Nowadays it is not uncommon to find novices, and beginners of all ages starting their fitness pursuits with a great deal of education. For the first time in all of human history, the World Wide Web has provided a luxury our grandfathers could have only dreamed of. Information. Knowledge. Resources. When utilized, these are the tools that help make us capable of truly anything we desire. The Internet has closed the information gap… it has been the great equalizer for millions all over the world. However, more information can sometimes bring more confusion. How do you know what works and what doesn’t?! The answer is TRY it, or talk to someone you trust who’s already been down the path you’re looking to walk.
Over the past several years, I’ve done plenty of the searching, trying, and asking. Through it all, I’ve finally found what I call, ‘My rapid-fire tips to help you achieve your fitness life goals this year’. Let’s get started, shall we…
1) Find a coach/mentor – Look for someone who’s already done it. No matter what you’re pursuing, your chances of achieving it with increase dramatically with an experienced advisor in your corner.
2) Plan ahead (carry food with you) – Most people are unwilling to make this ‘sacrifice’, and put forth the extra effort it takes to plan. The thing is, it really doesn’t take much. Just get started, and make sure you have some quality food with you so you’re not skipping meals (and slowing your metabolism).
3) Drink more water (don’t drink calories) – I’ve always remembered this quote “Nothing is more anabolic than a well-hydrated muscle” I believe this is true. Sufficient water consumption is the most underrated addition to your muscle building and fat loss goals in my opinion. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help curb hunger and stop sugar cravings. Ensuring your muscles are hydrated will also protect you from injury by keeping your joints healthy and lubricated… I like to carry a Nalgene ‘everyday’ reusable 1L bottle with me to class and work (Also helps save money and the Earth ☺)
4) Supplement with Psyllium seed husk – If I could recommend one supplement you may not have heard of, this would be it. The way we feel is greatly influenced by what’s going on with our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Psyllium seed husk is a partially fermented fiber supplement that promotes intestinal health, regularity, lowers cholesterol, and prevents various cancers associated with the GI tract. If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, you may not be getting enough fiber in your diet as it is. Adding twelve grams a day to your shakes and smoothies is an excellent way to ensure you’re consuming enough fiber for healthy digestion and elimination.
5) Grab some Stevia (limit/cut out added sugar) – Stevia leaf powder is another excellent addition to your supplement drawer. This sweetener is a herb that tastes great on oatmeal, in coffee, smoothies, protein shakes (w/cinnamon), and anywhere you’d normally use sugar. If you like sweet foods, you can potentially save hundreds of empty calories per week.
6) Turn off the TV (watch TED Talks) – This Christmas I finally had some down time to take a load off and do ‘nothing’ for a change. I decided to turn on the television to see what I’ve been missing. Turns out, I wasn’t missing much because nowadays, ‘TV is nothing but an income and potential sucker”. I have to agree on this one. Unless there’s something specific you have to catch, I recommend you do all you can to cut out as much television as possible. When I turned it off, I instantly thought about all the positive, constructive things I could have done with my time. A few years ago, I discovered these short videos where brilliant people would share their ideas at a conference of all the best minds in their respective fields. “TED talks” on TED.com are an excellent alternative to the tube. If you want, try and watch at least one new talk every day… they’re short, and you’ll learn something interesting and valuable.
7) Change positions (…not what you think!) – I mean, if you spend a lot of time in front of the computer, at a desk, or doing a lot of sedentary work… hear this: You can increase your focus through movement, and keep your back healthy by increasing the diffusion of nutrients into the vertebral discs. In other words, it can be said that decreased physical activity is directly proportional to back pain. Get up, get your blood flowing every twenty-five minutes or so to refresh your body and mind.
8) Make nutrition easy, and your exercises hard – The most drastic changes I’ve seen in people usually comes from changes in their diet. This is the main component you want to control in your quest to building a better body. However, taking control of your nutrition habits does not have to be difficult. Choose which food sources you like best, and plan your meals ahead of time in order to reach your specific goals. But what about training…? Of course, we know doing serious work in the gym is critical if you you’re expecting to see any progress. I’ve always found that the harder you can make an exercise, the greater overall effect it will have on your physique. For instance, instead of doing your shoulder presses sitting on a machine… stand up and grab a barbell. This will immediately involve new muscle groups by simultaneously forcing you to maintain your balance during the entire movement. Greater efficiency, effectiveness, and growth… what more could you ask for?!
9) Set realistic, short-term goals – Too many people quickly get discouraged on their road to improvement. Most of the time, this is because they’re not seeing immediate changes. The key is to be persistent, and patient. A great way to ensure you’re successful, while keeping your motivation high is to set small goals along the way towards your ‘ultimate vision’. Eventually, doing the right things one day at a time will produce amazing results you can truly be proud of.
10) Stand guard at the door of your mind – There have been countless successful people who’ve written books, recorded audiotapes, and put out videos you can utilize and apply in your own life. Spend your free time listening, reading, and searching for the resources that can empower you. Luckily you usually have a choice, it’s all up to you. Make sure you spend most of your time absorbing materials that can bring new ideas and move you forward.
11) Push yourself to the max – When you challenge yourself, then succeed-- you create a new set of positive references; your confidence goes up, you learn what you’re capable of, and other difficult tasks of the past become very possible. You can tap into these empowering references any time you want simply by deciding to. The more you force yourself to step outside your comfort zone, the greater your potential for growth and improvement will be. You only have one life, so challenge yourself and go for what you want no matter what anyone else says.
12) Be grateful – Here (in America) most of us take a lot for granted. The fact that we even have the ability to pursue our fitness aspirations is amazing. The ability to build and sculpt your body and mind is a huge privilege we share. When you consider the fact that three billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, we gym goers have it pretty darn good. Start your day thinking of a few things you’re grateful for. Only then can you really tap into your potential and have a fulfilling year.
Conclusion: Through all the searching and trying, I’ve found several great benefits from implementing these ‘top tips’. The Internet is a powerful resource… use the information that’s been proven to work… but also makes sense to you.
Remember, success is simply doing little things the right way, one day at a time!
Written by - Connor LaVallie
They say that the 5 people you surround yourself with most will ultimately decide where you go with your life. I am sure you have noticed that when you are in a gym you see that the people with the best physiques or the ones with the most motivation are with like people. The same can apply to the business world; successful people are usually surrounded by other successful people. Think about it, if you’re hanging out with people that are out of shape, lack ambition and motivation you’re likely to be on the same path they are on. What’s worse is when you try and separate yourself from that lifestyle and those types of people, they will do what they can to detour you from your goals and try and hold you back. You will be met with negative comments, and they will try and put doubt in your head; don’t allow this. They see the changes you are making and that can incite fear in them that they too will have to make change to be accepted. If you want to be your best, surround yourself with the best and all the positivity you can.
Don’t let yourself get intimidated by anyone else in the gym. Realize that everyone there is trying to do the same thing; better themselves. The path to increase one’s performance and overall health can be harder for some than it is for others. This is a journey that we all share, our destinations may be different but we are on the same path to betterment. Whether you are a beginner or advanced; go in each day and do the best YOU can do and leave the intimidation factor at the door. Everyone starts at the beginning and nobody knows it all, so don’t let someone’s knowledge or their physical condition detour you from becoming a better you. If you are a beginner, look to the advanced as inspiration. Ask questions; get advice, ask for a periodic spot and continue to educate yourself. These people were once where you are at, and got to where they are doing the same things.
Time and time again I hear people say someone told them that they can’t achieve something. CANT is a word that needs to be eliminated from your vocabulary. Not only does it bring you down, but it also brings the people around you down. The only person that can tell you that you can’t is you, and the best thing about that is you don’t have to listen. People that are incapable or just too lazy to do what it is that you’re trying to achieve will rebel and tell you that you can’t. They will make you doubt yourself, and make you think that your goals/dreams are not achievable, so you give up. Instead use this negativity as fuel and prove these people and even yourself wrong. With each thing you achieve that you thought you previously couldn’t, you will gain confidence that you can in fact achieve whatever you want in life. If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves. So don’t let others judge you; by them telling you that you can’t, that is exactly what they are doing-judging you. Speak with your actions; and show them and yourself your true capabilities, and in the end your greatness will silence them all.
When you have a purpose/ game plan set you have a much better chance in achieving what you want than if you didn’t have one. If you go into a gym with no drive, purpose, or motivational factor to drive you in most cases you will fail. The gym can become a scary place and you find yourself wandering around like a zombie with no specific destination or routine. You don’t see any results so you start to doubt everything that you are doing and eventually quit. To be successful and to eliminate this doubt; set goals, and I advise you to write them down. If you only have goals in your head they can change day to day based on your energy level and your mood. When you write your goals down they are concrete, you can hold them, and they are right in front of you rather than floating around in your head somewhere. As you achieve these goals check them off, they will be a reminder of your success and give you that drive you need to continue on your fitness journey. As you achieve your goals continue to set more. Set present, short term, and long term goals. If you’re only looking at the destination and don’t focus on the journey itself, the end goal will seem unattainable and you can become overwhelmed and doubt will emerge and take over. Take joy in your small victories, they build on one another until you reach your destination.
This is one that I have heard over and over and mostly from women. “I am afraid if I weight train I will get big and bulky”. It’s important to realize that the amount of muscle a woman can put on is limited by a number of factors. First, women don’t have the testosterone needed to build a lot of muscle, so if you switch over from the light weights which I like to call “pink weight syndrome” or start to strength train, you are in no danger of losing your neck and building quads so big you bust out of your jeans. Many women coming to strength training are eating at a deficit for fat loss, so they won’t be building much, if any, new muscle—the goal of strength training while eating at a deficit is to retain the muscle mass you already have and skew the percentage of weight loss towards fat and away from muscle. The fact is: “Looking like a bodybuilder” doesn’t happen accidentally. To look like or be a bodybuilder, especially for women, requires a phenomenal lifestyle commitment. So don’t be afraid to use weights, and if you are lifting don’t be afraid to go heavier. If strength training causes a female to look like a bodybuilder that would equate to me saying “I don’t want to swim laps today because I don’t want to win the 100m gold next week” and that my friends is not going to happen without an act of God and a boat motor on my back.
For guys you do have the testosterone needed to gain muscle mass, so you will have a much easier time developing size. If you don’t want to get bulky, your diet and supplementation will determine this. If you are lifting heavy all the time, expect to gain some muscle if you diet is geared towards weight gain. Simply put, if you watch your protein, carbs, and fat ingestion then you can manipulate your diet to keep your mass down. If you want to keep lean and still lift heavy keep your cardio up, keep your protein and carbs at a moderate range so that you maintain lean muscle as you drop body fat. So you will transition muscle and fat more than you will bulk up.
Written by: Brandan Fokken
Bodybuilding.com Sponsored Athlete