One of my passions is loving the process of learning and growing. That eventually led me to be a fitness lover and health enthusiast. I have an innate competitive nature and love the daily challenge and grind wherever I can exploit my natural “just do it” proclivities. I turned to fitness because it was a gateway to achieving the next level of mind and body I did not possess before. I treat my professional life similar to my body. It’s a constant practice of building, challenging, fine tuning, iterating and most of all consistency. It has not only evolved my mindset mentally but I now understand and know that staying up to date with my routine will pay me off in life long returns(Bonus! Another verbose topic to talk about later :))
I will explain learning points, the process, and the science of fitness as well as my personal recommendations of how you to go about it.
I’ll go over valuable life lessons fitness has taught me and what I guarantee it will teach you:
Overcome the Challenge
Setting enough time to go to the gym is hard enough and eating well seems so inconvenient. “Life happens” we say. However, the truth is, it is a lifestyle change! Everyday you have to mindfully think about putting your mind and body first and making sure you’re making time for it. Without that block of “me time” in your calendar, the less likely you’ll actually do it.
How you do it:
#1. Block it in your calendar. My motto is usually treating it as an important business meeting that you should never miss! It’d be wise to choose a consistent amount of days you’re able to make it to the gym to exercise. I set a block of one hour 3 times a week in my calendar and one more day as a bonus if I have time and feel like it. Honestly, the secret sauce to all of this is consistency and sustainability! If you’re not compliant and consistent with how you train and exercise as well as how well you’re feeding yourself, you will most likely not see results. If you’re looking to burn fat and become leaner, staying compliant to a minimum 4 weeks of consistent training and eating is going to make you see fantastic changes to your body. I know. Because I’ve done it. I’ve literally went from a two-pack to a visible six pack in 3-4 weeks all the way back in September 2014 when I begun going to the gym. I didn’t stop there though. I loved the lifestyle and have been going strong and seeing amazing results even after 3 years of consistently keeping up with my routine and have maintained if not still evolved my body since. Depending on where you are and how much excess weight, it may indeed take longer to reach your desired body shape. Think at least 8-12 weeks if you do have 10-20 pounds of fat to lose.
#2. Exercise to improve strength and mobility. Stronger means leaner. The significant challenge was going every day and shooting for goals of increasing my strength in all ranges of motion. Not just one body part.. ALL your body parts! This includes from top down: shoulder, chest, back, glutes, legs. I personally feel abdomen and calves are not as important unless you prefer to develop them.(Hint! They will show once you have reached your lower body fat even if you don’t work those exclusively). This was the magic that transformed what we call my body composition. My ratio of lean mass to fat mass changed. My fat started disappearing, my lean muscle was building, and I was becoming a smaller person day by day. Muscle is more dense than fat. 5 pounds of muscle is about a quarter size of 5 pounds of fat. I was still the same weight when I started working out in the beginning even after the six pack! Because why? I was a first-timer lifting weights at the gym and there’s this period of time every new gym lifter experiences. We call this “newbie gains”. Essentially, it’s when a new lifter’s body is able to exponentially build new lean muscle at a fast rate and your body is able to recompose exceptionally well. More on this later. Initially, you want to start at relatively “baby” weights in the beginning to get used to the ranges of motion you are practicing for all your training routines then progressively increase weight each session while making sure your form is supreme.
Know your data
The process of getting to know how your body reacts to types of training(i.e. cardio or lifting weights) and nutrition is inherent in how you’ll learn to shape it exactly how you want.
How you do it:
#1. Know your numbers. Do you want to succeed? Well, how will you measure success if you’re not sure where you started in the first place or how you’re doing with any variables you changed? What you measure: 1) your physical weight and starting body fat measurements 2) your nutrition 3) your training.
Regarding your physical weight, this is simple. You weigh yourself! Everyday, for a week! Weight fluctuates a lot because of water retention or big meals you eat throughout the day. You want to find out how much you exactly weigh on an empty stomach in the morning for a week, average it out and that’s an accurate set point to start with. It would be even more beneficial if you were able to visit a body composition site/location to get accurate measurements of your muscle mass and fat mass. Why? Because this is what determines how much your body burns in calories to maintain weight! Once you have computed this data, you will be able to figure out how much you can eat in a deficit, to lose fat! Again, if you don’t have a site near you, there are online calculators as well! Your local gym has a high chance of having fat calipers and someone could measure for you. The main point here is that you measure with the same device you started with so you can track accurately.
Regarding nutrition, what I would recommend is finding your current set point. What I mean by this is figure out how much your body needs in calories with your current daily activities to maintain it’s shape. You can plug inputs such as age, gender, weight, height, activity into online calculators as well to get this figure. Once you find this number, I would eat those amount of calories for 1-2 weeks and see if there is any change in weight. Here on it’s self explanatory, if you gain weight, that set point number you calculated is too high, if you lose weight, the set point was a bit low, and if you maintain, great, you have found your current set point! Here, you can now reduce your maintenance calories by 200-300 calories and see if you see and feel any changes in the next 1-2 weeks. If you reach a stall in weight, keep on reducing up to 500-600 but no more! If you are over a 600 calorie deficit you’ll start seeing muscle loss, which equals a version of you that is less muscular, skinnier, with that flab look. I’m sure you’re not going for this look. Some useful apps I use to track my calorie intake is MyFitnessPal. You can download these from your phone’s app store. Nice segue-way into my next learning point.
Back to my earlier point of overcoming challenges, your training should be fun and challenging each session. It’s prudent to track how much weight you are increasing by with proper form when lifting weights. You’ll be surprised how strong you get and it will motivate you to keep pushing hard next time. I use Fitted Lifts to track my strength in weight to ensure I’m increasing weight each time if not maintaining, also downloadable through your phone’s app store.
It’s a journey of trial and error. A/B testing if you will. In a controlled environment, you start with your regular routine of exercising(or not) and eating and see whether there have been positive results you see from it. My assumptions are you have not. Now it’s time to test! You change a variable in your routine of exercising and eating, magical things start to happen. And you’ll know exactly what the root factors were! From my examples above, you’re playing with two variables: 1) your nutrition 2) your training
How you do it:
#1. Now that you have your set point in nutrition and weight. You can now iterate and start changing variables either from one of them or both at the same time. Doesn’t matter which one, just choose at least one or both. I would start with nutrition to begin easing into new habits for eating. You will never out-exercise a poor diet. Essentially, you have to make sure you’re eating enough but still be in a deficit. Figure out how much you need to eat to be in a little deficit(200-300 calories) and stay consistent with this deficit for at least 2-4 weeks. Your meal plan should ideally include a good balance of high lean protein, fibrous vegetables, and complex carbs(i.e sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice). If you feel by week 4, you’re feeling good, perhaps you can start going to the gym and lifting! If you’re all gung-ho and ready to start hitting two birds with one stone from the start, I would begin with lifting 1-2x per week for 1-2 weeks, 2-3x per week from 3-4 weeks and so on until your hearts desire. Remember, rest days are important from exercise, and it’s imperative to recovery and growth.
Mind & Body Development
Following your compliance with the set of learning points I have described, you will most likely enter a realm of new realizations and self-awareness. I believe going through these motionsreally will boost your esteem to achieve anything you set your mind to and are consistent with. It’s always interesting to describe what really taking care of your body really does for you. When evaluating the process I went through, I realized how much it applied to everyday work and life. I took a problem, overcame the challenges associated with it, figured out all the data points, and iterated on the solutions to find the best fit that suited the user, me. I’ve also discovered, it’s 80% what you put in your body and 20% what you do with it. In this case, it’s a combination between nutrition and training. 20% of how you train will produce 80% of your results. 80/20 rule. Work out smart, not hard. Pareto’s rule, don’t you love it?! It’s only after you have experienced the process, you will truly appreciate how worth it is to invest in yourself physically and mentally.
Some other primary benefits I have personally experienced are:
1) mental clarity and processing
2) calm decompressed mindset
3) self appreciation and confidence
4) high positivity and energy
5) better health
6) maintaining youth
7) a drive to always challenge myself and pursue the next level
Hope you enjoyed this and feel free to comment if there’s anything you’d like me to write a piece on! Adieu.