Happy Monday, everyone! I must confess, I’m obsessed with new beginnings, whether it’s a new year, a new month, or a new week. I love the concept of starting over, planning bigger, climbing ever-higher, and being better. No matter how much we’ve avoided doing the right things in the past and gone full bore with all the wrongs ones, as Scarlett O’hara said, “Tomorrow is another day!” With a new day, there’s always the opportunity for a do-over to make ourselves better.
Of course, as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, the primary focus of my job is helping people to build better bodies.
“It’s a wise man who understands that every day is a new beginning, because boy, how many mistakes do you make in a day? I don’t know about you, but I make plenty. You can’t turn the clock back, so you have to look ahead.” Mel Gibson
How do we accomplish the task of building better bodies? Free weights? Kettlebells? Machines? Step aerobics? Cycle? Zumba? No, no, no, no, no, and again NO! These are all great ways to get exercise, but they do not build your body. No, in fact, they all succeed very well in tearing your body down. Weight training puts your body in a catabolic state, meaning muscle protein breakdown is occurring. Similarly, after a cardio or weight training workout, your body’s glycogen stores have been depleted, and they are the body’s key source for energy during a workout. If you don’t build a better body through exercise, how do you do it?
Okay, okay, I hear you protesting. Yes, you’re right if you’re asserting that exercise is at least part of building a better body. All forms of exercises provide the opportunity for the body to become better by physiologically stressing it, requiring it to build back even stronger to meet the demands of the stress being put upon it. However, it only gets better if you give just as much attention, if not more, to the refueling/rebuilding process as you did to the tearing down process.
Think of it, if you want a beautiful new home where an old shack used to be, and you go in and tear everything down, but never re-build, all you’re going be is tired, and all you’re going to have is a site full of potential. You can have the best demolition crew in town, as well as amazing blueprints for the new structure, but if you stop at the destruction phase and never begin construction, you won’t realize your dream of a beautiful, new home.
The same is true for your body. You can work out religiously, but if you have a poor diet, you are not going to build a better body. Most of us work out to be healthier and age more gracefully. What some people fail to realize is what I stated above: when we work out, we are tearing our bodies down. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I thought working out was supposed to give me more energy. I’m more tired than ever!” These are the same people who think that just because they are exercising, they can eat anything they want. Everything we do from exercising to digesting food requires energy, and that energy comes from the nutrients we get from food. When we up our activity levels, we up our requirements for nutrients because we are depleting them even faster. Therefore, it’s important to eat even better, not give ourselves license to eat low quality, high fat, processed foods. Now, let’s go back to the house analogy.
If you were going to build a new home, you would put the best quality materials you could afford, right? You would plan your budget accordingly to make sure you get the best home possible. Why not plan for your body as well as you would your home? You’re going to live in your body longer than any home you ever had. If you want to build a better body, you must use better, higher quality materials. I mean eating whole, not processed, foods and choosing organic when you can to reduce the amount of pesticides you get. Remember the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen” when it comes to determining which items on your grocery list should be organic. If you’re not convinced you need to eat organic, here’s a link to a video that explains the effects of glyphosate (Roundup) which is used on crops:
The next things we need to consider after the materials we need to use to build our bodies, and we need to determine how much of each material we need and which sources are better/best. We can be getting the recommended amounts of macronutrients, but all sources are not equal. I’ll go into this in further detail next week, but in the meantime, if you are serious about building a better body, whether it’s slimming down or bulking up, I’ve got two homework assignments for you before you read next week’s health post.
Your first assignment is to go to the following website and determine, based on your age, sex, weight, and activity level, roughly how many calories you should be consuming each day. If you want to lose a pound, which is 3500 calories, you need a deficit of 500 calories per day. (500 calories x 7 days = 3500 calories) That deficit can be created by any combination of less calories in and more calories burned through activity that add up to 500 calories per day. After finding out your caloric needs, you can go to the second link and discover how many calories your usual activities burn and figure out how to create your calorie deficit.
If you’re truly serious about building a better body, it’s important to be aware of these processes. You can’t just exercise, eat whatever, whenever and hope for the best. Again, back to the house analogy – you wouldn’t go to Home Depot without a plan, buy a bunch of random materials, go to your building site and start throwing things together, would you? Of course, you wouldn’t, and you can’t do that with your body either. Now if you have been trying to do this, and it hasn’t been working for you, don’t despair. Next week we’ll discuss some tweaks that you can try to help you achieve your desired results.
Don’t be caught next week without having done your homework! Put in the work at home as well as at the gym, and your body will thank you. Have a great week, and remember, “Tomorrow is another day!”