Answering Your Frequently Asked Health and Fitness Questions – Part 2

Hey there, lovelies!

Today I’ll be continuing my FAQ series with a few more questions from my Instagram (@maryvm.fitness). Feel free to reach out and let me know what questions you would like featured in this series!

“How do I make a healthy lifestyle last long-term? How do I stick with it?”

  • Rule number one: make it realistic. I wrote a lot about this in my post “Creating Your Healthy Lifestyle“. If you’ve never really worked out consistently before, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re not going to be able to consistently workout 5 or 6 days a week, let alone every single day! So be realistic with your schedule and your goals. If all you think you can really commit to (for now) is 3 or 4 days a week then go for that! Better to do a solid 3 or 4 days a week consistently than to do every day for a couple weeks before burning yourself out and quitting.
  • Know that it takes time and results don’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and consistency, results only come to those who put in the work! If you focus entirely on when you’re going to start seeing the results I can guarantee you won’t last long. Instead, focus on the process and make the most of it. Take progress photos when you start your journey, put them away and forget about them for a few months. In the meantime, focus on giving your all in your workouts and stick with it. You WILL get results and you WILL make progress if you work hard (find a trainer or a guide that will ensure you are working out properly and effectively), stay consistent, and maintain a positive mindset. Then, before you know it, you’ll remember those progress pictures and finally be able to make some comparisons and see the progress you’ve made over the months. It’s a process and a journey so focus on the here and now. You’ll never make it if you’re obsessing about the speediness of your desired results.

“I know I need to workout… but I hate it! What do I do?”

  • Not everyone can workout in the same way, the same frequency, etc. Everybody is different and has their own preferences, so take time to figure out what types of activity work best for you! Some people love lifting and working out in the gym like I do, some people like rock climbing, cycling or swimming. I have friends who hated working out in the gym, but found that they love kickboxing or martial arts! There are so many fun and interesting ways to get a good workout, so get out there and try new things until you find something you really enjoy. This comes back to the point in the previous question as well, you’re not very likely to stick with a routine that you hate and that doesn’t fit you well. Most importantly find something you enjoy. Get creative, find your passion, get excited about the workouts you’ll be doing on a regular basis.
  • Given what I’ve said above, keep in mind that if you have specific goals (ex. building muscle, getting abs, those kinds of things) you have to do more specific workouts to accomplish those goals. So while I absolutely recommend that you try things until you find a workout you love, keep in mind that swimming won’t build a booty, cycling won’t get you a six-pack, etc. So if you have specific goals you may need to do a combination of different things (some of which may not be enjoyable to you) to accomplish those goals.
  • Finally, while I am a big believer that everyone can find some form of effective workout that they enjoy, it is important to remember that fitness is hard work. To some extent this depends on your personal goals – for example, someone who is trying to build muscle will have to work a lot harder than someone who is aiming for general health through something like yoga. It’s important to be okay with being uncomfortable sometimes as your body will be challenged and pushed to new limits. To get amazing results and progress you have to commit to the journey and expect to work hard!

“Can I eat whatever I want and just workout to get results?”

  • While working out consistently can get results despite a bad diet, those results will be extremely minimal because of the unhealthy, fattening foods you’re consuming and the lack of nutrients that your body desperately needs. There’s a saying that “you can’t out exercise a bad diet”… and yes, that is true. You have to provide your body with healthy macro and micronutrients to help it reach your goals. Proper nutrition works so closely with your workouts and your recovery post-workout. In fact, there are lots of specific ways to time and work with your food to maximize your results.
  • Remember that eating healthy does not have to be an extremely strict and miserable thing! Just like I talked about in the previous post of this series (Answering Your Health and Fitness FAQ’s! Part I) you can still have occasional treats and you do not have to cut out a thousand yummy things forever. It really comes down to your priorities and your commitment to your body and your health. Commit to taking care of your body and use healthy, nutrient-rich foods to work alongside your workouts to not only get results, but to help your body function the best it possibly can.

There you have it, another addition to this series that I hope you found helpful! I’ve really been enjoying sitting down and addressing these common questions, so many of these topics are crucial for developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As always, feel free to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns!

xoxo, Mary.

Never forget, we want to be strong, not skinny! Contact me for one-on-one personal training and follow my Instagram @maryvm.fitness for regular fitness motivation, tips and workouts. 💪

 

Answering Your Health and Fitness FAQ’s! Part I

Hey there, lovelies!

It’s been a little while since I last posted, I’ve been buckled down and focused the last several months as I was finishing my in-depth personal training education. Now I’m free as can be for the rest of the summer and I can’t wait to spend more time writing. I’ve also got some very exciting projects in the works that will help make my personal training services even more accessible… more on that later. 🙂

Today I decided to start a series based on the frequently asked questions I get on Instagram. Since I answer these questions on the regular, I figured it could be helpful to dedicate a few blog posts to them. Heck, I remember having these same questions a long time ago and I didn’t know where to look for answers. So here you go! Feel free to let me know about any questions you have to be featured in this series.

#1 How do I get abs???

This has to be the most asked question I get… ever. Everyone wants that flat, toned and tight tummy look. But actually achieving it can be so much harder than you think. Fear not! I love training abs, and I’ve gotten great six-pack results on my own using the following guidelines. The photo below shows my 6 month ab progression, the top left-top right, followed by the bottom left-bottom right.

  1. Doing a million crunches won’t get you abs that you can see… not without cardio. You have to burn the fat layer on top of the muscle first and foremost. The same is true of any body part or muscle group you’re looking to improve, tone, or tighten. Cardio is key for this part of the process (I always recommend HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training).
  2. Abs really are, at least partially, made in the kitchen. Lots of unhealthy foods end up getting stored in tummy fat, especially if you’re predisposed to a lot of tummy fat storage to begin with. So don’t ignore your diet, eat clean and lean, and work on detoxing your body.
  3. As a general rule in fitness, as well as when your goal is to get strong abs, always combine resistance training AND cardio. You need both to get results! Studies have shown that regular resistance training done along with cardio is the most efficient way to get a leaner physique. Cardio alone won’t get you the toned look you’re going for. You have to combine it with strength and resistance training. An example schedule would look like this: resistance and weight training in the 20-25 rep range, 3-5 days a week. Plus cardio (treadmill, HIIT, cycling, etc) in the morning or after weight training, 3-6 days a week.
  4. Perform ab-specific circuit training at the end of your workouts. I train my abs 4-5 days a week, using a circuit routine made up of 4 exercises (20 reps each exercise, 5 rounds)
    when I’ve finished my main workout for the day. That way I can focus on leg day, for example, and still get a kickass ab workout in at the end.
  5. Know your body type and focus on your trouble areas. If you naturally store a lot of your fat on the tummy, you’ll need to spend a little more time on it. For me, my arms and abs don’t store a lot of fat. However, my thighs and booty looove to hang on to fat all too well. Knowing this, I spend more time training lower body because that’s my trouble area.

With those basic guidelines you can not only make great progress towards your abs, but also develop a routine that will help you blast fat, gain strength, and develop a great beginning fitness level. And remember, you engage your core when properly performing most exercises and lifts, so really you’re training abs during just about any workout, not just ab-specific ones! 🙂

#2 Can I still have treats or do I have to eat exclusively healthy?

I’m a big believer that occasional treats are a huge part of making a healthy lifestyle sustainable. If you restrict yourself too much all the time you’re bound to burn out. I personally have a weekly treat (usually a cheeseburger… or fries… or icecream… or candy…) and I encourage my clients to do the same. It keeps you sane! The key is to keep it as a treat. Do not binge eat. Enjoy the treat for what it is and then get right back on the healthy food. When the majority of what you eat is nutritionally dense and good for you it’s okay to have an occasional treat. It’s all about balance and moderation, people! And hey, it’s always helpful to try to find healthy alternatives that you crave! 🙂

#3 Can/should I workout when I’m sick, sore, or on my period?

The answer to all three is yes. However, it is so important to listen to your body!

Sickness: If you have a fever or an illness that causes any kind of dizziness, muscle aches or extreme fatigue… take it easy! If you have something more simple, like a cold, I say go for it. Take it slow and stop if your body can’t handle it. Lower the intensity of the workout a bit to take it a little easier on yourself. I find that when I’m under the weather, working out is one of the best ways to feel better and recover quickly. I’m not saying to go crazy with something intense like HIIT while you’re sick, but some basic resistance training can be really refreshing.

Soreness: What kind of sore is it? Are you just feeling that normal, “I worked out hard yesterday” kind of sore? Then go for it. Make sure your training schedule allows for proper rest and recovery between workouts (ex. alternate upper and lower body days). But if you’re training hard and effectively, you’re probably going to be sore a lot. That’s okay! On the other hand, if you are in pain, having twinges, joint issues or something that doesn’t feel normal, go see a doctor before continuing your training. Better to get it checked or let it rest than risk serious injury!

Period: we all know the awful side effects that can come along with that time of the month… not fun. But working out (even if all you can manage is a long walk or some basic lifts) is a great way to help reduce those symptoms. Studies have also shown that women who workout regularly have less intense PMS! Cool, right? 🙂 I find that getting in the gym and reminding myself what I’m capable of is a great mental and physical boost during that time.

I hope you’ve found this helpful and I hope you’ll start implementing these guidelines into your routine. As always, feel free to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns. I’m always happy to help however I can! Keep an eye out for the rest of this series, we’ve got a lot of questions to go! 🙂 There will also be many more posts on lots of topics as I get into a regular posting schedule.

xoxo, Mary.

Never forget, we want to be strong, not skinny! Contact me for one-on-one personal training and follow my Instagram @maryvm.fitness for regular fitness motivation, tips and workouts. 💪