and increase your physical abilities. Learn how to do exercises properly and find a great workout to stick to.
If you are in a sport, find what type of training works best. If you are a sprinter or a runner, there will be certain power moves that you will need to complete as well as mobility and agility training.
Train for your sport. If you are not in a sport and don’t plan on being in a sport, simply using a workout routine and progressing will work well.
Cardio, conditioning, physical activity, or hell. Whatever you want to call keeping your heart rate elevated while being active, it is important for a healthy heart and living a better life.
If you’ve ever caught yourself out of breath after a flight of stairs or being winded while simply walking and trying to talk, your conditioning is poor. The good news is that improving your conditioning is simple, but it takes a lot of hard work.
Before asking what the optimal exercise and heart rate is, ask yourself “What would I enjoy?”
What good is going to a gym to trudge along a stair master or treadmill if you hate every minute of it? What if you enjoy riding bicycles or hiking, why would you not do those activities? Open your mind up to activities; the gym is not the only place you go to be in shape.
If you’ve made it here you’ve probably read some things you already knew, and learned some things as well. Becoming fit and enjoying life is important. You do not have to be the ideal body fat percent or weigh a certain amount to be considered fit and you certainly don’t have to look like the professional athletes of today.
The point I’m trying to make here in this article is that simply making smarter choices for yourself, eating healthier, and getting more physical activity will greatly increase your quality of life.
Leave any comments or questions below!