The Fitness Puzzle – Which Piece Are You Missing?
When it comes to fitness goals, most people end up falling short of where they would like to be. Part of that is the lofty expectations that people have, and part of it is our “instant gratification” society where people want a quick fix. But take out the people who expect to lose 20 pounds in a month, and there are still plenty of others who make a commitment to diet or exercise and never see the results that they would like. It’s often something that the individual doesn’t realize is important that is holding them back. Let’s solve your fitness puzzle, and see what you might be missing.
I put this one first because this is the one that I’m most passionate about. Overall fitness isn’t about looking thin, it also requires you to have some muscle mass. You burn about the same number of calories lifting weights as doing cardio, but there’s the added benefit of building muscle which will increase your body’s ability to burn calories day in and day out. It’s also important as we age to maintain some muscle mass to make daily activities such as picking up kids or bringing heavy boxes up from the basement easier. Full body lifts like the deadlift that engage multiple muscle groups at the same time and mimic daily tasks are an excellent way to maximize the carryover from your workouts to your daily life.
My personal kryptonite, this one is not just about burning calories. Your heart is also a muscle and needs to strengthened. Cardio can be boring if you always do steady state (think treadmill or elliptical) but it can also be something that can be much more exciting, like playing basketball or taking a peloton class. The important part is to find something that you like that allows you to stay engaged and eliminates the feeling that it’s a chore.
Most people lie about this one, not to their trainer or their friends, but to themselves. If your fitness goal is weight related, this one is the MOST important, but it’s also the one that people understand the least. Most people really don’t know what a healthy diet looks like, so they have trouble finding things that they like that are healthy. Professional help is a must if you have all of the other pieces in place and still can’t meet your goals. A nutritionist or registered dietician can give you a better idea of how much you should be eating, as well as some healthy options to get you there.
Do you get your eight hours of sleep every night? Everyone has different sleep requirements, some operate on less sleep and some on more, but it should be an average of at least seven to eight hours per night. The key here though is that it’s quality sleep. Stop looking at your phone, tablet, computer and TV an hour before bed. The blue light from your phone doesn’t necessarily make it hard to fall asleep at first, it can also be the culprit if you wake up tossing and turning halfway through the night.
“Half a gallon a day keeps the doctor away”. That’s not an actual saying but it should be. Half a gallon may sound like a lot, but it’s really just four water bottles. Still think that’s a lot? How many white claws or sodas can you finish while at a party for two to three hours? How many coffees do you have in a day? If you drink a bottle of water when you wake up, one at lunch, and one with dinner, you’re already almost there already. The hardest part here is being aware of it, but your body is mostly made up of water and oddly enough most people don’t actually know what it feels like to be truly hydrated. When you’re fully hydrated your body operates in its optimal state, and once you know what it feels like, you won’t want to go back. To get an understanding of about how much water you need, take your body weight and divide it in half. That’s about how many ounces you should be having. While it’s not exact and every person has different requirements based on activity levels, it’s a good place to start.
Which Piece Are You Missing?
Did you figure out where you tend to fall short? First identify it, then make the effort to change it. Being healthy is not a goal with a finish line, it is a constant pursuit of improvement and maintenance, and requires us to be aware of where we’re falling short and try to continuously make small lifestyle changes that we can continue over the long haul. Lifestyle changes don’t necessarily mean that you never have desert, or have to run every single day. They mean that when you do something outside of your routine, you get back on it as soon as possible, move on, and keep moving forward.
Steve Zarriello is a Certified Strength and Conditoning Specialist, and the owner of Olympia Fitness and Performance, located in Cranston, RI. He has been training clients of all different ages, abilities and backgrounds to help them reach their specific goals for almost 15 years. His primary focus is on working with golfers to help improve their ability to play the game and keep them pain free.