Fitness

MORE Than a Physique

So many times we place a large emphasis on exercising to lose weight, or get thinner, or see a certain number on the scale. But exercising is about so much more than that.

Exercising, like getting enough sleep, is good for the mind. It increases blood flow, improves neuroplasticity, and releases endorphins that have the potential to help with stress, depression and anxiety!

As many of us know, movement like aerobic exercises, gets our heart rate up and also helps our brain to grow. The benefits may achieved with as little as three work out sessions per week, allotting about 35 minutes for each session.

It is important to do exercises we enjoy doing. If we are forcing ourselves to do a work out we really do not enjoy, the likelihood of us continuing will be very low. However, if we do something we enjoy, it is probable we will continue to get the movement we need for the benefits described above.

It is also important to start out somewhat “easy”, yet challenging. We do not want to leave the gate full throttle, only to lose our endurance and eventually fizzle out well before we ever hoped. We want to progress from one effective point to another. We want to view our exercise regimen as a marathon, rather than a sprint. Moving smart and efficiently.

Some may be wondering what types of exercise to do during the challenge, while others may know exactly what they are going to do and are ready to go. The majority of us desire to grow physically stronger, and some of us would like to see some degree of fat loss. For others, this challenge is more about making healthier food choices and focusing on spiritual growth. All this is GREAT!

Growing stronger physically typically requires some form of strength training combined with a bit of excess calories to feed the muscles and allow them to grow. Where having a fat loss requires a bit more cardio combined with some strength training and reduced calories. It is difficult to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously. It is possible though, with carb cycling. A Google search on “carb cycling” will yield great resources for this method, if interested.

Are there specific combinations for our goals? Yep! Here are some recommendations:

A. If you plan to walk most days, and looking for little to no muscle definition with low body fat, at a slow and easy rate, your nutritional intake should primarily focus on protein, veggies, nuts and oils throughout the challenge. Limit fruit to one per day, after the walk.

B. If you plan to do some activities and plan to do HIIT training a 1-3 days a week, and looking for little muscle definition with low body fat, at a moderate rate, your nutritional intake should also primarily focus on protein, veggies, nuts and oils throughout the challenge. Limit fruit to one per day and after your activity or HIIT session.

C. If you plan to do weights or HIIT 3-4 days per week, and are looking to have some muscle definition with low body fat at a moderate pace, your nutritional intake should primarily focus on protein and fatty meats, veggies, starchy veggies (like peas, squash or sweet potatoes), nuts and oils throughout the challenge. Be sure to time starchy veggie carb around your workout. On the days you don’t workout, resources for this method, if interested.

D. If you plan to do weights or HIIT 5-6 days per week, and looking to have good muscle definition with low body fat at a fast pace, your nutritional intake should look the same as plan C, but you will have a couple extra days to take advantage of HIIT and muscle building.

E. If you plan to do heavy free weights 4-5 days per week, and looking to have great muscle definition with low body fat at a very fast pace, your nutritional intake will also look the same as plan C. However, with heavier free weights you will be creating a hormonal shift which will help build muscle and burn fat more efficiently.

F. If you plan to do heavy free weights 4 days a week and HIIT 2 days a week, and looking to have great muscle definition with low body fat at a very fast pace, your nutritional intake will look the same as plan C. You will be mixing building with shorter cardio sessions.

If some of these combinations were new, I would suggest beginning with walking three to four times per week, to start. If already established in the fitness realm, continue on with your regimen, yet challenge yourself. Also, if the first few days are extremely challenging and you just feel "off", don't beat yourself up if you just walk on those days. You want to feel physically well during this commitment, more intense exercise can come after you get into the "tiger blood" the program promises :)