By Bentz Tozer, Jr., B.S., CPT
Is That Stuff Good Stuff?
As the winter season comes to an end, thoughts often turn to spring and making more healthful choices. Many people make decisions to lose weight, start exercising regularly or just begin living a more healthful lifestyle. At this time of year, there are all kinds of fitness and diet products being marketed to the public, but how do you know if the newest fad is actually a good idea? Let’s first look at what to avoid.
The cookie diet, the grapefruit diet, the maple-syrup diet – we’ve all heard of these. Any diet based on eating one food, or in some cases, one drink, is not a sound diet plan. The human body needs a variety of foods to thrive, including vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthful fats. Avoid diet plans that involve cutting out entire food groups.
Shoes that tone legs and yoga pants that increase fat burning sound too good to be true, right? That’s because they are. There are no miracle outfits to help you get into shape. The best way to tone and shape your body is to eat well and exercise consistently.
There are lots of products on the market today claiming to “cleanse and detox” the body. While it may sound like a good idea to lessen winter bloat by drinking a detox tea or taking a “bulking” supplement, the truth is that your liver and kidneys already do a great job. If you feel a little sluggish, or have gained weight over the winter, the best thing to do is make a fresh start. Begin drinking more water, commit to a regular exercise plan and start incorporating healthful, quality foods into your diet. These changes will improve your health just as quickly, if not more quickly, than any cleansing or detox plan.
So what should be included in a sound fitness plan? As mentioned, good nutrition is essential – eat a variety of quality foods, like vegetables and lean proteins. But what about exercise?
The key to a successful exercise program is customization. This means an exercise plan that is personally tailored to you, one that accommodates your fitness level, is well-organized and safe. A quality exercise program includes both cardiovascular activities and strength-flexibility training. It is important to include activities that incorporate all components of fitness – balanced programs ensure the best results.
Basic Principals to Follow
Commit to regular exercise three to four times a week. It is also important to be consistent with eating well and sleeping seven to eight hours per night.
To improve your fitness level, gradually increase the intensity of the exercise. This could mean extra repetitions in your strength-training exercises or increasing cardio workouts from 30 minutes to 40 minutes.
Participate in a variety of activities to prevent boredom and to keep your body continually progressing instead of plateauing.
In order to keep increasing your fitness level, you must continually challenge your body. Focus on increasing the work load and intensity during each exercise session and over the course of your program.
It is important to allow the body to recover after an intense training day, which should be followed by an easier day, or a rest day, for that muscle group. Another way to accomplish this is to alternate the muscle groups being trained. For example, focus on the muscles of the upper body one day then lower body the next.
One of the best ways to ensure you are following a sound fitness program is to consult an expert. A professional fitness coach or personal trainer can customize a total wellness program that includes both nutrition and exercise. After an evaluation, a professional can create a plan tailored for you to help you achieve your goals.