When I was at University, I used to be fairly obsessed with going to the gym. Most of my best friends were either ‘die-hards’ or bodybuilders and for a number of years I dedicated myself to the cause.
I would spend a lot of my day on gym-related efforts; preparing meals for my 6 per/day diet, training, discussing techniques with other friends and reading countless articles online. I also spent £50 ($80) a month on memberships and about £400 a month between food and supplements. I was really passionate about it and often thought about starting a gym-related blog.
Now that I have graduated, my lifestyle doesn’t permit the same commitment. I simply don’t have time. I still regularly use the gym at my work (which is free), but the same enthusiasm and drive is missing. This is not because I have given up, or miss my friends; but because I do not have a training buddy/team.
- Find a training buddy. Preferably somebody of an equal size, strength and fitness – this will allow you to push each other, compete and progress quicker. If there is nobody of an equal caliber - still train with somebody. At least this will motivate you to attend the gym – you are more likely to keep appointments with a person than the gym itself
80% of the Gym is in the Kitchen
Growing up, most of us are taught to eat three main meals a day. Breakfast usually being the lighter meal, lunch a bit more fulfilling; with an all-out feast at dinner. This is what mankind once decided was a good structure and we have all followed since. Our bodies have become used to a routine because it is the social norm. I am speculating here, but what if the idea of three meals a day was decided upon purely because it was all that was possible; man had to hunt, kill and cook their food, which all took a lot of time.
Eating around six small meals is becoming an increasingly popular practice – and with good reason! Nutritionists and health experts are adopting this new philosophy and have seen some fantastic results.
The idea behind this theory is that eating more frequent and smaller meals can help you to lose weight and absorb vital nutrients more efficiently. Experts believe that the body can only process so much at a single serving without eliminating or storing excess nutrients. This is also the case for healthy foods.
Where’s the Proof?
A resarch study carried out at St. Michael’s Hospital in Ontario, Canada, observed two groups of people. One group were given a common three-meals-a-day diet while the other group was asked to consume over a dozen small meals throughout the day.
At the end of the study, the “snackers” showed considerably lower levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the bad kind which clings to the arteries).
A seperate study carried out at the University of Limburg in the Netherlands revealed that those who consume mini-meals had more consistent carbohydrate and fat oxidization levels, contrasting with the “gorgers” fluctuating readings – consequently making them more prone to weight gain.
- Eat at least six small meals throughout the day. Find a way to fit this into your work schedule. Substitute lunch with two smaller meals and do the same with dinner. Have healthy snacks with you at all times – fruit, nuts, flapjacks etc. Don’t gorge until you are full and equally don’t miss a meal because you are not hungry – changing habits and cravings take time. Your body is used to your current routine.
The final tip I want to share with you today is on rest time and workout duration. I hear people all too many times saying ‘I nailed the gym for four hours today’ or ‘I went to the gym everyday this week’ – well I went to the gym three times this week and for less than an hour each session. My training was more effective than yours.
- You don’t allow your muscles enough time to recover following a workout. Essentially by training – whether it be running, cycling, weights etc. – you are working a muscle, damaging it and then allowing it to repair itself to a bigger and stronger state than before. If you don’t leave enough time between workouts, you don’t allow your body sufficient time to repair and are not at full strength for next time.
- Over-training can sometimes actually result in the opposite – putting on weight! Hormones play a big part here and often over-training can lead to wasting muscle and fat deposition. The science behind this is that your testosterone:cortisol ratio is lopsided – you are burning precious muscle tissue instead of the intended fat! Over-training creates an abundance of cortisol which will increase insulin resistance and fat deposition – this causes a build up of fat, particularly around the mid-section (I sounded like a science geek there ). If you training like a spartan and seeing negative results – chilllll! I would add that cortisol levels are reduced as you sleep, hence the important of a good night’s rest.
- You hugely increase the risk of personal injury. If your muscles have not had time to repair, you are weaker and hence have more potential to hurt yourself. This would then cease training altogether.
- If D.O.M.S. (delayed onset muscle soreness) is causing you serious pain, your joints are hurting or you find yourself getting ill (your immune system is down) – these are also a result of over-training. Your body is telling you to slow down!
- You are less likely to commit over time. How long can you keep up this unrealistic routine? It will end up being a fad and you will likely quit altogether. My routine is practical.
- Make small and attainable changes when it comes to working out. Be realistic and commit to a gym schedule you can sustain. Going to the gym a few times a week for a short period of time wins over an impractical daily regime. The same goes for diet. Don’t quit all your favourite things at once – cut them out your diet slowly and you will find that by the end you no longer have cravings. Sleep is a vital component of the muscle recuperation process. Make sure you get at least 7 hours after training hard.
Although I don’t train nearly as hard as I used to (lack of training buddies) I still train 3 days a week and in the same way. Admittedly I am currently not nearly as disciplined in my diet as I once was, but I still eat good food and multiple meals a day. I have been doing this for years and it is my routine. I changed things slowly over time and they are ‘normal’ to me now. I still get funny looks from the canteen staff when I turn up for my second lunch, but I know what works for me.
I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan
Please let me know if you have enjoyed this post – I was a little reluctant to post as it is quite different to my normal style.