People exercise for different reasons. There are, however, instances when you do not seem to be getting where you want to be, as fast as you would like to.
Exercise for exercise sake
Like everything else you do, your fitness regime should have a target in mind, determined by what you want to achieve and why you are exercising. People exercise for all sorts of reasons. Some people want to lose weight, others want to buff up, others are driven by medical reasons and some just want to maintain a trim body.
The question then becomes — what do you want to achieve and in what timeline? What do you want to achieve and in how long?
Once you figure this out, it will also help you remain consistent in your exercise regime. It will not help if you keep it up for a period of time, then relapse into your old routine, only to pick it up again sporadically depending on your mood and schedule. To sustain a healthy lifestyle and make lasting changes, your goals need to be clearly set out – short term as well as long term.
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Staying hydrated is important, but even this is not as easy as it sounds for some. Do you just drink liquids? No. Water is always the best. Today’s range of hydrating options, from soft drinks to energy drinks, do not exactly help the situation. Instead of such drinks quenching thirst, they actually fill us up with sugar. Such excess sugar in the body will be stored as fat leading to weight gain.
Quite simply, you don’t need these drinks. Water is always better option to energy drinks. If you need some flavour, a squeeze of lemon will do. Trust me, you’re better off weaning yourself sooner rather than later. Drinking water now and then will not only flush toxins out of the body, it will also speed up your metabolism and reduce the risk of getting headaches.
Not eating right
The debate on how to eat and what to eat is one that brings in all sorts of arguments, one thing is clear however, working out on an empty stomach is a mistake. Science shows that the body gets into a fat-burning mode 40 to 50 minutes into your workout. So fuel up about 90 minutes prior to the workout to have enough energy to get you to that mark. Eat something light, like a banana or have a small helping of plain yoghurt.
As much as carbs provide energy, you need to stay active. Eating too much can lead to weight gain because your body somehow stores any extra energy as fat. Also, when you snack or eat meals comprising only carbs, your body quickly converts such carbs into simple sugars then sends such sugar off into your blood stream. This spikes your blood sugar and a sugar rush hits you, leaving you with low blood sugar as you gnaw in hunger pain.
You will need to practise portion control with carb-heavy foods to avoid exceeding your required caloric requirement for the day.
Lack of a plan
When you do the same type of exercise over and over again, the body quickly adapts and stops progressing. Switch it up. However, this switch also needs to be well thought out as switching it up too often can be counter-productive. Drastic changes will make your workouts less effective. Find a programme that ticks an array of boxes such as cardio, strength-training, some outdoor activity and try and stick to a regular routine for about three months.
Others stick to cardio and forget all other forms. Cardio workouts are excellent overall body workouts but when done intensively without complementing with weight-training, they will only end up straining your muscles. Infact, scientists say that we should put weight-training first followed by cardio. The body requires glycogen (blood sugar) for energy during weight-lifting; and the body will not burn fat until blood sugar stores run out.
On the other hand, there are those who advise that you do them on different days. This is to ensure that after the energy-draining and muscle-tearing cardio, your body has enough rest and repair time to get maximum results from the weight training.
Too much of anything...
The more you do, the better the results, right? Wrong. Overtraining can be a bad thing. When you work out too much without giving your body time to rest and replenish, you are creating room for increased muscle injury and decreased performance.
In addition, intense physiological stress makes the body prone to Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition that weakens the gut lining resulting in easier passage of germs and toxins into the bloodstream. Your body needs the rest to repair damaged tissues and restore energy. This is particularly more important for beginners as their bodies take longer to recover. A day off after every 2 to 3 days of exercise will give the body the downtime it requires to replenish.