I know what you’re thinking. Madame, it’s “Thick Thighs, Thin Patience.” Get it right. Yes, the quote is “Thick Thighs, Thin Patience” but a healthy and happy body only comes with patience and time.
Every January 2, the gym is flooded with newcomers who are trying to fulfill the most typical resolution ever: live a healthier lifestyle. Then after a few weeks, a high percentage of these newcomers are too sore, take a few rest days, and suddenly find themselves forgetting about their membership until the next bill comes.
Sound familiar? The good thing news is there are ways to stick with your resolution of living a healthier lifestyle outside of a gym membership! After a semester-long indulgence in the lush life that resulted in a massive twelve pound weight gain and terrible skin, I decided it was time to return to healthier habits as well. I’m definitely not a professional trainer or nutritionist, but the changes I’ve made have been working well for me. While I try to stick with my new habits, I hope my tips can help you become the healthier versions of yourselves as well!
Do not blindly follow a friend’s workout routine or one off the internet! Not everybody’s body is created the same. Therefore, you must either modify an existing routine or create the workout plan that works best for you. For example, I have disproportionate hips, lower back issues, and weak knees. I cannot blow through routines that include high numbers of squats and lunges without modifying them or I will end up hurting my joints instead of strengthening my muscles.
If you are looking on the internet for workout plans, I suggest trying out some routines and adjusting the intensity through weights or numbers of reps as you slowly build endurance and strength over time. Otherwise, you can consult a friend (or personal trainer if you wish) who is experienced with fitness and can actually create a plan that targets your specific goals through cardio or anaerobic exercise. Then type it up, save it as a PDF, and store it on your iBooks app if you have an iPhone for easy access at the gym like I did with my “Spring Break Body Workout Plan” which you can read here. After your body is used to one routine, you can create a whole new one to target something else.
No matter what happens, STICK TO IT. It gets easier over time. Pinky Promise.
Gym Etiquette and Mindset
The gym is practically a sacred place. If you think about it, people go here to build themselves up, especially when they’re at their weakest. Not only are they sweaty and in the least cute attire, everyone else can watch them struggle to improve their performance. I suggest putting metaphorical blinders on at the gym. Don’t distract yourself by looking for the cute guys or girls. Don’t try to compete with the person on the machine next to you. Don’t gawk at someone using a complicated machine you’ve never seen. (If you’re curious about how to use a certain piece of equipment, Google Image search it.) Instead, put those earphones in, blast your music, and focus strictly on your own workout goals. It doesn’t matter who is staring your way. Ignore them. Other people’s stares or workout routines are not yours. Render them irrelevant. It’s harder said then done, but I promise you will see incredible results.
Preworkout and Protein Powder
I’m not the biggest expert in this field because I prefer to not use either. All I know is most guys I am friends with put their magical fairy dust into their Blender Bottles and rave about how swole they are. The only thing I have to say is if you choose to use preworkout, be careful and responsible. If you aren’t, you will legitimately feel your heart falling out of your chest due to the overdose of caffeine. Do not be fooled by it either. If you know your body has a limit, don’t chug preworkout to try to push it. Instead, take the right dosage and slowly work towards new limits. It takes time and patience, but you will get there legitimately if you do not rely on a bunch of chemicals.
If you are new to working out routinely, look into group classes to get your endurance up! They are fantastic for beginners because you can modify your range of motion to better suit you. Most gyms offer Zumba, weightlifting, cardio kickboxing, yoga/pilates, and core workout classes. If you’re looking for an entertaining cardio workout or something to help burn 500+ calories or to replace a HiiT (high intensity interval training) routine once in a while, cardio kickboxing or Zumba classes do the job perfectly. You can even invite a friend along for motivation or simply so both of you can werk it! And if you aren’t able to pay extra for classes, you can also look into exercise programs like Shaun T’s T25 Workouts or visit Tone It Up here on YouTube for great routines.
Let me make something extremely clear: crash diets do not work. Not eating/barely eating at all (eating under 1200 calories a day when you’re working out daily) also does not work. If you deprive your body of nutrients it needs to build muscle and trim fat, it is going to store everything you feed it as fat and retain it in your mid-section. You will also easily bloat and shoot up in weight when you return to eating normally. To avoid disrupting your body’s metabolism, adjust your diet in the following ways:
- Fuel your body for working out. Have a small bite before every workout. Have a small bite of something with protein in it after every workout. But, do not consume carbs, sugar, or high-fat foods immediately after a workout!
- Don’t avoid proteins or fat. Protein is needed to build muscles. Believe it or not, fat is healthy for you too! There is good (unsaturated) fat and bad (saturated) fat. Good fat comes in forms of avocados, milk, coconut or olive cooking oil, and nuts. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, find a way to incorporate something with protein in it into your daily diet.
- Do not cut a food group out of your diet. It’s all about proportions. You need the nutrients that carbohydrates, dairy, and proteins give you. If you know you love your carbs a lot, try to practice self-discipline and curb your intake to a normal and healthy amount. If you know you love candy, allocate a small amount each day. Avoiding things you love just makes everything harder and less pleasant. You’re allowed to enjoy life!
- Drink a minimum of 4 water bottles a day. If you know you tend to binge eat, drink a lot of water before a meal. Oftentimes, you’re actually thirsty rather than hungry.
- Avoid excessive or unhealthy snacking. If you must snack, try something that is filling but low in calories such as fruit, mixed nuts, carrots dipped in hummus, or multigrain crackers dipped in guacamole, or even reduced-fat cheese sticks.
- Meal prep if you can, and avoid eating out often. This ensures you do not cave to a Chipotle run with your friends. This also helps ensure that you consume the right nutrients daily. Furthermore, it’s much cheaper.
- Track your daily calorie intake on your phone. I use the MyPlate app which tracks my water intake, my daily weight change, calories burned, and calorie consumption of three meals and in forms of snacks. This helps me see what nutrients I’m putting in my body at what time of the day, motivating me to snack less and eat wholesome meals.
- Stop eating 2 hours before your anticipated bedtime. Let your body digest and sleep peacefully. Going to bed with a full stomach can sometimes also disrupt sleep cycles.
- Don’t skip a meal. You’re going to overeat at your next meal and feel overstuffed.
- Limit your alcohol intake. A glass of wine has 100-120 calories. A cocktail has 140-170 calories. A serving of beer has 154 calories. A shot has anywhere from 94-110 calories. Knowing this can help you limit excessive intake while preventing you from getting out of control drunk.
The key to reaching your health and fitness goals is being consistent with your healthy eating habits, your workouts, and your sleep cycle. In order to keep with it, you have to stay motivated no matter how tough the workout is, how tempting the bag of chips are. These are the top few things that have helped me stay motivated:
- Buy quality workout clothes. Not only does working out in proper attire motivate you to get your money’s worth, it also makes you feel better. Believe it or not, the difference between giving up and being able to push through that last set is fabric. The right fabric can whisk away sweat and ventilate heat properly so you don’t overheat when pushing yourself during a workout.
- Set a time-sensitive goal. This could be losing one pound a week or having sculpted abs by the time you go on your vacation to Hawaii next month. When you have the clock to remind you that there is no time for cheating, you will stay more motivated.
- Create a playlist for the gym. Nothing keeps you going like music that helps drown out thoughts and pump up your adrenaline!
- Avoid aspiring to look like someone who does not have the same body structure as you. This is crucial. There is no ideal body. If you are 5’2″ and well-endowed, don’t try to look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Not only are your bone structures completely different, your genes are not the same either. Be a version of yourself that you are happy with. And if you absolutely need someone to motivate you to stay fit, be sure it is someone with realistic and similar body structure.
- Don’t cheat. Don’t rush. This doesn’t mean don’t eat a burger or avoid all cookies. You’re allowed to eat those things in moderation! This also doesn’t mean you should go easy on yourself if you skip a few days at the gym. If you cheat on a set or your healthy diet every day, it adds up. If you rush and try to combine two workouts into one gym session, you’re only going to tire yourself out or not allow your muscles the time it needs to recuperate after a workout. Don’t do something that will deter you from your goal. Have self-discipline and you’ll be happier with your health you much sooner.
- Breathe. What keeps me from getting too tired in my sets is inhaling and exhaling at the right time. For example, if I’m doing a push-up, I will inhale as I come up and exhale as I go down. Your breathe makes a huge difference.
Remember that good things do come to those who wait. Sustainable progress and change don’t happen over night. Work hard and be patient. You’ll notice that as you keep at your workouts and a healthy diet, your body naturally stops craving sugar and unhealthy foods and you will sleep better as well. Don’t be scared if the numbers on the scale fluctuate or don’t decrease as much as you predict it will. Remember that being healthy has to do with how you feel and being fit has to do with your muscle’s strength and durability. Muscle weight gain is not bad at all! Most importantly, be happy with yourself and your body, even if you struggle to reach your ideal goal. A good mentality and a lot of self-love goes a long way in helping you stay healthy in mind, body, and soul.
With that, I’m off to eat some well-earned dessert! Reste forte, mes chéries. You can do it!