We have a close family friend who has struggled with her weight for a good portion of her life. Brenda has "tried" a lot of things to slim down, but for some reason, never really has been successful. This last go-round of attempts included an exercise program. Brenda claimed that she went to the gym 3 times a week for about an hour and a half each visit and that she incorporated weights and cardio. She hates exercising and yet, she has maintained this regimen for the better part of a year. Unfortunately, much like her other attempts at losing weight, this too has not been successful.
After asking Brenda a couple of questions to gauge what she was doing while she was at the gym, it became clear to me that Brenda was in a state of delusion...delusion about what she wasn't doing. Stories like these kill me. Why? Because people like Brenda think that the act of physically going to the gym means that there will be results. The truth is, it really isn't that simple. Just like the 'Lose Weight in 5 Minutes a Day' or 'Burn Fat While You Sleep' schemes...if it sounds too good to be true, it is. It takes more than five minutes a day of exercise to really see results, it takes more than sleeping to burn fat and it takes more than just 'showing up at the gym' to see the physical benefits of an exercise program.
Delusional mindsets are the biggest saboteurs of fitness programs. Being realistic and cognizant, however, can be a fitness program's best friends. So what falls into the realm of delusion? Here are five typical symptoms of workouts that will not be effective:
- Passive Participation: Showing up to the gym is a great starting point, but what you do when you get there is what will actually dictate how effective your workout is. If you take a class, don't stand in the back of the room half-_ssing your way through the routines. Get up front and really try. And if you are working out alone, hold yourself accountable. Focus and put your full attention and energy into making the workout productive.
- Catatonic Cardio: I see it all the time: people moving on cardio equipment at an extremely low intensity or at a snail's pace. The point of cardio is to work your heart at an intensity of 65% - 85% of your maximum heart rate. In other words...it should be challenging. If you are doing aerobic training and you are 1) not breaking a sweat or 2) capable of holding a full conversation easily, you need to amp up your workout.
- Fast and Furious Fitness: We all have days when we can't fit in a full workout, but if you don't put in enough time regularly, you are counteracting anything you ARE putting in. You should aim to get in 30 - 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in each time you workout.
- Fair Weather Fan: If you don't exercise regularly enough, you aren't going to see results. Plain and simple. If you go one to two times a week, your body isn't getting the exercise it needs to get stronger and healthier. The reality is, you should aim to get in at LEAST 3 days of cardio and at LEAST 2 - 3 days of strength training each week.
- Wimpy Wimpy Weights: Strength training's purpose is to strengthen your muscles. If you don't challenge them, you won't be strengthening them. If you are lifting weights and you can do more than 15 repetitions of an exercise without any difficulty, you need to increase the weight to get any benefits out of the exercise.
- Nutrition Negligence: Finally, no matter what exercise program you are on...no matter how hard you work out...if you don't eat right, and you neglect a healthy diet, you are completely negating all of the hard work you are doing when you do exercise. Be sure to eat a healthy diet that is rich with nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Do you know anyone who is delusional about their exercise program? Have you ever had any of these 'symptoms'?