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Monthly Archives: May 2017

Overcoming Obstacles

Perspective. And also, according to him, there’s no mountain too high to climb. Tom would know. Paralyzed from the waist down since birth he’s now 33 and trains about three times a week. In fact, he tells me, he just couldn’t get along without exercise.

So in my quest for the last word on overcoming barriers in fitness, Tom sat down with me and together we came up with 3 basic principles that will help break-down fears and intimidations in reaching fitness goals.

(After all, if he can exercise on a regular basis, shouldn’t that be encouragement enough for anyone to give it a shot?)

Principle #1 Move into the Fear.

“Train you mind to believe no mountain is too high or any goal is too difficult to attain,” Tom tells me. Basically, it’s all about meeting your fears and facing them head-on.

In this principle, aim to recognize your fears, acknowledge them and then move through them. Ask yourself what is it that makes you uncomfortable? Have you let yourself get out of shape and are afraid you’ll never get back? Do you have an injury that’s caused you to be afraid of your body?

If you can visualize creatively, then you can put your fears in check. See your self as you’d like to be. Remember: your body loves you and has the potential to heal itself to perfection. Your only job is to trust it and listen.

Q: What is your body saying to you?

Principle #2 Trust Your Intuition.

It is important when overcoming obstacles and learning to break through barriers that you begin to listen to the still small voice of your body. In most cases, we all want the comfort of having someone telling us what we can and cannot do. However, our highest truth lies within us. This is not to say that the good opinion of others is not important, but ultimately the decision making comes from within.

When facing a challenge or an obstacle look to how you feel. What are your instincts telling you? Often it is simply your instinct that will move you into a new mindset and raise your consciousness.

“I wasn’t about to let the wheelchair stand in my way,” Tom tells me. In fact, he says he had to merely change his perspective about it. He says he first had to learn about what his restrictions were then, create a boundary for himself. “We all have boundaries,” he tells me. “Regardless if a person can walk or not, obstacles are as unique as people themselves. Therefore, it’s first best to know your boundaries.”

Ease Your Gym Fear

1. Book A Session With A Trainer. If not knowing how to use the equipment is what is stopping you, that is an easy fix. Just book a session with a trainer to help show you. They will help you learn the ropes, and before you know it, you will look like a pro.

One or two sessions with a trainer can make any beginner feel far more confident in going to the gym.

2. Wear Clothing You Feel Comfortable In. Next, be sure you wear clothing you are comfortable in. At the start, it is not about fashion. Instead, it is about function. Worry about how you look later. Right now, focus on comfort.

The more comfortable you are, the more confident you will be, and that is what most people will notice anyway.

3. Start Slow. It is important you start slow. The last thing you want to do when you first start at a gym is to try every piece of equipment and then find you cannot walk the next morning.

If you are learning a bunch of new exercises, try just doing two or three first. Get used to those and then add more to the mix. This will help to limit your post-workout muscle soreness and make going to the gym a far more positive experience.

4. Get A Training Partner. Finally, consider getting a training partner. Going with a friend to the gym is a fast and easy way to feel more comfortable and take the pressure off you. When you are with someone else, it will not feel like everyone is watching you (which, chances are, they are not anyway!).

Spice Up Your Workouts

A simple definition of Interval Training is: short, high-intensity exercise periods alternated with periods of rest. These higher and lower intensity periods are repeated several times to form a complete workout . Here’s a basic example: walk for 5 minutes at 3.5 MPH, walk for 1 minute at 4.2 MPH and then repeat this sequence several times.

Most people spend their workout time only performing continuous training exercises. These are exercises where the intensity level is basically constant throughout. An example of this is walking at 3.5 MPH, at 0% incline for 30 minutes.

Continuous training is very effective and should not be eliminated from your weekly workouts. However, it’s recommended that you include both Interval Training and continuous training sessions as part of your fitness regimen.

Why should you include Interval Training? As previously mentioned, there are many benefits to this type of training and execution is relatively simple. Interval Training can help you improve cardiovascular fitness, increase speed, improve overall aerobic power, burn more calories, break-through a plateau, increase workout duration, reach new exercise levels, expand your workout options and increase your workout threshold – just to name a few.

Plus, this training method has useful applications for beginners, intermediate exercisers and even conditioned athletes. There are two basic types of Interval Training. For the majority of exercisers (novices and intermediate) Fitness Interval Training methods are recommended. Athletes can choose a more advanced technique known as Performance Interval Training.

The Fitness training method utilizes periodic increases in intensity. Typically the higher-intensity levels range from 2-5 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity periods that also range from 2-5 minutes. And, a critical element in Fitness Interval Training is determining the appropriate level for the higher-intensity periods. This level should not exceed the anaerobic threshold (which is usually reached below 85% heart rate reserve).

On the flip side, the Performance training technique involves periods of near maximal or even maximal intensity (e.g. >85% heart rate reserve – even reaching 100%). The higher-intensity levels can range from 2-15 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity periods that also can range from 2-15 minutes in duration.

Don’t let the two types of training and their ranges confuse you. Incorporating Interval Training methods into your exercise routine is actually quite easy. Since the majority of exercisers fall into either the beginner or intermediate category, we’ll focus on getting started with those techniques.

To begin, choose the type of exercise: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc. Next determine your lower-intensity level. This is usually somewhere between 50-65% target heart rate. This will be your baseline, lower-level intensity. Then simply increase the intensity-level up to where you feel like you are working hard to very hard, but avoid reaching a level over 85% target heart rate. If monitoring your heart is not feasible, instead use the RPE scale where 1 is basically at rest and 10 is working extremely hard. For example, if you find that when you are exercising at a comfortable level you rank a 5, then bump up to a 7 for the higher-intensity intervals.

You may choose to systematically raise and lower your intensity (e.g. 2 minutes lower intensity followed by 1 minute higher intensity and repeat) or you can alternate more randomly by raising and lowering the level at your discretion. To increase your intensity, you may choose to change the speed, incline, or some other variable.

Interval Training can be especially helpful in situations where you are trying a new form of exercise. For example, this can be very beneficial when first learning to jog. If you attempt to jog continuously without building up to it, you will probably fatigue quickly and even give up. However, if you begin with intervals of walking interspersed with jogging periods, the workout will be much more enjoyable and effective. Also, you will be more likely to stick with the program and achieve the end result – continuous jogging.

Fitness For Energy and Vitality

One of the most important factors that I always stress to people is to think about their workouts in the long-term. For instance, my idea of working out is for life, not a thirty-day quick fix. I want to be able to move my body and stay strong my entire life and the best way to do that is to think of the long-term benefits of working out.

I am not trying to lose thirty pounds under any kind of time frame, I am not trying to push myself to the limit in every workout, I am simply focusing my energy into the movements that I perform each day and reach a rep goal – I have a rep goal for every workout.

If you are focused on losing weight and you want to lose say ten pounds in the next thirty days then this puts an enormous amount of pressure on you, you will feel stressed when it comes to your diet and your workout because you know if you get it wrong then you won’t reach your goal.

It is so much better to lose that weight over a longer period of time. This takes the pressure off of you, you won’t have to keep pushing yourself in your workouts until you feel exhausted just to try to lose some more pounds. That is not the right way to train, you will feel de-motivated and fatigued after your workout.

Training below this level you will still reap the rewards of your efforts and you will feel refreshed and alert, energised and happy. Feeling like this and you will actually begin to look forward to your workouts rather than dread them.

You only need to add 1 or 2 reps in each workout. You will progress slowly and steadily without expecting too much of yourself. It is far better to err on the side of caution when pushing yourself and leave some energy in the bank ready for your next workout rather than risk an injury which can set you back for months.

Training like this will give you more confidence in yourself, you aren’t in competition with anyone but yourself, so there isn’t any point in trying to kill yourself in your workouts. Leave enough room in your reps so you could complete another two reps before reaching complete failure.

I am not saying take it easy, you must test yourself in every workout that you do, but leaving those 2 reps will give you an edge, it will leave you with energy and make you feel great after your workout. You will be much more likely to look forward to your next workout rather than dread it.