I’ve been a gym goer since the age of 14. We’ve broken up a few times and gotten back together. Sometimes it was love, sometimes it was hate. But overall our relationship has flourished and grown over time. Now, we exist in a harmonious balance, and I’m so grateful to have the gym in my life! But as I look back over the years, I can’t help but think that if I had known a few things earlier on, our relationship could’ve been a whole lot smoother.
6 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Working Out:
- You don’t always have to work out for an hour – Why we chunk our workouts into one hour slots I will never understand. Who decided that if you don’t workout for at least an hour, then there’s no point?? Once I learned that you can get amazing, if not better results, in a fraction of the time, it was a real game changer for me. Keep the intensity up, do compound exercises, reduce rest time, and you have yourself an awesome and effective workout in 30-40 minutes!! PLUS you’ll be able to warm up AND stretch properly and STILL be done within the hour. Another great option is to sprinkle fitness into your day. If you’re extremely busy and can’t block off gym time, no problem! Throw in some push ups here, some body weight squats there, some walking lunges down your hallway every time you hit the bathroom, and you can still get fit and improve your health! Forget structure, and just move when you can.
- It’s OK to take a hiatus – I used to worry that if I took a break for too long – I’d lose everything I had gained, my muscle would turn to fat, and I’d lose momentum and never go back. I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t listen to my body and respect when it was asking for a rest. Now, I take long breaks all the time. I switch things up. The body NEEDS it. Currently I’m actually on a lifting hiatus and am choosing to do 40 days of yoga! And by the way, muscle DOES NOT turn to fat. It’s biologically impossible. So we can just put that myth to rest! 😉
- Lift Heavy! – this is such a common issue with women. We go to the gym for years on end, lifting the same 5-10 lb dumbbells and wonder why we never see results. We’re afraid of getting too bulky or looking like a man. But trust me, that will not happen! Women do not have the same hormone profile as men, so in order to really build large muscles we need to work extremely hard. And for the average woman going to the gym a few times a week, we simply don’t need to worry about that. In order to get results and see improvement in your body composition and overall strength, you have to progressively overload the muscle. So go heavier ladies, challenge yourself!
- Seek help from a Professional – when I first started lifting weights I had NO CLUE. NONE. I just stuck to the machines in the little women’s only corner, did a few reps, sat around, did a few more reps….I had no structure and there was no real direction or goal. If I had paid for a few session just to understand the basics, I could’ve saved myself SO much time and energy! Not only can you get yourself an effective program, but you also learn correct form. THAT is probably the most important thing. Don’t risk injuring yourself, get help!
- Be Patient – when we start an exercise routine, we can be so eager for instant results that sometimes we feel disappointed and end up quitting. Don’t make this mistake! Weight training is hard and it can take awhile to feel and look different. Try to relax and enjoy the process. Don’t obsess over the scale or inches just yet. Make your workout a habit, follow a good program, be consistent, and just relax. Change will happen.
- You don’t have to KILL IT every time – This one is huge, especially for women (but also for men too). How many of you have ever totally rocked a workout and felt like you’re on top of the world, then next week do the same workout and feel like you totally sucked? Yeah, it happens. But when you take into consideration your sleep quality, hormone cycles, stress levels, and nutrition, this completely makes sense. We can’t always be 100%. Life throws us curve balls. Our kids get sick, we have work deadlines, we menstruate, we eat cake for dinner! Things happen! The next time you feel this way just check in with yourself. Chances are something is off. Don’t beat yourself up about it, negativity will get you no where! Remember to be gentle, at least you should up and did your best.
So there you have it! My hope is that you take these ideas and create effective lasting change in the gym.
May your workouts rock (but not every time), and may you build confidence, strength, and character…one rep at a time!!
In Wellness, Krista
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