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Psyched Up, or Psyched Out?

I have known quite a few people who get so psyched up to get healthy by lifting weights and training in other forms that they end up doing nothing. There are indeed some people that need to smack themselves or ram their heads into a wall to get psyched up, but for many people that can have negative effects.

Raising your blood pressure to high before you workout can zap energy and even put you in danger. Warming up your muscles and getting your heart rate into a proper zone is fine, but that should never raise your blood pressure to a high level. Also flexing too hard or for too long will zap your muscles of the energy they need, taking away from your actual workout. Long story short: ATP is energy when for your muscles, and if you strain for too long you use up your ATP. If you do not have it when it is time to lift, you are robbing yourself of a good workout.

Psyching yourself up can often be done be conjuring up names and faces of those that anger you. I have pulled good amounts of weight on the deadlift doing this, but I noticed that I was completely useless after about thirty minutes of activity. A rush of anger can be good if you need only a burst of energy, but for anything long-term (1 or more hours) I suggest letting the anger go. Besides, the gym is for letting go of the anger, not letting it continue to consume you.

Psych yourself up, but do not psych yourself out for a workout. Remember that a warmup is to get you warmed up, not to get you burnt out. If you have anger you are dealing with, let it fuel your workout, but do not let it burn you up all at once, or you will not get the most out of your workout.

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Knowing is Only a Fraction of The Journey

I am sure you have heard the term “damned if I do, damned if I don’t.” Well forget it, because it does not apply here. When it comes to eating right and exercising you are potentially damned IF YOU DON’T. But it is not enough to simply know, you must also practice that knowledge. There are those who will talk about over-training as being the “damned if you do”, but if you are questioning whether you should eat clean or workout, chances are over-training is not an issue for you.

It is easy to wake up some mornings and to not be in the mood to eat healthy. In the middle of the work day has got to be the hardest time to resist a comfort meal, and after work is a close second. Still, unless you are exactly where you want to be weight and bodyfat wise, even one high-fat meal can damn you if you do. Especially if you are eating a diet where certain things are kept at a minimum, introducing very high levels can cause your body to hold on to the excess. When your body becomes efficient at burning a lower amount of something, adding previous amounts can have negative effects. Exercise is no different.

Skipping just one workout, especially when you go to the gym 3 times a week or less can have negative effects. When I skip a workout I notice that my bench press is not as good as it was the previous time, whether I am lifting less weight, or less reps. The body gets conditioned to a certain level of stress and activity, and to maintain benefits gained, you must make sure to keep your routine. That is not to say you should not vary your workouts, but you must stay active. “Move it or lose it” is a term that does apply here.

One bad meal can turn into a bad day, that can spiral into a lifestyle. If you have lost a large amount of weight/fat it can be really easy to let life’s stresses take you back to where you were. It is also very easy to be discouraged by declining performance in the gym if you miss workouts. That can cause some to give up on their workouts completely. Remember, you are only damned if you don’t, so make sure that when it comes to eating right and exercising that you always DO! And now that you know, remember that the important word in that sentence is DO!

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Does This Cheeseburger Make Me Look Fat?

I recently watched a documentary called “Fathead”. It was made to be the answer to the documentary “Supersize Me”, where Morgan Spurlock lives on nothing but fast food for a month to prove it is making people sick and fat. In Fathead, however, the subject eats fast food to prove that one can lose weight doing that, while following what many believe about healthy eating can actually make one fat.

It is an interesting watch, but I found it hard to discern the point of the film was: endorse fast food, bash what many think about healthy eating, help people debunk myths, or just make a bit of money for the film’s maker? It may be a combination of those things. It is easy to see from our politics that it makes sense to have two guys pretend to be mad at each other for the sake of those of us who are entertained by such trickery. Vince McMahon himself could not put on a more convincing circus, but now I’m changing the subject.

I would recommend watching the documentary in order to get an idea of what is true and false when it comes to diets, weight loss, and health. If nothing else, there are a few things in the film that will make you nod your head. I have found that to be a sign of great intellect, especially when the index finger is placed at the chin. The part where he shows the fast food he has eaten that day, followed by a calorie intake that is below 2000 calories on the day is certainly something that, if accurate, would be a good talking point for anyone who at least preaches moderation, if not abstinence.

If you have seen the documentary, I would like to know what you took away from seeing it. Perhaps your interpretation is a bit more developed than mine, and you could point out to me the point the film’s maker was making.

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Get Strong and Stay Strong

After you have made the decision to get in shape, remember that you must keep your mind focused. After the hype and the excitement fade, you are going to have to have a strong mind and will in order to get past the food cravings, the lazy days, and the times where it seems that you are no longer progressing. These things will present themselves, as well as the negativity from those who do not understand why you would work so hard for something as virtuous as building your body.

When the average person is out at happy hour eating thousands of mg of sodium, thousands of calories in snacks and drinks alone, and enough cards for a week, stay strong and take your mind to the place where your visions of your success dwell.

Once you do this, your goals will be attracted to you rather than you having to chase them. The mind can bring the best out of the body, but the body has no power over your mind.

 

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Mind and Body Connection

Exercising is indeed a physical endeavor, however the mind plays a much more important role than many realize. Our bodies are not as fragile as we believe, yet once we have an idea of how many reps or how far we can run, it seems our bodies give out at that time. Give yourself a chance to push your limits and your body will respond.

I recently went for a run after years, and I was never an avid runner to begin with. There were inclines and declines and it was a hard surface. I ran ½ of a mile in around 5 minutes, which for me was something I really had not done when I weighed 175 lbs. I recently lost weight, going from 282 lbs. in February to now weighing 225 lbs.

After a short distance my mind said I was ready to stop because my body felt tired, yet I convinced myself to continue until I went around and met up with my family who was walking on the same trail. After I decided that I was not going to stop until I reached that goal, my body did not feel quite so tired and I made my goal. It is the same thing in the gym.

When we decide that we are going to do a certain number of reps, it seems we are always exhausted or at least done with the exercise when we hit that number. For me there are times where I know I could have kept going, but because I reached the number I decided on, I quit. The issue is that the only way to reach new levels is to push the ones you already are on. And the way to do that is mainly through the mind.

The body will never convince the mind that it can do more, but the mind can surely convince the body that it is capable of doing more. This is important to remember when confronted by negativity from others. The surest way to fail is to leave yourself open to negativity. Once you have it in your mind that something cannot be done, it will not be done. And remember that most people that will tell you that you cannot do something are those that failed, or have not tried at all. Instead, speak to those who have tried and succeeded. Once you see one person can do it, you will know it is possible. And if you have the right attitude you will only require that something be possible, not that it be easy. Results speak far louder than words.

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If It Was Easy Everyone Would Do It

This is a little motivation that can be translated into any situation you have going on in your life. Fitness tips will return on Monday.

 

The road to where you truly want to go is going to be hard, and at times seem like the wrong road. But if you know in your heart you are doing the right thing, working hard, and keeping faith, it is the right road. Most of us have things that we would do for free, and would really enjoy getting paid for. Chances are they are things others would also do for money. Who would not like to be in a movie, tour as a musician, or catch a pass in the NFL? Even people with no talent would like to make big money for ‘playing’.

If you are one who finds mollecular biology, brain surgery, or chemistry a fun hobby you would and could do for free; you probably do not have trouble getting paid to do those jobs as they are in high demand with not a whole lot of people to fill them. For those of us who wish to do something like writing, or radio, or other such things the news is not quite as good. Again even talentless people would love to do those things. And because there are so many bums out there using the excuse that they are ‘trying to be a writer’, it is no wonder the genuine among us have such a tough time getting into it. But there is hope.

Before someone will pay you to do something, they want to know if you can do it well enough to benefit them. Since you enjoy whatever it is you do, it should not be too hard to do it for little credit or pay. Eventually someone may notice you and ask you to do it for pay. Do not expect to approach someone and ask them to pay you for your work; do the work until someone notices how well you do it for free. Then they will be approaching you, offering to pay you for what you do.

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Build Muscle to Burn Fat

If you are trying to lose weight, you are no doubt aware that there are major benefits to cardio workouts. The wisdom seems to always have been that the more cardio you do the more weight you lose. And while there is some truth to that, there are flaws as well.

Cardio training is important for multiple reasons: endurance, health, and weight management. However too much cardio can be detrimental to muscle mass. It is especially important to not do too much cardio right after weight training. Understanding the importance of weight, or resistance training for weight loss should be understood too.

Cardio training, such as jogging, walking, biking, and other modes can do wonders for weight loss. Getting your heart rate going and building up a sweat will help you shed pounds. But you must understand heart rate zones to get the most benefits from your cardio workout.  See my previous article, Cardio Training: Get in The Zone, for more information on heart rate and zones. It is very easy to chug away and not realize that you may not be in the correct heart rate zone to meet your goals.

Cardio workouts, again, are good for weight loss. The problem is that weight loss will include muscle loss as well. If you are looking to burn fat, doing too much cardio will hurt you because it will burn muscle, and the less muscle you have, the less efficient your body is at burning calories and fat. Also the composition of your body will change, and though scale weight may go down, you may look flabby if your weight is not comprised of an adequate amount of muscle.

Resistance training, contrary to popular misconception, will not automatically make you bulky. Dedication to diet, training, and possibly supplementation are required for any significant gains in muscle size. However proper resistance training will not only burn calories, but will change the composition of your body, and make the muscle more efficient at burning calories even while at rest. And body composition is more important when it comes to how one looks than scale weight alone.

For this reason you should try to avoid doing more than 25-30 minutes of cardio after a resistance training session, or an hour any other time. This is because cardio will put your body into a catabolic state, where tissue is eaten. Once you have gone through your carbs and fats, your body will start to burn proteins. After you have done your resistance training, it will not take you very long to get to the protein burning phase, and your gains from resistance training will be jeopardized. On days when you do not do resistance training, your stores of carbs will be higher, giving you more to burn through before proteins are targeted.

Resistance training is not only for those looking to bulk up. Muscle is very efficient at burning calories, even at rest, and the more you have the better your body will use the calories you put into it. Remember that lean muscle will do this, not simply big muscles. Also having muscle will make your body look better than simply having a low body weight. Think of a distance runner vs. a sprinter.

If you are going to do cardio, remember that heart rate is the most important issue, and to be sure you are doing the right cardio for your goals. Fat loss is far more beneficial than simple weight loss, as weight loss can be comprised of fluids and muscle too.

 

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