by Meghan Lee of Barre Athletica
The struggle is STILL REAL. As we were talking about in Part 1 of the Summer Body Project blog, The Right Equation is key to seeing the results you want! Below are the remaining parts of that equation that are vital in your success.
I’d like to take this opportunity to do a 180 and talk about the flip side of exercise. Tuning in to what your body is telling you, will help you steer clear from injuring yourself and burning out. Tweaks, twinges, any pain that doesn’t feel right, may be your body telling you to lay off for a bit.
There is a point where a strenuous exercise routine can become harmful without rest. Even athletes take rest days. Rest days are scheduled days off. Without rest and time to recover, instead of your muscles building, they will begin to break down. Fatigued and overworked muscles are the gateway to becoming injury prone. I’ve worked with people who have a really hard time taking a day off and end up paying for it with more lost time from exercise due to strains or tears. Don’t be afraid to take more rest if you need it. This is where listening to your body comes in!
Make sure you have at least one rest day built into your weekly routine for optimal muscle recuperation. Your muscles will repair and build for up to 72 hours. Without more demand they will start to atrophy. A program of 3-4 days weight work, cardio days in between with one or two solid rest days (depending on how you’re feeling of course) is optimal. Look on the bright side! Now you can take a rest day without feeling lazy or guilty.
(I will be dedicating a whole blog on Recovery and Rest so keep your eye out for it.)
This is a topic that many of my clients underestimate.
What’s the big deal?! Well, the big deal is you’re putting in all this hard work and then you're not sleeping well at night. Not only do your cortisol levels rise (the stress hormone that is frequently associated with weight gain), you are not allowing the sufficient time or environment for your body to fully recover.
It’s been scientifically proven that the body needs rest to repair muscle, release hormones regulating growth and appetite, and other necessary functions to make your day better tomorrow and increase the length and quality of your life.
If you’re not getting a good night’s rest, your efforts in the other parts of your equation will not be able to pick up the slack. You will eventually hit a dead end.
Preparing your environment for sleep will help you increase your chances of getting that solid beautyrest.
Don’t fall asleep with the TV on. The light from the TV or a light left on messes with your internal clock.
You can try setting up an alarm on your phone, an hour before you need to be asleep. This will help remind you to start "shutting down" for the day.
Put your phone on DND and turn the brightness down.
Go to the bathroom before you go to bed. The less you have to wake up, the better.
I use an app called Sleep Cycle. It monitors your sleep throughout the night, how many times you wake up, when you are deep sleeping. These apps are more effective with the wearable technology you can pair with it. It’s a little more difficult to get accurate readings when there’s two people in the bed with your phone laying on the bed, but you get the idea, and it gets you into a habit of preparing yourself for bed, more involved in thinking about your sleep, and it becomes a little game of “winning” your best shut eye ;)
Prepare your environment for sleep. I love to turn the lights down, put on my yoga playlist and stretch before bed. It gets me into a deep breathing state and mindfully allows me to release stress and tension from my day.
Commitment and Attitude
I can’t stress this point I’m about to make enough.
It’s time to stop looking at yourself as a list of things you need to change. It's a science project, that becomes a lifestyle if you keep at it and find ways to enjoy the process. There’s never an end to it. It's not like one day you wake up fit and healthy and that's it, your work is done. Having a strong lean body takes long term commitment and dedication. Jack Lalanne looked they way he did in his late years because he never stopped making health and fitness a priority in his life.
So many wasted moments when I was young and hating on myself for not sticking with a diet or a fitness routine, when really, all I had to do was ACT!
Now, when I’m noticing my mood is off or I'm experiencing weight gain, I know I just need to adjust my formula and I can get back on track without all the extra eye rolling nonsense! Every day, your body is different. One day you’ll be full of energy, one day you may just feel off. Don’t judge it. It’s all a work in progress!
The more you think of your body as a science project, built by a series of formulas and equations, you’ll begin to see that how healthy and fit your body is, is ultimately in your control.
I’ve seen people with all types of challenges, find a way to incorporate those healthy lifestyle changes, where they begin to see and feel a real difference. You can do this!
It takes PERSISTENCE. But you can’t give up because you “think” it’s not working. That's a sure fire way for absolutely nothing to happen. That, I can money back guarantee you. And then you're there in front of the mirror again, picking yourself apart. Forget that!
Every time you're about to be hard on how your body looks, I want you to think about what you did today to get closer to a fit body in your equation. I want you to save all that nitpicking until you've given yourself 3-6 months to a full year of doing what is in your power to make a stronger, healthier, you, the right way, and then we’ll talk.
I will let you in on a little secret for motivational purposes. Beginnings are hard, no doubt, BUT once you get your rhythm, your body will start to build muscle and transform over time.
These changes, with maintenance, will be long lasting. Even if you fall off your healthy eating for a few days or take a few extra days off, your body can bounce back way faster than when you first started.
The transformation you start to experience will be a direct result in the commitment you put to it. What you commit to and how persistent you are, will be the push that gets you over those beginning hurdles.
Having realistic goals is crucial to making this a reality.
If you want a lean muscular body with minimal body fat, you need to understand that it takes a lot of time and discipline to achieve this. That means clean eating-no sugar or salt or sweets, no alcohol, lots of time spent on exercise, preparing and eating meals, sleep, water etc.
To get that body and maintain it, for almost everyone who tries, is a fulltime job. I’m sure it already sounds like a lot of work, and it is. STILL every little bit counts! The point I’m trying to make is, how much work you are willing to put in and sometimes what you’re willing to sacrifice, can dictate how fast you see results.
For one second, though, let's be real with each other. If you make all these changes at once, you're good for like 2-3 weeks and then you burn out from having to keep up with all these new habits.
My advice? Especially if you're just starting to get into a new routine, I would change only 1 or 2 things at a time. Start eating or eat something better in the morning, get to that class when you’ve planned on it, find a variety of new healthier foods that you like, drink more water etc.
Once you find a routine with those 1 - 2 things, try instilling other new habits. The accumulation of these small changes will start to take their effect and you are way more likely to keep them going to the point that it feels natural.
Your body and your goals are unique. What works for some, may not for you, and that goes for everything under the sun. It takes time and patience, some trial and error, some adjusting here and there, but if you keep pushing forward, it's well worth it.
Reaching those goals of yours is no easy task, but don’t forget that there's a world of people out there, trying to make the same kinds of things happen for themselves.
Find your favorite resources for recipes, a meal home delivery service, take an organic cooking class or google the latest on organic nutrition. Make yourself accountable by joining a social media group or make a fitness or food challenge with a group of friends or work colleagues. Sign up for fitness classes, follow a daily fitness blog or get a personal trainer for a month. You will be happy you did when you’re wearing that bathing suit and feeling extra amazing in it!
Find ways to make this process a lifestyle-altering, life-changing event.
I’ll tell you right now, no one in the history of the world, got into the best shape of their lives and was disappointed. :) Get on it!
Please feel free to let me know how it’s going! I want to hear your stories, if you want to tell them. Go Team Go! email@example.com
MEGHAN LEE is a Fitness Professional, that worked in NYC for over a decade, and has recently transplanted here to Wilmington. She is NASM certified in Personal training, Corrective Exercise, Behavior Change, and Sports Performance training. She is also a certified Yoga instructor, teaching a range of classes from Bootcamp/Hiit and Circuit training to Barre Method/Fusion classes and a range of yoga styles. Throughout her fitness career, since 2006, she has worked for popular companies in Manhattan with different approaches to fitness, not to exclude her own private client base in the NYC metro area.
From creating and running programming and workshops, to creating and advising wellness and exercise prescriptions, she has had the privilege of working with all ages and body types, gaining crucial hands on experience and knowledge in all sorts of areas which are touch on in this blog. Programs, challenges, exercises, injuries, flexibility, pain, heath limitations, you name it. She is excited to have the opportunity to share with you all the tips and info she has accumulated over the years and Anahata are grateful to have her be a part of our blogs!