How to Spot Fitness Scams!

There are countless ads bombarding us with the latest product, workout regimen, or supplement that’s going to solve all our problems and give us a body all will envy or desire.

How can you tell when they’re full of it?

Is this offer realistic? Meaning, does it make sense to you that the product or service can deliver as promised? “So I just take this pill and that’s it?”

“I wear this metal-infused ornament and that’s all I have to do?”

It’s tempting to want to believe that getting a great body only requires one simple action, but it’s just not true. It’s never been true. It will never be true. You don’t have to do a million things to get in great shape, but you will definitely have to do more than one.

 Is the price reasonable for what is being offered? “I can look like the people in the ads for just 3 easy payments of $29.99?!” There isn’t a direct market where you can exchange x-dollars for y-body (yet). But I don’t want to see you throw your money at someone who’s only giving you empty promises in return. You can spend as little or as much as you want for your fitness. Whether that’s value or not is something only you can decide.

 Are the people in the ads super heroes? The vast majority of us will never look like super heroes. Frankly, most of us won’t really want to. I’m not knocking the models/actors in the ads. They work very hard to achieve that look. Do you really want every rippling muscle and throbbing vein visible on your body? If you do, that’s great. Understand it will take a ton of focus, dedication, and time.

Most of us want to look better, feel better, and be healthier.

Does the time frame make sense? It’s a staple of marketing to lead you to believe that “yes, you too, can look like this in only 30 days”. Maybe it’s 21 days or 90, you get the point. If you look closely, you’ll note there’s always a disclaimer along the lines “results not typical”. Basically, you can be a millionaire if you play the lottery and win like these people in this ad; it’s possible but you probably won’t win. Further, it’s one thing to get into amazing shape for one day or one week, but can you sustain the results over time. Quick fixes don’t last.

Essentially, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. It’s a lot easier to feed into your hopes and vanity than it is to tell you the fundamentals of health and fitness. They’re extremely good at crafting the message to play to your emotions. The fundamentals are rarely sexy. Chances are, you already have a pretty good idea what the answer is. If you eat mostly whole foods and include at least some daily activity in your life, you’re setting yourself up for long-term results.

 

 

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We’re already at the halfway point of 2018. It’s a natural time to evaluate and adjust. Are you still on track for your goals? Maybe you’ve already accomplished some and you can move on to the next ones.

If you haven’t, you’re probably frustrated. Perhaps you’re about ready to quit. Here’s your pep talk. It can be summed up in two little words: Keep Going.

You’re looking to make big changes? It’s going to be a challenge. There are countless excuses you can use to give up on yourself. Your reason why has to be loud enough and powerful enough to drown them out.

I repeat the “don’t give up” message often precisely for that reason.

If you’re not where you want to be yet, you definitely won’t get there by quitting. You wanted to drop 20 lbs. by the start of summer, but you’ve “only” lost 12? That’s still progress. You’re moving in the right direction. We can’t always control the pace of achievement, so try not to worry too much about it. We want to reach our goals as fast as possible but if takes you the rest of 2018 to hit that 20 lb. mark are you going to look back in disappointment? Of course not.

Keep Going.

Speaking of summer, you’re no doubt dealing with all kinds of distractions. Things like social gatherings and vacations will tempt you to stray from the path. If people like you enough to invite you places, you should go and have fun. Having fun means enjoying the company and yes, the food and drink. You can indulge in moderation without undermining your progress. That should be the goal! If you feel like being fit is about never eating or drinking certain things, I disagree. You should be able to go to a barbecue, have some ballpark food, or try something new on your vacation. That doesn’t mean you have to go all out and shovel everything in sight down your gullet.

You want a burger or a slice of cake? Awesome. Do you really need 3 though? Okay, on some rare occasions, you just might.

Living a fit life is about making good decisions about food and exercise most of the time. You don’t have to strive to be perfect.

Now, for a little tough love. If you want to maintain your progress, you’re still going to have to eat well and workout. A few days or even a week off from training because you’re on vacation is great. Relax, rest and recover. And when it’s time to get back to working out, get back to training.

But “it’s too hot to workout” is almost always you just being soft. Don’t give in to that excuse. Get up, go workout. Dress appropriately for the weather and drink plenty of water. And most of all, remember:

Keep Going.

 

One Thing

What’s one thing you can do today to make yourself better?

(It doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to fitness, but obviously it could be.)

Of course, I’m going to say go work out. Lift, run, swim, walk, dance, etc. We were built to move. It doesn’t have to be marathon session. If you haven’t been active recently, it doesn’t make sense to try to go all out. Even ten minutes of an activity you enjoy can have positive benefits.

Read. Fiction, non-fiction, professional development, or entertainment, it doesn’t matter.

Relax. Meditate. Daydream. Think.

Big things are usually the result of small efforts to improve, done consistently over time. These are just a few ideas. What’s yours?

The Upside of a Fitness Plateau

You’ve been making gains and then all of a sudden they stop and you’re stuck. What happens now?

 You made a decision to get in better shape. You began a mission to shed some flab and build some muscle. Sure, you’ve started this path other times but this time it’s different.

 You diligently stuck to your plan. Your workouts and nutrition were on point and you hit them consistently.

 It took a little while but then you started seeing results. Your sweat and discipline were paying off.

 Your clothes are getting a little looser. You notice some more definition in your arms. The scale is moving in the right direction. You spend just a little more time in front of your bathroom mirror. Even people around you compliment your transformation.

 And then the progress just stops.

 What you’ve been doing isn’t working any more. Everything was going so well and now, for weeks, nothing’s changing. You’re stuck. You must work harder right? Less food! Longer training! That has to be the answer, right?

 No, not quite. First, take a deep breath. Relax. It’s not time to run yourself into the ground by adding hours more at the gym and dropping your food intake by half.

 Plateauing is normal. It’s part of the process of transforming your body.

In fact, it’s kind of a good thing. Seriously. Don’t roll your eyes.

 Reaching a plateau is a sign you’ve already made some progress. It means your body has reached a new normal state that’s an improvement over your old normal state when you started. Sure, it’s not where you want to be. That’s okay, you’re not done.

 Ask yourself this about this new plateau:

Do you feel better than when you started?

Are you happier with your appearance now than before?

Can you do more things?

Are you stronger, faster, fitter, more flexible?

Are daily tasks easier?

Do you sleep better?

Has your confidence improved?

  Even though we all want progress to be linear and straightforward, it’s not. It’s a jagged graph with some periods where you’ll feel you’re just running in place.

 A plateau gives you the chance to reflect and adjust. Often you may be in one for a few weeks and you’ll have a breakthrough if you just keep doing what you’ve been doing. I wish I understood exactly how that works. Sometimes it just takes a little more time sticking with your plan to start seeing results again.

 Maybe it’s like driving on one of those straight roads out West. There’s a giant mountain ahead of you and hour after hour it doesn’t seem to get any closer, until suddenly you’re there.

 If you need to adjust, just tweak things a little. What you’ve been doing was working for a reason. Making a 90-degree change is more drastic than needed. Pick one thing and change it just a little. When you change several things, you may see some improvement, but you’ll have no idea why. Take one thing, tweak it maybe 5-10% and when it works, you’ll know there’s a high probability that’s the reason.

A few tweaks that can help: Try to manage your stress. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Drink more water. Focus on your form in the gym. When you’re lifting weights, change up your reps and sets.

 I won’t lie and tell you plateaus are awesome. They can definitely be frustrating. They’re also a sign you’ve reset yourself in a better place and there are more gains to come. Stick with it!

Your Mission…

Your mission today is to have a great workout.

  Hitting the weights? Good. Aim to knock out one more rep than you did last time or add 5-10 lbs. to the bar. Get your mind right and focus. That extra rep may not seem like a big deal, but that’s how you make strides over time.

  Do whatever you need to in order to be in the right frame of mind. Put in your earbuds and listen to music. Visualize the bar moving. Feel the muscles you’re working. See yourself with the strength and physique you want. Then go put in the work.

  Running? (or cycling, rowing, swimming, etc.?) Push yourself today. Look to shave off just a little bit of time or cover a little more distance. Visualize yourself with unlimited energy, great form, and most of all: fast.

When you’re done, make sure you eat, hydrate, and sleep in a way that supports your goals. These all need to work together for you to accomplish your goals.

  Progress doesn’t tend to happen in huge jumps. It’s the result of consistent focus and effort on getting just 1% better today than yesterday. You have that opportunity today (and every day actually). Don’t squander it.

Have an awesome workout! If you want to tell me about your workout, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment or email me!

Don’t Go All Out!

You might be thinking why would a fitness blog tell you not to go 100%?

There’s a time and place when I think you should, but I think that’s on a very rare occasion. If you’ve been training for a specific event (like a 5k or a powerlifting meet), when the moment to compete arrives, then by all means, go all out.

But if your goals are more general than a specific event, I think the best approach is to push yourself but don’t spend much time with the pedal to the metal.

Basically, the harder you push, the more you’ll have to recover. If you treat your workouts like contest day, then you’re not actually training, you’re testing.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with testing. It lets you know where you stand on a maximal effort.

But it’s not training. Say you go for your one-rep squat max and you hit a new personal record. That’s great you set a new PR. You’ve also taxed your muscles and nervous system. This is great if you were at a meet, not so much if your next session is in a day or two. You won’t be recovered sufficiently and your next workout will reflect it.

Training is building your capacity. You do that by stretching yourself a little bit at a time. Working in sub-maximal ranges allows you to do this without undermining your recovery.

A true one-rep maximum effort is going to tax you more than say a 3- or 5-rep max effort. Improving your PRs on sets of 5 means you’re getting stronger (and ultimately adding to your 1-rep max) while still allowing you to recover for your next workout in a day or two.

One way I like to think about it is comparing it to school. Testing for your max is like taking a final exam. Finals are a big deal (at the time) but it’s not actually learning. Your classwork, homework, and studying are when the learning happens.

You work on adding a little bit of knowledge and understanding while reinforcing what you already know. What this is for your brain is what train hard but sub-maximally is for your body.

Also like school, you can show up and go through the motions. Again, the results you’d expect this approach to have on your knowledge are comparable to what half-assing your workouts will do for your physique.

Beating this academic analogy into the ground just a little while longer: just like you need to make sure you’re well-fed and well-rested to do well in class, you need to do the same with your fitness.

And (last one, I promise), it’s also a good thing to take breaks. I’m not suggesting you take 3 months off from training in the summer, but your body definitely needs a bit of time away to fully relax and recover.

Okay, that’s it. You want to find out your one-rep max on the bench once every few months? That’s cool. But if you try to test it every week you won’t see as much improvement as you would if you just put in hard, sub-max work week after week.

Are We There Yet?!

You’re eating right and exercising but you’re not seeing any results? What should you do?

It’s so easy to get discouraged. You’re using discipline and making sacrifices and it doesn’t seem like there’s any reward. Not seeing results can be frustrating. It’s like the kid in the back of the car on a long road trip asking “are we there yet?” every ten minutes.

Keep going. Be patient.

There’s a lot that’s available to us almost instantly these days. Unfortunately, changing your physique isn’t one of them.

Whether you’re trying to shed fat or pack on muscle, please understand that it takes time. Not days. Not weeks. Think in terms of months or years.

“Stick to it even if you won’t see changes for a while” is a really tough sell, I get it. But it’s really the only way ‘cause there are no quick fixes that last. It’s tempting to compare yourself to others but that’s a recipe for disappointment. They’re never going to be you, you’ll never be them.

Find some support. We all have times when we question if we’re on the right path. Being able to share the moments of doubt can help you stay on track. It’s important to understand you’re not alone.

Work the plan. If you have a solid approach (appropriate calories, exercise, and recovery), it will work. But not if you get discouraged and quit. Following your plan consistently is how you get the results.

Relax. Getting stressed out is counter productive. You can’t directly control the outcome so don’t focus on it. Instead concentrate on the daily actions you can take to make that outcome more likely. It’s a subtle thing, but focusing on what you can do rather than what’s going to happen is empowering. Find the most enjoyable way you can to eat right and be active.

Use meaningful measures to track your progress. Understand that the number on the scale is going to fluctuate a lot. It’s one indicator, not the only one. There are several useful ways. Are you feeling better? Are you getting more capable? Eating better and being more active will improve your life beyond a reading on a scale. If you used to get winded going up a flight of stairs and now you can tackle several floors easily, that’s big progress. Are your clothes fitting differently? Perhaps the scale hasn’t changed much but your waistline is shrinking. Look for signs of progress.

We get to see the before and after pictures of people who’ve made big transformations. What we don’t see is the part in the middle, which is where most of the time is spent. That’s likely where you are right now.

Just keep going. You got this.