Are you consistent in the gym, but feel like you have “nothing to show for it?” Maybe your body composition isn’t what you wish. Or you’re not as fast or strong as you know you can be. Your time in the gym is but one of oh-so-many factors that determine how you look, feel and perform. Truth be told, it’s your behaviors OUTSIDE the gym that matter most.
Here are some of the most important behaviors to have in line in order to meet your goals:
Everyone should get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. Good sleep impacts our hormones in a positive way; lack of sleep does the opposite. Sleep releases growth hormone and helps us to recover physically and mentally. Lack of sleep is a big stressor and can negatively impact body weight. There have been numerous studies where people have lost weight simply by getting more sleep alone. So, make sleep a non-negotiable and plan your daily schedule accordingly.
You are what you eat…cliche, but true. Filling your mouth with junk will make you feel like junk. But on the flipside, depriving yourself of small indulgences may result in binge eating. Extreme diets that neglect an entire food group – think keto, carnivore, etc. – can deprive you of important nutrients. UGH! There is so much information – and misinformation – out there, that it can be confusing to know what your eating should look like. You MUST arm yourself with education. Learn how to read food labels, understand what macronutrients are, aim to eat mainly whole foods with lots of plants, follow reputable nutritionists on social media. If you’re a newbie, it would be advantageous to work for a time with a nutritionist that will help guide you and empower you to make awesome choices and keep you accountable while you’re learning.
We must rest in order to make gains. Exercise is a stressor and, if performed too frequently and with too much intensity, leads to more stress and possibly overuse injuries. You shouldn’t have a barbell in your hand each day! We must take a day (or more) of rest in order to get better. You can’t continually break yourself down. So, start looking forward to rest days. Sleep in or take a walk on the beach or spend time doing something you love. It’s good for the mind and body.
Simply put: alcohol will keep you from your body and performance goals. Not only is alcohol empty calories, but it also negatively impacts hormones. Tread lightly with alcohol. When you drink, don’t overdo it. Drink water between cocktails. Don’t drink more than once per week. Find other things to do with friends instead of meeting at a bar. Many time, alcohol is simply a habit and YOU can change.
Get in More Steps
You may spend an hour working hard at the gym on any given day, but do you then sit at a desk for hours? Make a habit to get up and walk around every hour. Take the stairs. Park your car way out in the parking lot. Walk with your partner instead of watching an hour of tv. This regular physical activity leads to overall better health. Fire up that metabolism!
A positive mindset is key! BELIEVE that YOU are worth achieving your goals. Come to terms with the value of food – it tastes great and you can enjoy eating well. Realize that a not-so-great day at the gym isn’t going to keep you from your long-term goals. PRs don’t define you. Envision yourself as stronger, faster, leaner and devise a way to get there. All or nothing mindsets are limiting. And know that when you get to your goal, the hardest work is done. Love yourself!