Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gaining Muscle Or Fat – What’s Your Choice?

Gaining muscle is good!  Gaining fat is not!  

Did you know that, from about age 30, we start to lose muscle if we don’t work out on a regular basis?  In this instance, the saying, “use it or lose it” is so true.  And, when we lose muscle it becomes harder to do just about anything.  Hence the feeling of energy loss.  It takes more energy to do the simple tasks because we don’t have the muscle we once had.  When we lose muscle, our joints now take on more load to hold us up than they should.
When we lose muscle our metabolism also slows down dramatically.

A slowdown in our metabolism means that we need fewer calories to keep going.  How many of us eat less because we are over 30 or because we’ve stopped working out regularly?  It’s not reality, is it?  So, as a result of our slower metabolism, we start to store more body fat because we’re still eating too much!  Think about this - one pound of fat uses up 3 calories, but one pound of muscle eats up 35 calories at rest!  So the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn.  Even while you are sleeping – you are burning more calories than ever before!

What really hurts, is the body is a machine, literally, that works best when moving.  Ideally, it should be several times a day, but at least 2 to 3 times a week.  And, when we don’t work the body, it’s not just the muscles that are affected.  Your inner functions (your digestion and brain) are off balance as well.  What tends to happen, because we don’t move, is that we miss the feeling of euphoria that comes with building muscle and working the heart.  So, we turn to food for that good feeling.  What feeds that feeling?  Sugar and fat!  Yup, I’m talking about white sugar and too much fat.  Yes, it’s true, we all need fat - but not that much!  And, NO ONE needs white sugar!  It causes our bodies to store more fat!

The best way to lose fat and gain muscle is an effective exercise program combined with a healthy nutrition plan.  But, don’t think of it as a temporary (“just until I lose a few pounds”) diet and fitness plan.  To be truly effective, it must be a lifestyle choice.

So, now, what choice will you make - muscle or fat?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Personal Trainer vs DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Workout Programs

Personal training is one-on-one instruction that incorporates goal setting, with fitness and health education, into challenging workouts developed specifically for each individual's needs.  Personal training programs are for those individuals who want to be active and fit, sculpt or tone their physique, or lose excess body fat, but would prefer the more personal one-on-one attention.

A Personal Trainer is just that, someone who gets personal with you.  They are there to not only celebrate your achievements but to also help carry you through your tough times.  They will understand when you need that encouragement with a soft touch or when you need a push with more of a “tough love” approach that only they can give during those times when you get disillusioned or complacent.

A good Personal Trainer will do an assessment of your current level of fitness and body composition (including girth measurements, body fat and BMI testing), review your goals, and then create an individually tailored program to help you achieve those goals safely and effectively. Your Personal Trainer will be there to provide instruction and assist you to perform various exercises.  They will manage you and your program, monitor your technique and motivate you to give 100% in every workout.  They will provide a personal touch to a totally safe and supportive training environment for you.  If you follow what they give you, you should succeed in your quest to be healthier and fitter while reaching and even surpassing your goals!

You can hire a Personal Trainer to work with you for each and every workout, once or twice a week or even a once monthly visit.  It all depends on what you need and your Personal Trainer will be able to offer suggestions for you.

On a final note, it is very difficult to “blow off" a workout when you know your Trainer is waiting for you.  That, in itself, gets more of a commitment from you and in the end, it’s all about that consistency and commitment, isn’t it?

On the other hand, a DIY (do-it-yourself) program is completely different.  DIY is just what the name implies – a program that you figure out (and utilize) all on your own.  Usually, this is done without the benefit of up-to-date knowledge of what is considered safe and/or effective.  Never mind whether you head into the gym and get shown the equipment, or head out onto the streets or trails on your own again, it doesn’t necessarily mean your great intentions are going to work for you.  You see, it is so easy to become injured because, without the benefit of some knowledgeable assistance, what you may be doing is setting yourself up for muscle imbalances.  Muscles imbalances are one of the top reasons why people get injured.  So you’ll just get into your training regime only to have to quit because you are injured.
Another common reason for injury is you feel “I’ve put off getting fit long enough!” and you head into the gym or onto that trail with all your gusto!  You are to be applauded for your enthusiasm, but alas, “too much, too soon, too fast, too far” gets a lot of people sidelined quickly because now they are nursing an injury. 

When working on your own, sometimes you don’t have the knowledge to accomplish what it is you want in the long run.  Is it to gain more muscle?  Is it for a specific sport?  Do you want to tone up, lose body fat or excess weight?  Or, all of the above?  One of the top reasons people quit their DIY training regimes is because they are frustrated with their results. 

And, when working out by yourself, you often spend too much time doing too little.  I don’t mean you don’t work hard!  What I mean is you will usually work muscles individually.  A personal trainer can get you to do compound exercises that work multiple muscles.  These exercises are great for people who want an effective workout in half the time!

It's estimated that over 90% of DIY workout strategies often don’t last longer than 3 to 4 months.  People end up frustrated or, worse yet as mentioned above, get injured.  Those results just create intense negative feelings about working out that play with your mind too.  You create self-sabotage methods, or feel it’s all an uphill battle that you cannot win.
Finding a personal trainer could take some time.  You may need to interview a few to make sure you are both compatible and comfortable with each other.  The cost may seem prohibitive, but with some slight adjustment to your current lifestyle, it may be more affordable.  For instance, I had one client tell me she could easily pay for her personal training sessions because she had quit buying her coffee every morning on her way to work and quit buying lunch as often as she had been doing.

I was excited about  her revelation, on more than one level, as I had been recommending she not drink as much coffee AND, to help her lose weight (one of her goals), I wanted her to make her food rather than buy a meal that she couldn’t keep track of the fat, sugar or salt intake.  It was a win / win for this client and hiring a personal trainer can be a win / win for you too!