For those of you who are regular readers of this magazine, you’ll recall the first part of this series ran in the last edition. As we go to press, I am at the end of my 90-day complimentary membership at Life Time. While I haven’t made radical transformations, I have made significant progress with my fitness goals and learned about common misconceptions that were holding me back from achieving my goals.
As an editor, there is a lot of thought that goes into every word that shows up on these pages. I chose the word “journey” for this series in the headline because fitness truly is a journey. There are “ups” and “downs” and twists and turns. Even in a short window of 90 days, I’ve had setbacks but overall, I am more fit than I was when I started. My skeletal muscle mass has increased and my body fat percentage has reduced by almost 2 percent. Although the scale hovers around the same weight, there is no doubt that my body composition has changed. Here’s five things I attribute these results to:
1. Don’t skimp on calories.
I undergo a resting metabolic assessment which provides me with a lot of data points. First of all, for my activity level I am undereating. I’d say I eat roughly 1,200 calories daily but my personal trainer, Nick Cerone explains that this is essentially helping my body hold onto fat aka those stubborn five pounds that we all want to shed. He wants me to increase my calories to almost 2,000. I am dumbfounded and think that this is going to backfire but I put my trust into him and wait to see what happens.
2. Pass the protein, please.
In order to increase skeletal muscle mass, Cerone explains that I need to eat close to 100 grams of protein a day. Again, I am skeptical and frankly mystified as to how I am going to achieve this. He suggests I keep a food diary to track my protein intake (and calories) on myfitnesspal.com which is free for this purpose. I’ve had to rethink a lot about food. So now instead of reaching for Special K cereal and a banana for breakfast, I’m more apt to have Greek yogurt and berries plus granola or an omelet. It is all about nutrient-dense foods that will fuel my workouts. This has been by far the hardest part for me and most days I do not reach my protein goals but it is something I continually strive for.
3. Aim for full-body strength training moves for efficiency.
Cerone likes to have me do moves such as lunges with overhead press using free weights or goblet squats with a dumbbell instead of moves that work on a single area like tricep dips. “Doing a full body exercise makes the workout more efficient and increases the amount of muscle tissue used at one time which increases calorie expenditure. This ultimately leads to more weight loss,” Cerone explains.
4. Get out of your comfort zone and mix up your fitness routine.
For years, I have tried yoga with no success but during my onboarding session I am urged to try ROOT or SOL especially since I need to improve my flexibility which is key for runners. During these cold winter months, I love the fact that they offer hot yoga.
I take a class with Stacy Bergman and she says something that really resonates with me- “be thankful for the almosts.” She explains you may be struggling with a move or position but have gratitude that you are trying and getting there slowly. She also explains at the beginning of class that as soon as we get on the mat, we are in a judgment-free zone. I like that as I feel pretty foolish and clumsy doing simple moves like tree. I am definitely incorporating yoga at least once a week into my fitness routine.
5. There will be setbacks and obstacles.
That’s all part of the journey. Just as I was hoping to kick my fitness routine into high gear as 2020 started, everyone in my family, including me was sick. I didn’t do a bit of exercise for ten days which for me hasn’t happened since giving birth. I can’t beat myself up over this. I know obstacles are just around the corner whether it be caring for a loved one or battling weight gain in middle age, they will happen. So, I slowly eased my way back to the gym and continued on my journey one lunge at a time.
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