Nothing quite beats those exciting first weeks of making a major change to your life. Especially when it’s for the overall improvement of oneself. Maybe you’re deciding to take your fitness in hand and start a new workout regime. Maybe you’ve decided to try a new diet and alter your eating habits. And maybe… Just maybe, you’re smart enough to know that you likely need to do both in order to reap the rewards from either. Maybe.
It’s safe to agree that every person is different. Everyone’s bodily functions are basically the same, when you get right down to it. But each and every one of us will respond to different things in different ways. This is why certain fad diets will appear to have greater results for some people than others. And those are usually the ones you see advertising the product or diet. But I digress. The same can be said for fitness routines. And I’m not talking about preference. I’m talking about results. Maybe you prefer to lift weights but you get more results from doing cardio. That kind of thing.
I harp on diets quite a bit, because I subscribe to the fact that it isn’t so much what you eat. It’s how much of it. The number of meals a day isn’t as important as total calories consumed. This means that all the fad diets out there (and I’m hesitant to bash them by name or brand, for obvious reasons) really don’t do shit for you, unless your body’s system requires something specific that may be provided by the diet. Granted, if the average adult consumes between 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day, I wouldn’t recommend eating 2,000 calories worth of cake. Or butter. You’ll do damage to yourself in ways I can’t explain because I’ve never been stupid enough to try it. Not least of which is to wonder how that would affect someone with Diabetes. But anyway, moving on! I’m not a doctor, so take this in with grain of salt.
It’s pretty important that there be a balance between your eating habits and your fitness goals. If you’re typically a non-active person, you may start to notice some negative side effects if you suddenly jump into a new and increased fitness routine. This is especially true if you don’t alter your eating habits to keep up/accommodate whatever physical activity you undertake. If you start working out 3 to 5 times a week without increasing your caloric intake or altering your overall diet and eating habits, you could experience symptoms like fatigue, irritability, weakness, dizziness and crankiness. Not to mention that if you don’t include proper hydration in there, that’s a whole other ball of wax. The same can be said if you try to diet without any physical activity. You may be eating better/healthier but you may not see any noticeable results because the HUMAN BODY NEEDS TO MOVE!
It can occasionally be rough waters to navigate; especially if your fitness goals involve weight loss. The average person has this belief that eating less means fewer calories, which means loss of weight. In truth, the human body is designed to do everything possible to keep you alive and functioning. This can lead some people to actually gain weight. The idea behind that statement, is if you’re running hungry through most of your day your body will recognize that it doesn’t know when you’ll feed it next and will double down on storing the extra calories for later. Guess what? All the extra calorie storage? That’s called fat.
So what can a person do to ensure they’re doing it right? Well, there are a number of things that one can do and a number of professionals that you can get involved, such as a nutritionist/dietitian, personal fitness trainer and especially your family doctor. Any and/or all of those people can help get you on the right track for your goals. Have you ever purchased a workout DVD (do people even buy DVD’s, anymore?) and noticed that it practically always says, “Don’t start any new fitness routine without first consulting your family physician?” There’s a reason for that. Maybe your specific medical history conflicts with what the workout would have you doing and cause injury or put you at risk.
A dietitian or nutritionist can help you by providing nutritional information, meal planning and eating habits that can help you make the most of your workout without making yourself sick. Picture yourself doing Cross Fit after eating at a Chinese buffet. Not the greatest idea, right? Sometimes, we all need a bit of guidance to do things properly. Fitness trainers, especially if they’re certified, can help you find fitness routines that fit your lifestyle, body type and can accommodate medical conditions that could hinder you or put you at risk.
Lastly, you need to hydrate. This is true whether you work out or not. The human body needs water. If you do a heavy workout in the summer heat, you need to be mindful of hyponatremia,which is a condition where you sweat out all your mineral salts. It can cause headaches, nausea and loss of balance. I’ve had it a couple of times, when I’ve gone cycling in the hotter weather. In those instances, you need electrolytes and mineral salts and you can drink water until you die, it won’t make a great deal of difference. Wow, don’t I sound like the harbinger of death… Bottom line is, stay hydrated.
The take away lesson here, despite how long-winded and wordy I tend to get, is that if you start a new workout routine, be prepared to alter your diet to accommodate. Maybe there are vitamins and minerals you simply aren’t getting enough of. Maybe you need to ACTUALLY eat three balanced meals a day. Be prepared to adjust, and remember that any fitness or dietary changes you make may be slow in showing results. Proper health and fitness is a marathon, not a race! ☯