8 Fitness Life Do's and Don'ts by Stuart MacEwan
1. Do try new things. The body needs ever changing stimuli to encourage your muscles and tissues to adapt. It needs to wiggle, strain, leap, sprint, chase, cut and spin. Make a goal every month (or every year for you cautious people) to try something you haven't tried before. Your body will thank you with new results.
Don't neglect the basics. Your body also needs to see certain things every week, for the rest of your life. Assuming you are healthy without chronic injury, you should have some sort of basic weight and cardio program that is consistent and progressive in weight and challenge. Squat, deadlift and pullup every week without fail. Put in your miles on your bike or on the trail. Always strive to go a little further and a little heavier. Your body needs to see a consistent weekly effort to make longstanding metabolic and physiological changes.
2. Do listen to your doctor. He went to medical school for a reason. If you have an injury and it isn’t going away or its getting worse, go see your doctor. The world is filled with tough-guys who could have avoided surgeries if they had gone to see a doctor years earlier.
Don’t believe everything he says. Doctors see injuries all day, and sometimes they can form prejudiced opinions on exercise based on the injuries they treat everyday. Doctors don’t always get to see the countless people performing exercises in a safe and progressive manner. Use your own judgment... you are the person who is actually in the gym or studio.
3. Do try different diets. See what fits you best. Each person can respond variably to different eating habits. Since fitness is really a lifetime study of what works best for you...experiment!
Don’t give up on your diet too quickly. It can take up to 8 weeks of consistent practice to get your body to start seeing results for a dietary change. Part of what makes a diet work is applying it faithfully over a period of time, so stay the course with your diet for at least 3 to 4 months to really give it a chance to work.
4. Do lift heavy things. Kettlebells, barbells and dumbbells act on your body in ways that bodyweight movements cannot. Heavy external stressors cause your muscles, bones and connective tissues to adapt progressively. This is how muscle and bone density is built.
Don’t neglect the bodyweight exercises. Yoga, Pilates, gymnastics and cardiovascular exercise use the muscle you have already built and increase the body’s ability to use it in a synergistic and coordinated manner. Balance, coordination, and dexterity increase due to bodyweight conditioning. Think of it this way, heavy weights tear the muscles down and cause them to grow; bodyweight exercises prompt your body to put itself back together in a balanced way.
5. Do get involved with a group event. Making plans to do a local event with friends is way more fun than watching TV at home.
Don’t overlook the value of combining exercise and friendship. People who go to group events have all the interesting stories to tell at parties.
6. Do flaunt what your mama gave you. There is only one you and we want to see what you got! You worked for it, let’s see it!
Don’t get all shy on us. You are amazing!
7. Do work hard when its time to work. Work hard, play hard. Getting in shape isn’t easy. It takes commitment, focus, discipline, character and sweat! Changing your body doesn’t come from just wishing, you actually have to get off your butt and make it happen. Start by talking to a nutritionist and a trainer.
Don’t forget to play. When its time to play, play hard! Sample all the foods in Hawaii; eat the fish you caught river rafting and wash it down with whisky; dance your butt off in Vegas. The gym will be there for you when you get home.
8. Do look at yourself in the mirror. Check yourself out. Count 10 things about yourself that you like then make a mental note of the one thing you are going to attack this week in the gym. Write your weekly goal on the mirror in dry erase pen or lipstick and then look at it every day before leaving your house and again before you go to bed. Did you do what you needed to do today to reach your goal?
Don’t get on the scale. It’s an unfaithful, dirty cheating liar. Instead, put on your favorite pair of pants every week. Pants never lie. Pants are the Old Faithful of progress if you have been true to your fitness program.