Reaching your fitness, health, and wellness potential can seem like an unclimbable mountain when we are at the bottom looking up, especially in the midst of Rochester’s cold, dark winter months.
The business side of the fitness industry has created infinite gadgets, gyms, diets, gear, fads, studies’, shakes, videos and photo-shopped images of professional fitness models into a sea of misinformation on what true fitness and wellness consist of and looks like.
For the average person struggling with health issues, emotional difficulties, weight gain, injury, motivation, etc., attempting to navigate and digest all of the propaganda is a good way to fail before we even begin; something professional trainers see all too often.
Well-meaning individuals seeking help often get discouraged at the start because of the unnecessary complexity presented by various programs and trainers. Often their goal is creating the perception that they have the magic prescription, and enticing the eager/ under-informed into throwing money at them. This is far more common than you think, but also very avoidable!
Progress in the beginning of anything is easy to come by. Any change in routine or diet triggers the body to react. Once we are past the initial response to new stimulus however, our progress, weight loss, strength gain starts to slow down (“plateau”). We may not know why, and the gimmick that we bought into doesn’t have a back-up plan, so we get discouraged. Often we try a different program which eventually leads to the same place, and around-and-around we go until we become certain that it’s US that is broken.
The truth is that many of the common training practices of the conventional ‘fitness industry’ are broken. Not you.
The path to health and wellness, true strength & conditioning, is not a complicated one. The fundamental truths of clean, basic eating and simple, intelligent movement will always be the most effective. Its not glamorous, it doesn’t promise 10-day results, and it isn’t easy, but it works for everyone. Every. Single. Time.
After the baseline goals are achieved, the next steps depend on each of us as individuals. Whether we want to lose a few more pounds, lift heavy weight, get ourselves out of a physical or emotional rut, compete in a sport, it all starts in the same place: Our minds!
Lasting change starts with both need AND want, and enough of both to get us to act! Once we choose an intelligent path and begin walking it, progress will follow, and each little piece will help motivate us to keep going further.
The key to continued progress is sticking with simple, proven strategies: Learning how to move correctly, then adding pace and weight, and regularly stressing the now-safe basic movements to the limits of our current abilities. If we do so in a specific, mindful way, the body will build strength and improve in all areas.
Example: We can do 200 really fast, sub-par, half-squats every day and never see any real change, OR we can do 30 full-range, positionally sound squats while adding weight every week and see a huge difference in a short time.
This is the important turning point where a gym or trainer that has an understanding of body mechanics will far outweigh any new flashy gimmick that arises. Be selective. Almost every trainer in the world will tell you that they know what they’re doing; have them SHOW you. Have their other trainees show you. Progress, and the steps to reaching it, should never be a parlor trick.
First: Set small, simple, reachable goals, and as your skillset and confidence grows, set larger ones that challenge both body and mind so that you stay motivated and keep driving forward. Always be fighting for something!
Always: Keep fresh, real foods in the house; primarily vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. Prepare what you are going to eat ahead of time so that when you are hungry you don’t panic and make bad choices. Don’t go on fad diets, cleanses and fasts. Our bodies know how to detoxify themselves when given the nutrients they need and we will have more energy and clear-thinking ability when we are feeding ourselves plenty of clean food and not depleting the reserves.
Forever: Re-train your thinking to want clean food because it will make you feel better, and THAT’S what you want. If we say we can’t have something we will just want it all the more, so don’t sabotage yourself by keeping junk in the house. Make eating the “non-healthy” things you enjoy an occasion so it feels like something special! Eating whatever we want any time we want leads to one very specific result; we’ve all seen it, and none of us want to be it.
Our bodies are the vehicle in which we experience our lives. Doesn’t it make sense that we learn about it, take care of it, pay attention to what it’s telling us, and not leave it in the hands of someone just looking to profit off our need for help?
With the universe of information at our fingertips, take control and do a little homework to understand what makes you tick. We are all in different places physically and mentally, but can all benefit from taking the same simple first steps!
We all start where we start. The important part is that we actually do start!
Heather McAllister is the assistant training director and a two-category Subject Matter Expert at Wolf Brigade Gym- a world-renowned strength & conditioning brand headquartered right here in Rochester. She is available to the strong-minded for general private training, the best kettlebell lifting instruction in the region, and non-gimmicky nutrition assistance; Stop guessing, start progressing. She can be reached at overunde[email protected] and @overunderthruwellness on instagram