The road to hell is paved with good intentions. An excellent proverb when considering the actions and behaviors needed to fulfill health and wellness goals you’ve set for yourself. You probably have the best intentions. You want to feel better, perform better, look better, and live longer. Unfortunately, intentions are only realized if the correct actions and behaviors are consistently carried out.
We never purposely shoot ourselves in the foot, but we do it nevertheless. Let’s ponder five subversive behaviors that can easily thwart our health and wellness objectives.
Shooting in the dark and exercising haphazardly might briefly produce results, but without a plan, the results will be short lived. Long-term results come by design. The design must revolve around your wellness goals, so first make sure your goals are realistic. Realistic goals provide an understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Once you know “why”, the “how” can be determined. Excellence is in the details. Choosing specific exercise variations to precisely fit your goals is the difference between mediocre, somewhat successful exercise programming and efficient, highly successful programming. A fitness professional is a valuable resource for guiding you through the “how”.
Keep in mind, your body and its ability to move is a collaborative effort of all its parts. Imbalances throughout the body will affect how well you move. Tightness here and weakness there will influence your movement quality. Determining the location and cause of any imbalances and then counteracting them when necessary is a prerequisite for improving movement quality, reducing the risk of injury, and getting the most out of each exercise.
Movement competence also influences your movement quality. Do you know how to correctly perform a particular exercise? The ability might be there, but you just don’t know how to do it. If my childhood memory serves me correctly, G.I. Joe always closed the show by saying, “knowing is half the battle.”
In order to safely and efficiently exercise, you must have both the ability and the know-how to move correctly. With exercise, quality always trumps quantity.
Now that you’re performing the correct exercises correctly, take measure of your exercise intensity. Are you working hard enough to reach your desired results? Exercise is work and should feel like it.
If you’re strolling on the treadmill while easily discussing the latest gossip on your cell with a friend, you’re not going to burn the calories to lose the desired weight. Work within your target heart rate zone to increase the rate at which you burn calories and also reap the cardiovascular benefits.
You have a goal of putting on some lean muscle mass, but your last repetition in a set is no more difficult than your first repetition. You’re not going to see any gains. To gain strength you need to progressively and consistently overload your muscles. Overload, simply put, means the weight you’re lifting feels heavy. Refer back to movement quality though. The more difficult the lift, the more spot on your technique and form must be.
If you’re doing the right stuff, doing it properly, and tired when you finish, you must consider how to correctly recover from the workout. You’re actually breaking down your body (in a good way) while you workout. The improvements occur when your body repairs itself. The repairing process occurs during your rest and recovery period. If you don’t allow proper recovery, you won’t see improvements, so, depending on the type of workout you’re performing, you’ll have to develop a recovery program as part of your fitness program.
Elements of a comprehensive rest and recovery program are; sleep, hydration, nutrition, proper posture, and stretching/myofascial release.
You have to fuel the machine and provide the proper materials to build and repair its parts. The type of food you put in dictates your body’s ability to refuel, repair, and build.
If fat loss is your goal, refueling yourself enough to be prepared for your next workout while maintaining a caloric deficit can be quite a balancing act. Eating nutrient dense foods can be a game changer in the weight loss battle. Nutrient dense foods are just what they sound like. They have a lot of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats but relatively few calories.
A couple millennia ago, a fellow named Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Without consistently sticking to your wellness plan, you might as well toss the plan in the trash. Regularity is required for real results.
Be patient. Results will not come over night. Small disciplines repeated with consistency everyday lead to great achievement gained slowly over time.