Friday, October 21, 2011
भाकपा यह सूची कल दोपहर को जारी कर देगी जिसे इस ब्लॉग पर भी प्रकाशित किया जायेगा।
Happy New Year! In this article, I'm going to predict your future and forecast exactly what kind of results you're going to get in the next 12 months. Sylvia Browne, step aside... I'm pretty good at this.
Several years ago, a public relations firm in New York City asked me to write an article for one of their publications about fitness trends and predictions for the coming year.
It turned out that my "crystal ball" was pretty darn accurate. I nailed most of the predictions I made about aerobics classes, yoga, core training, "holistic" approaches, online personal training technology, the baby boomer market, increasing obesity and many other subjects.
I do confess, it wasn't that difficult, because instead of just guessing, I actually did some research on industry statistics and I also had some "inside insights" because I'd been a health club manager for so many years and was privy to fitness business trends.
This year, instead of making predictions for the whole fitness industry, what if I could take out my crystal ball again and predict with 99% precision exactly what kind of results you will achieve with your body by the end of the year?
Well, no problem, I can do that too!
I would claim that I have some kind of "gift" for this, but to be honest, you and I don't need to be psychic to make predictions like these.
There are two things you can always count on: (1) Nature's laws of cause and effect, and (2) human nature.
On that basis, here are my 20 fitness predictions for the new year:
I PREDICT that if you can reach into your pocket on any day this year and pull out a card or piece of paper with all your body and fitness goals written on it in vivid detail, the odds are 95 to 1 in favor of you achieving every one of those goals before the year is out.
I PREDICT that if you focus your thoughts on your goals and how you are going to achieve them, all day long, you will reach your goals so fast this year, it will make your head spin.
I PREDICT that if you focus your thoughts on health woes and body fat problems and if you think about what you don't want, all day long, your problems will get worse than ever this year.
I PREDICT that if you made a new year's resolution, but you didn't turn it into a specific, written goal with a deadline and a strong reason why you must achieve it, you will freely abandon it the moment the going gets tough.
I PREDICT that if you can tell me all the reasons why achieving your health and fitness goals are important to you, you will be motivated from within to stick with it when the going gets tough.
I PREDICT that at times, the going is going to get tough.
I PREDICT that if you can tell me today what is your life purpose and what is your lifelong vision for your body and your health, you will still be as motivated and driven at the end of the year as you were at the beginning.
I PREDICT that if you don't have long term goals and a "big picture" vision for your life that you will lose your New Year's enthusiasm and motivation in a matter of months or even weeks.
I PREDICT that the way you see yourself in your mind's eye today will be an exact reflection of what you see in the mirror at the end of the year.
I PREDICT that if you have a setback that seems to get in the way of you reaching your health and fitness goals and you tell yourself "this just is temporary; this too shall pass," then it will pass and it won't set you back.
I PREDICT that if you believe the way your body looks today is out of your control and you feel helpless or powerless to change, you won't even make much of an effort this year.
I PREDICT that if you accept complete responsibility for the way your body looks today and you believe that you have the power to change, that you will take action and keep taking action, even through the tough times.
I PREDICT that if you're unhappy with your physical condition and you say, "it's not my fault" or you blame it on genetics, hormones or age, then your body will look pretty much the same at the end of this year as it did on New Year's day.
I PREDICT that the more you have patience, a long term perspective and the ability to postpone immediate gratification, the more likely you are to be a success one year from now.
I PREDICT that the more you seek "miracle pills" or "quick fixes," the more likely you are to be a failure one year from now.
I PREDICT that you will be tempted by many quick fixes this year.
I PREDICT that if you hang out with losers and negative people this year, you will become just like them.
I PREDICT that if you hang out with winners and positive people this year, you will become just like them.
I PREDICT that you will run into more negative people and losers this year than positive people and winners.
I PREDICT that if you recruit just one friend or support partner that stands behind you and the lifestyle changes you want to make this year, you will double your chances for success. If you surround yourself with numerous support partners, you will become virtually unstoppable.
So how does your future look for the year ahead?
Based on my "predictions," if it doesn't look as bright as you'd like it to be, then don't worry, because a prediction is not predestination.
You can't do anything to change the past, but by changing your thoughts, attitudes and actions in the present moment, the future is yours to create.
For most winters in New Jersey, it doesn't matter whether Punxsatawney Phil sees his shadow or not… After being dumped on with snow and braving bitter cold temperatures, and the ever-so-despised ice storms, with sidewalks of slush and streets as slick as skating rinks, it usually seems like winter will never end! And they call this place the Garden State? Anyway, I remember reading a news story about the Famous Pennsylvania groundhog, and that got me thinking… For most people, weight loss is a lot like groundhog day…
Why Weight Loss Is a Lot Like Groundhog Day
Before I became a full time author/writer and online publisher, I used to work in health clubs. For 14 years, I was a trainer and gym manager, and every January, there was a huge influx of new members.
Unfortunately, most of them were GONE by February! I swear this is not "urban legend," it's absolutely true – I used to print out the attendance records to prove it!
The attendance spike in January and the subsequent dip in February were unbelievable. So much for new year's resolutions.
Did you ever think about what the word "resolution" implies? If you look at the roots of the word, it comes from "resolute" which means a firm determination.
But here's something that most people – outside of the hypnosis or NLP fields – rarely consider: words carry certain associations and ambiguities, not necessarily related to their latin roots.
What I find ironic is that if you sound it out, "resolve" sounds like "RE-solve" as in: to solve the SAME problem again and again, and again and again.
Did you ever see that movie (1993), Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, where he wakes up every morning only to re-live the same day over and over again?
Well, for most people, this time of year is like "Groundhog Day for weight loss" – re-living that same 20 pound weight loss from past years, over and over and over again!
What could be more frustrating?
This year, isn't it finally time to stop that madness?
You can make it stick this year – all year – and keep your progress steamrolling forward for life… an unstoppable YOU. It simply takes a different approach…
Forget the old approach:
- Quick fixes
- Losing weight
This is the new, superior approach:
- Real goal setting
- Lifestyle change
- Burning fat & gaining muscle
People know that their resolutions won't stick, but rather than learning the art of setting real goals, they make resolutions again every year anyway.
They pursue the latest, trendiest, newest diet or workout fad instead of working on the admittedly boring, but effective fundamentals and proven principles.
They're focused only on quick results without a long term mindset of lifestyle change.
And… they're so caught up in the scale, that all they care about is how much weight they lose, not their all-important body composition (the muscle to fat ratio).
Thus, with the old approach:
- You temporarily lose weight and fit in smaller clothes, but you don't look good out of clothes – you're just a smaller but still squishy version of your old self… a "skinny fat person."
- You start out in a fiery burst of enthusiasm, only to burn out, sometimes in as little as a month, and gain back all the weight you lost… Where it sticks on your belly until next January, when you start the cycle of insanity all over again.
INSANITY: Continuing to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.
If you want to make a real change and make the change stick, it's time to change your approach.
A lot of people are talking lately about my "49- day body transformation" promise. Some people said, "49-days? Oh no! Has Tom started going the quick fix route like all the others?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
My fat-burning program, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle IS THE NEW APPROACH, not the old one, and there's nothing "quick fixy" about it.
With the results of one of our body transformation challenge contest just published, we have simply proven that you can use this approach to begin seeing extraordinary results in as little as 49 days (And we have the success stories and photos to prove it).
After 49 days, YOU DON'T STOP. That was just a short-term goal! You keep going – and it just gets better and better. You can keep using the program until you reach your long term goal, and you can keep using it to maintain your ideal weight for life.
Quick fix diets can't promise you that.
Here's the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle difference:
- Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle teaches you REAL goal-setting skills (the kind you can apply in your business, financial and personal life as well)
- Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle teaches you how to measure and track your body composition
- Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle is NOT just a 7 week program, it's a lifestyle.
Do calories matter or do you simply need to eat certain foods and that will guarantee you'll lose weight? Should you count calories or can you just count "portions?" Is it necessary to keep a food diary? Is it unrealistic to count calories for the rest of your life or is that just part of the price you pay for a better body? You're about to learn the answers to these questions and discover a simple solution for keeping track of your food intake without having to crunch numbers every day or become a fanatic about it.
In many popular diet books, "Calories don't count" is a frequently repeated theme. Other popular programs, such as Bill Phillip's "Body For Life," stress the importance of energy intake versus energy output, but recommend that you count "portions" rather than calories…
"There aren't many people who can keep track of their calorie intake for an extended period of time. As an alternative, I recommend counting 'portions.' A portion of food is roughly equal to the size of your clenched fist or the palm of your hand. Each portion of protein or carbohydrate typically contains between 100 and 150 calories. For example, one chicken breast is approximately one portion of protein, and one medium-sized baked potato is approximately one portion of carbohydrate."
Phillips makes a good point that trying to count every single calorie - in the literal sense - can drive you crazy and is probably not realistic as a lifestyle for the long term. It's one thing to count portions instead of calories – that is at least acknowledging the importance of portion control. However, it's another altogether to deny that calories matter.
Calories do count! Any diet program that tells you, "calories don't count" or you can "eat all you want and still lose weight" is a diet you should avoid because you are being lied to. The truth is, that line is a bunch of baloney designed to make a diet sound easier to follow.
Anything that sounds like work – such as counting calories, eating less or exercising, tends to scare away potential customers! The law of calorie balance is an unbreakable law of physics: Energy in versus energy out dictates whether you will gain, lose or maintain your weight. Period.
I believe that it's very important to develop an understanding of and a respect for portion control and the law of calorie balance. I also believe it's an important part of nutrition education to learn how many calories are in the foods you eat on a regular basis – including (and perhaps, especially) how many calories are in the foods you eat when you dine at restaurants.
The law of calorie balance says:
To maintain your weight, you must consume the same number of calories you burn. To gain weight, you must consume more calories than you burn. To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn.
If you only count portions or if you haven't the slightest idea how many calories you're eating, it's a lot more likely that you'll eat more than you realize. (Or you might take in fewer calories than you should, which triggers your body's "starvation mode" and causes your metabolism to shut down).
So how do you balance practicality and realistic expectations with a nutrition program that gets results? Here's a solution that's a happy medium between strict calorie counting and just guessing:
Create a menu using an EXCEL spreadsheet or your favorite nutrition software. Crunch all the numbers including calories, protein, carbs and fats. Once you have your daily menu, print it, stick it on your refrigerator (and/or in your daily planner) and you now have an eating "goal" for the day, including a caloric target.
Rather than writing down every calorie one by one from every morsel of food you eat for the rest of your life, create a menu plan you can use as a daily goal and guideline. If you're really ambitious, keeping a nutrition journal at least one time in your life for at least 4-12 weeks is a great idea and an incredible learning experience, but all you really need to get started on the road to a better body is one good menu on paper. If you get bored eating the same thing every day, you can create multiple menus, or just exchange foods using your primary menu as a template.
Using this meal planning method, you really only need to "count calories" once when you create your menus, not every day, ad infinitum. After you've got a knack for calories from this initial discipline of menu planning, then you can estimate portions in the future and get a pretty good (and more educated) ballpark figure.
So what's the bottom line? Is it really necessary to count every calorie to lose weight? No. But it IS necessary to eat fewer calories then you burn. Whether you count calories and eat less than you burn, or you don't count calories and eat less than you burn, the end result is the same – you lose weight. Which would you rather do: Take a wild guess, or increase your chance for success with some simple menu planning? I think the right choice is obvious.
"Common workout mistakes" has always been a very popular topic in fitness publications. But no matter how many times this subject is re-hashed, you almost always hear about the same half a dozen or so mistakes, including poor form, overtraining, going too heavy, not stretching, not warming up, yadda, yadda yadda. Ironically, you seldom hear about the biggest mistakes of all. I call these humongous bloopers "bonehead mistakes" because once you start to analyze and think about them, they're really just common sense and they all seem so obvious… except of course to the person doing it… who is often quite oblivious until someone else points it out to them... then the light goes on and it's like... "Doh!"
Before I begin the countdown, (in no particular order), there's one more gripe I have about the treatment this subject has been given in the past: Most of the attention has been put on the mistakes, but very little on the solutions. It's all too easy to point fingers and say, "Don't do that" and "Shame on you, dummy" but only 1% of your time should be spent on problems. 99% should be spent on solutions. So in that spirit, after I bring each mistake to your attention, I'll give you a solution-oriented training tip to help you avoid boneheadedness and join the elite group who "kick butt" in the gym at every workout…
Bonehead workout mistake #1: "Winging it"
"Winging it" means having no written goals or plans, no training journal and no way of "keeping score." It's when you just show up at the gym day after day and do whatever strikes your fancy, whatever machine happens to be available, or whatever you've become habitually accustomed to doing. Winging it is when you don't know where you are, where you're going or how you're going to get there - but you start your journey anyway – no compass, no roadmap. It's been said that "Action without planning is the biggest cause of failure," and I believe that statement is 100% accurate.
Kick butt workout tip #1: Develop a strategic plan
Successful people never "wing it," they always have a plan. Strategic planning is a never ending process and includes: Assessment (where am I now?), goal setting (where do I want to go?), creating a plan or strategy (How will I get where I want to go?), executing the plan (what action steps must I take daily to reach my goal?), and measuring results (how will I know if I'm moving towards my goal and how will I know when I've reached it?). Boneheads "wing it." Butt–kickers have a master plan and goals for every workout.- - - - -
Bonehead workout mistake #2: Repeating the same workouts… without progressive overload
In one respect, repeating the same workouts is important – it's called "continuity." Continuity means that to experience an adaptive response (more muscle, more strength, less fat and all that other good stuff), you must a repeat a certain modality or exercise consistently over a long enough period of time to allow the adaptive response to occur and to reap the full benefits (rather than changing exercises at every workout). That type of repetition is good. The bonehead mistake is when you do the same exercises, same reps, same weight, same everything, week after week, without ever challenging yourself to do more than you've done before. If your muscles could talk they would say, "Yawn…. Did that, done that, been there… we're just going to stay exactly the way we are… no need to get bigger or stronger today."
Kick butt workout tip #2: Strive to beat your previous workouts
Muscle growth and strength increases occur when you place demands on your body above and beyond what it has experienced in the past. Your body responds to this progressive overload by getting stronger in order to handle this type of demand in the future. Your objective at almost every workout is to set goals to beat what you did during the previous one. If you can't add more weight, it could be as simple as one more rep with the same weight or the same sets/reps/weight in less time. It could also mean one more minute of cardio, one level higher on a stairclimber, or half a percent steeper incline on the treadmill. Continuous and never-ending improvement is the name of the game.- - - - -
Bonehead workout mistake #3: Starving yourself
A calorie deficit is the only way to lose body fat. However, the caloric deficit must be kept small. When calories are cut too much, or held too low for too long, your body thinks you are starving and sets into motion a series of metabolic and hormonal events, which ultimately result in muscle loss, slow metabolism and plateaus. Your body is like a power plant or furnace and when you don't feed the fire, your metabolic flame dwindles to a flicker, producing less heat and less energy. That's why not eating enough is one of the biggest mistakes of all.
Kick butt workout tip #3: Eat more, burn more
Did it ever occur to you that if you exercise more you can eat more and that this is a more effective fat loss strategy than eating less and exercising less? To lose body fat, you must create a calorie deficit. A deficit can be created by exercising more, eating less, or ideally, with a combination of both. The best combination of all is a small decrease in calories accompanied by a large increase in activity. Think about it: Decreasing calories slows your metabolism. Increasing calories increases your metabolism. Exercise increases your metabolism.
Therefore, eat more, exercise more = double increase in metabolism. Eat less, don't exercise = double decrease in metabolism. This is the entire premise of my Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle System and that's why the program is so powerful and has helped tens of thousands of people lose fat without depriving themselves. Yes, starving is for boneheads.
Bonehead workout mistake #4: Skipping scheduled workouts
A great body doesn't happen overnight. Successful body transformation is the cumulative result of dozens or even hundreds of successful workouts. Each workout brings you one small step closer to your goal. Each workout missed takes you one small step backwards. Most people underestimate the cumulative effect of each small step. They figure that "It just doesn't matter… it's only one workout." If you don't think that one little workout matters, then think about the humble termite; they're such itty bitty little creatures and they take such itty bitty little bites, yet when enough little bites are taken, an entire building can come crumbling down.
Kick butt workout tip #4: Be disciplined and consistent
Not only do you slip backwards physically when you skip even one scheduled workout, perhaps more devastating is the effect on your mind and character. Every time you successfully complete a scheduled workout, you build your discipline and self esteem. When your self esteem increases, it makes you feel good and that stimulates a positive self-reinforcing cycle of even more discipline, confidence and action. Everything you do helps or hurts. Every workout counts. Treat your word as law. When you say you're going to work out... WORK OUT!- - - - -
Bonehead workout mistake #5: Focusing on strengths, favorite exercises and favorite body parts, neglecting weaknesses
Most people have a favorite body part or exercise. But playing favorites in your training can lead to big problems. An unbalanced, asymmetrical physique is one of them, but having a great upper body with toothpick legs is the least of your worries. Strengthening and stretching some muscle groups but not others is a great way to cause poor posture, muscular imbalance, dysfunction, strains, pulls, tears or ruptures.
Kick butt workout tip #5: Train for functional balance and aesthetic balance
Non-boneheads train every muscle group for symmetrical, visually pleasing development. However, "balance" is more than cosmetic. Everyone – athletes, bodybuilders, and recreational exercisers – must also train for functional balance to prevent injury and maintain optimal function and range of movement in every joint and muscle group. Every plane of movement and angle of movement must be trained. Flexors must be balanced with extensors. Front to back movements must be balanced with rotational and side to side movements. Prime movers, antagonists and stabilizers must all be strengthened. Always stretch, strengthen and build to the point of total body balance.- - - - -
Bonehead workout mistake #6: Using mostly machines and single joint/isolation exercises
So you joined the gym and you hit "the circuit"… you know, that section in the gym with all those fancy, chrome-plated, "technologically advanced" weight stack-pulley, hydraulic or computerized machines all lined up in neat rows… far, far away from the barbells and squat racks (which you never touch), and which is designed to give you an "easy, safe, injury-free, effective full-body workout." The machines may be easy, but most machines aren't as safe or effective as they're made out to be.
Kick butt workout tip #6: Use mostly free weights and compound, multi joint exercises
For lower body, squat and lunge variations are tops. For upper body, barbell and dumbbell presses, chin ups and rows are king. These and similar "BIG" exercises stimulate more muscle fiber, stir up more fat burning and muscle building hormones, and have more carry-over to real world and sporting activities than machines. Although weight stack machines are safe with respect to the fact that you can't drop a barbell on your head, they're ultimately NOT as safe as free weights because they don't develop the stabilizing muscles and functional strength that protect you from injury. A few machines and isolation exercises mixed into a balancedr program is fine, especially if you have bodybuilding goals, but focusing on compound and free weight exercises gives you far more bang for your buck than any machine ever created.- - - - -
Bonehead workout mistake #7: No mental preparation
This mistake goes hand in hand with mistake number one (winging it). You see, preparation is more than setting goals, writing out plans, and scheduling workouts. Preparation is also mental, yet most people haven't the slightest idea just how powerful the mind is or how to harness its power. Psychologists and "brain scientists" have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between an experience that is real and one that is imagined. Failure to take advantage of this discovery is a mistake of enormous magnitude.
Kick butt workout tip #7: Use visualization and mental rehearsal daily
Arnold Schwarzenneger, Jack Nicklaus, Andre Agassi and countless other sports legends have written and spoken extensively about their regular use of mental imagery. Those who succeeded, but claimed not to use such techniques as "visualization" were surely using it unconsciously or in a non-formalized manner. I would suggest you consciously and deliberately use this technique in the following manner: Twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, get relaxed, close your eyes and form mental images of yourself having the body you've always wanted, completing perfect workouts with motivation and enthusiasm and reaching all your goals. These images will penetrate your subconscious mind and literally program your brain to activate your body for total success.- - - - -
Bonehead workout mistake #8: Not eating immediately after training
Not eating anything after your workout (or waiting 2-3 hours to eat), because (a) you don't feel like eating, (b) you don't have anything to eat with you, (c) you heard that you get leaner if you don't eat after your workout… is one of the most boneheaded things you can ever do!
Kick butt workout tip #8: Eat protein AND carbs (not just carbs) immediately after your workout
Much research has been done on the topic of post workout nutrition in recent years and the scientific literature is almost unanimous in its findings: At one time carbohydrates were emphasized after a workout. Other people insisted that protein is more important. The truth is, the optimal post workout meal includes quickly digesting protein and carbohydrates and is consumed immediately after training during the period known as the "post-workout window of opportunity." Although the ideal amount and type of protein and carbs is still debated, the studies have shown that proper post workout nutrition increases protein synthesis, suppresses cortisol, replenishes glycogen, and enhances recovery.- - - - -
Bonehead workout mistake #9: Comparing yourself to others
Always trying to one-up the next guy is bonehead behavior. Comparing yourself to others is a great way to lower your self esteem and stay perpetually frustrated, unhappy and dissatisfied!
Kick butt workout tip #9: Compare yourself to nobody but yourself
Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden always advised his players, "Never try to be better than someone else; but never cease trying to be the best you can be. That is under your control. The other isn't." So why not focus on competing with yourself? Compare yourself to yourself. Improve yourself. Work on progress and forward movement. Become better than you used to be. Ultimately, competitive sports are most valuable to the degree you use them to better yourself, not to beat others.- - - - -
Bonehead workout mistake #10: Making excuses
Many people, when they don't get the result they want, or when things don't go the way they expect, insist it's not their fault. When they don't lose any body fat, it's their genetics or "The diet just doesn't work!" When they fall off the wagon, it's their friends and family's fault – "They just don't support me… they even tempt me with junk food and eat in front of me." When they miss workouts, it's their boss's fault – "I just don't have time with so much work being piled on me at the office." No matter what the situation, the boneheads never even consider that the problem is staring right back at them in the mirror – someone or something outside of them is always responsible.
Kick butt workout tip #10: Accept total, 100% responsibility for all your results – good or bad
When you win, you don't attribute it to luck or give someone else the credit for it. You proudly say, "I created it… I did it… that was me!" However, if you want to take the credit for your wins, you must also take credit for your losses and say, "Yep, I created it… I did it… that was me!" Boneheads want to take credit for their successes but not accept responsibility for their failures. Ultimately, that turns them into nothing but big losers. Winners and successful people became successful because they learned three magic words: I AM RESPONSIBLE. Once you claim responsibility for every result in your life – the good and the bad - the feeling of empowerment and liberation that comes over you is beyond description. For the first time in your life, you realize that YOU are in control. From that moment on – and not a second sooner – you become the creator of circumstance rather than a victim of it.- - - - -
Well, that's all ten of em'. Let me wrap up with what is perhaps the biggest mistake of all, and that is: Not learning from your mistakes. Mistakes are okay. The only people who don't make any are the timid, wimpy people who don't even attempt anything. If you realize you've been making a lot of these mistakes, don't beat yourself up. As long as you learn from them and then stop making them, you're off the hook! But if you keep repeating these mistakes over and over again, then it's official: You're a bonehead!
Good news: According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average amount gained is much more modest - just over a pound.
Bad news: A study by the National Institutes of Health found that this seasonal weight gain - even just a pound - is the kind of weight gain that most people don't lose when the holidays are over; it simply adds to the "weight creep" that "sneaks up" on you as you get older.
People often wonder how it's possible to wake up one morning at age 40 or 45 and "suddenly" they're 30 pounds fatter - or more - than they were in college. Mystery solved.
Of course, some people really do pack it on over the holidays, but whether its a pound or ten pounds, did you ever ask yourself why does holiday weight gain happen at all?
In previous years, I've asked my readers and here are some common answers I was given:
Holiday Excuse Survey Says…
"I'm too busy over the holidays to work out as often as usual."
"I'm more stressed over the holidays, and the food is there, so I eat more."
"I have at least three parties to attend and then there's Christmas and New Year's, so it's impossible to stay on a diet"
"No one can tell me not to enjoy myself over the holidays so I'm just going to eat whatever I want."
These answers all have a few things in common:
"Either/Or" Thinking and "Reverse Goal Setting" Exposed
First, they assume that you can EITHER get in better shape OR enjoy yourself, but not both. Stated in reverse: You can either deprive yourself of holiday enjoyments or gain weight, but it has to be one or the other. The truth is, "either/or thinking" is neurotic thinking and a great killer of fitness programs.
Second, these are all excuses or rationalizations. "I'm too busy" for example, is always an excuse, because I have never known someone who was too busy to make time for his her highest life priorities. We all have the same amount of time - 24 hours a day – the real problem is, most people don't make exercise and healthy eating a priority. And remember, words mean little. Actions reveal a person's true priorities.
Third, none of these are the real reasons most people gain weight over the holidays to begin with. The real reason is because an intention was never set for the opposite: To get in better shape over the holidays.
Most people set a "goal" to get in worse shape over the holidays. It's not consciously set, of course, as few people would intentionally set out to get fatter. They simply do it by default. In their minds, they accept that it must be just about impossible to stay in shape with everything going on over the holiday season, so why bother?
Rationing Lies For Holiday Failure
Once the decision has been made, then the rationalizing continues:
"Why should I deprive myself?"
"Family is more important"
"Worrying about diet and exercise during the holidays is neurotic"
"I don't care if I gain a few pounds, I'm going to enjoy myself anyway"
"It's only these two or three weeks that I let myself go wild"
"I'll start the first week in January and lose the weight then."
As a result of this "negative goal-setting," they expect to work out less, eat more and gain a few pounds, and they don't seem to even consider alternatives.
But what would happen if you…
SET A GOAL TO GET IN BETTER shape over the holidays?
What would happen if you decided that it was not an all or nothing proposition and that you could enjoy the holidays and all it has to offer and get in better shape at the same time?
And what if you decided that your health and your body were the highest priorities in your life, because you realized that can't enjoy anything else in life, including family or holidays, if you don't have your health?
Here's what would happen: You'd get in better shape!
I'm not all that different from you just because I'm a bodybuilder and fitness professional. I have many of the same problems, concerns and struggles as you do. Although today I always get in better shape between Thanksgiving and New Year's, that's a result of a conscious choice, a close examination of my old belief systems and a lot of action. For me, it all started about eight years ago.
For most of my adult life, I wasn't much of a traveler and I didn't enjoy flying or staying in hotels. For one thing, I had so many business commitments in the East Coast health club business, that I seldom left town for long, as I had to "tend to the stores." But I also had a belief that if I traveled, my workouts and nutrition would suffer. After all, "it would be hard to stick with my usual bodybuilding diet, and I wouldn't have access to my usual gyms", I told myself. For these reasons, I never did much travel..
Then I was forced to take some trips for business reasons. Predictably enough, my nutrition and workouts suffered while I was spending time in airplanes and in hotels. With my experience having confirmed my beliefs, I re-affirmed to myself, "See, travelling is nothing but a pain. You just can't stay on a diet and training program when you're out of town."After several more trips, I noticed that something very negative happened: I surrendered. I had resigned myself to "not bother" while I was on the road. I let my expectations create my reality.
But I didn't let it go on for long. As soon as I became aware of what was happening, I decided that I wouldn't tolerate it, so I challenged myself and my previous limiting beliefs. I asked myself, "Why the heck not? Why let myself backslide? Why even settle for maintaining? Why not challenge myself to improve while I'm traveling?" The answer was: There was no good reason, there were only excuses.
From that day forward, I set a challenge for myself…
To come back from every trip or vacation in better shape than when I left.
Of course there were exceptions, as when I went on a vacation for total R & R. But I never let travel get in my way again. I prepared food that I would eat on the planes so airline food was never an excuse… I usually chose hotels that had kitchens, so I could cook my own food. I went food shopping immediately after check-in. I wrote my training schedule and scouted gyms in advance… And I actually found myself training harder than usual.
No matter where I was training - it could even be some "dungeon" of a gym in the middle of nowhere - it didn't matter because my mind was focused on improving and looking better when I came home than when I left. I had a goal to motivate me!
What do you think happened? It's not hard to guess: I always came home in better shape than when I left.
Since then, my "travel challenge" has become somewhat of a ritual in my life. When I'm away from my "home-base" it becomes a "fitness road trip." I search the Internet or yellow pages or ask locals to help me find the most hard-core gym nearby wherever I will be staying (Gold's Gym works for me!) When I get there, I train every bit as hard as if I had a competition just weeks away. I look forward to it now. In fact, this is what led me to my "holiday fitness challenge" idea.
Like many people, I travel over the holidays, so I'm automatically in "travel challenge" mode at thanksgiving, Christmastime and New Year's. But with the additional temptations and busyness that the holidays bring on top of the usual travel stresses, I saw fit to declare a new challenge: "The Holiday Challenge." The difference was that for my "holiday challenge," I pledged to not only to return home in better shape than when I left, but to enjoy the holidays to the fullest at the same time.
People who think I deprive myself to look the way I do would be shocked: I eat like a KING over the holidays including Pumpkin (or apple) Pie at Thanksgiving and OF COURSE my mom's famous red and green Jell-O Christmas cake. Then on New Year's I'm usually toasting champagne and having a blast with friends or family….
The difference is, I don't eat like that very often.
Every other meal stays right on schedule and I work out hard and consistently over the holidays; I don't let everything fall apart just because 'tis the season.'
The idea that you can EITHER enjoy the holidays OR stay in shape - but not both - is wrong, it's damaging and it's limiting.
Life is not an either or proposition; it's a matter of balance.
Success does not mean going to extremes. Success can be a simple matter of re-examining your beliefs, rearranging your priorities, setting goals, changing the questions you ask yourself and re-evaluating your expectations.
Your expectations will become your reality. What are you expecting? Are you expecting success? Are you expecting to be in better shape after holiday parties, celebrations, banquets, dinners, and desserts? If not, then why not? What's preventing you from enjoying all of the above and still getting in better shape? Do you have a limiting belief which dictates that it's one or the other? Could it be that you never set a goal, intention or expectation to do it? Could it be that you're rationalizing or making excuses? If so, then I challenge you to change it this year.
As of this writing, there are less than two months until the end of the year. Why not see how much you can improve your physique over the holidays, without depriving yourself of any holiday enjoyments or festivities? Just step up your expectations. Step up your standards. Step up your nutrition. Step up your training. Step up your action. Step up and accept the "Burn The Fat holiday fitness challengeand see what happens!
That's right… The First Annual Burn The Fat Holiday Fitness challenge contest is open from Wednesday November 18th to Wednesday November 25th.
Over the course of a "50-Day Burn" which spans all three major holidays - Thanksgiving (US), Christmas and New Year's - you'll have the motivation, the accountability and structured program to end the year strong, start the new year on the foot and possibly get in the best shape of your life.
Even better, you'll be able to eat delicious Holiday Food and enjoy yourself to the fullest at the same time because this is a lifestyle program which allows your favorite foods in moderation and balance.
And the best part of all: I'm sending the winners of the contest to Negril Jamaica to show off their new bodies on the beach in 2010!
Taking the Burn The Fat Challenge is simple. You can enter the contest two ways:
In a surprising comment made during a popular UK radio show, the founder of one of the largest Pizza chains in the United States and United Kingdom told listeners not to eat too much pizza!
In an interview with host Adam Shaw on BBC's Radio Four program, John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's pizza, was asked whether he was concerned about the British government's recent actions in the fast food restaurant business to help put the brakes on obesity.
Schnatter said, "Pizza is actually healthy for you if you don't eat too much of it. You can't eat five or six slices but if you eat one or two slices it's very nutritious."
Laughing, Shaw replied, "I'm not sure your investors would want to hear you tell people, 'don't eat too much of our pizzas!"'
Across the web, bloggers and tweeters have been putting in their two cents. Some say he was a little TOO honest. Others say this was either the worst PR screw up ever… or the best PR move ever (you know what they say about "bad" publicity).
Although I wouldn't call pizza health food, I think his advice to eat pizza, but only in moderation was the responsible thing for a fast food owner to do at a time where obesity is reaching epidemic proportions, not just in the United States but in the U.K. and other countries as well.
Moreover, it was just plain good diet advice! One reason people are failing to control their weight is because of all-or-none thinking, i.e, "I can't eat ANY pizza EVER again!" or, "I have to follow my diet 100% or not at all."
In my experience, all or none thinking is one of the biggest causes of diet failure. It's far better from a psychological perspective to eat your pizza; simply enjoy it infrequently and in small quantities.
Think of you on a diet like a pressure cooker on a burner. The longer you keep that pot on the heat, the more the steam pressure builds up inside. If there's no outlet or release valve on that thing, eventually the pressure builds up so much that even if it's made of steel and the lid is bolted down, she's gonna blow, sooner or later.
Well, in the beginning, you might think your willpower is made of steel and that you're bolted tigher than a submarine hatch, but the longer you're on a diet with no relief, the greater the pressure builds up until YOU blow your top… and that means massive binge eating.
But if you let off a little steam in the form of a "free meal" (or two) and enjoy that slice of pizza (or whatever is your favorite 'poison') on occasion, that relieves the pressure. Alas, you never even feel the urge to binge… because you HAD your pizza and the urge was satisfied. Since the meal was planned and you kept the calories under control, it had little or no effect on your fat loss results.
This topic of conversation was prompted on the BBC radio show during a discussion about how the Pizza business was doing during the recession and about efforts to stem the growing obesity crisis in the UK.
Earlier last month, The Food Standards Agency in the UK started negotiating with UK food, pub and sandwich chains to display calories on their menus to try to provide education about healthier options for consumers who eat out frequently.
The move is similar to one made in New York City last year, where restaurant chains that have more than 15 locations must print calories on the menus. According to an article in the British Medical Journal, this has resulted in an average reduction of 50-100 calories for each food order. Not much, but at least it's something.
In the case of pizza, a 2.2 ounce thin-crusted slice of cheese pizza could have as little as 190 calories. One slice of "meat lover's" pizza, on the other hand, could set you back almost 500 calories! If you knew the difference, would it change what kind and how much you ate?
I'm totally in favor of posting calories on menus, despite the critics who say it won't make a difference. I think anything that raises calorie awareness is going to affect behavior in a positive way and help make for better food decisions. Whether it should be mandatory by law is debatable. I say, let the restaurants decide and then let the marketplace sort itself out.
I would be more likely to recommend or support the restaurants who opted to post calories, increase their range of healthy choices… and on that rare occasion, have a CEO who actually says, "Eat my food, but not too much!!"
Now, if we can only get those Mcdonalds's execs to say the same thing!
How would you like to learn how to gain weight fast? If the title of this article caught your attention, there is a good chance you are sick and tired of not seeing the weight on the scale budge. Most likely you just got home from the Mandarin buffet and still can't budge the scale. You could live on McDonald's and Pizza Delight and your Ferrari style metabolism would simply burn it off. In a world that is obsessed with losing weight – you are interested in gaining weight!
Are You Sick and Tired Of People Telling You How To Gain Weight?
It probably sounds like this:
"All you have to do is eat, eat, and eat some more to gain weight..."
"Weight gain is just a matter of eating..."
"You just gotta overload your metabolism to gain weight fast..."
"You can't build a house without the bricks and mortar for gaining weight..."
Don't throw me to the wolves quite yet. There is certainly truth to these statements and some of these analogies can prove quite powerful. I think I'm even guilty of preaching a few! But the problem with this advice is that it's usually followed up with the same old regurgitated blah, blah, blah advice that only tells you what to do and does not reveal real-world, practical how-to action-steps.
If you are someone who has struggled their entire life, trying to pack on extra muscle mass and still consider yourself underweight, then you are not alone. I was once skinny and underweight myself...
People, predispositioned to skinniness, are commonly referred to as "hard gainers." This is the cool way to label your scrawny frame despite the fact that your body turns into a Number 2 pencil when you wear yellow!
It's Not Totally Your Fault You're Skinny
In the skinny guy's defense, the reality is that you have been cursed with traits like Lamborghini-type metabolism, giraffe like limbs, and the strength of a senior citizen. You have to fight with every bone in your body to do something about your small frame and to keep up to your male buddies who seem to grow muscle just by sneezing – those muscle freaks piss me off just as much you!
Even though you might think your genetic deficiencies have sentenced you to a life of frailty and surprised looks when you tell others you lift weights, I am living proof that hard gainers with very 'muscle-unfriendly genes' can fight back against their genetics and gain muscle weight. I defeated my skinny genetics just after college and I am about to show you four tips that helped me climb from a 149 pound weakling to a rock hard 190 pounds in six months.
Trust me, no body has worse genetics for building muscle and gaining weight than an ex-long distance runner who abused his body with 60-80 miles of running a week (for over 10 years).
Skinny Guys Must Play By A Different Set Of Rules
If you are underweight, than your first step to gaining weight is to understand that you must play by a different set up rules. I have said this before and will say it again,
"Taking advice from someone who can gain muscle weight easilyis like taking money advice from someone who inherited a fortune or is making money illegally."
You must think outside the box and give up the excuse of being a "hard gainer." It is time to stop listening to all the naysayers who have told you that is impossible to gain weight because of your genetics. Regardless of what you have been led to believe, you do have the potential to build an impressive physique that turns heads and even intimidates!
If you have read this far, I am guessing you are ready to longer resemble a microphone stand! You are prepared to overload your metabolism for muscle growth, to ensure you are never referred to as 'underweight' or 'skinny' ever again. Start following these simple steps and don't be surprised if you gain an extra ten pounds of muscle weight in the next four weeks.
Simple How To Gain Weight Action Steps To Start Growing Like A Skyscraper!
1. Double It Up
One of the most practical steps you can take is to double whatever you are currently eating in the kitchen right now. If you are eating one chicken breast per meal, then cook up two. If you are only eating two slices of bread, then make it four. If you are eating one handful of nuts, then make it two. If you are using only two scoops of protein powder, then make it four.
Most likely you are only a few dozen meals short of filling out your underdeveloped body parts and attracting the attention of that sexy girl at your gym. I assume you are already in the kitchen and have the food out. So would you agree, you really have no good excuse not to shovel down a greater percentage of calories by doubling it up?
2. Live Your Life Around Food
Sure, you know that you must eat every 2-3 hours, but how well do you execute? Set your clock on a countdown timer to go off every 2 and ½ hours so that you reinforce the habit of eating literally not a second late for each meal! Don't turn off the damn beeper until you start chowing down.
Ensure you are eating your first meal within 15-30 minutes of waking up - absolutely no later. This first meal of the day should always consist of REAL food to flood your body with quality nutrients. I question anybody's commitment to gaining weight if they are too lazy to wake up 15 minutes earlier to eat a real meal.
Lastly, don't be surprised if you are not gaining weight if you do not find yourself spending more time preparing food, more time eating food and more time cleaning your kitchen. You should notice you are spending more time in the grocery store and you should also notice a larger grocery bill each week!
3. Use BIG Eating Equipment
If you want to bulk, then you have to eat like Hulk. Do you think Hulk eats out of a small plate, or a small bowel, or a small cup? If you are aiming to get big and huge, you are going to require large amounts of food, most likely close to double of what you are currently eating.
So get BIG eating equipment! Get a BIG cup, get a BIG bowel, and get a BIG plate. Surround yourself with BIG. Most of the time hard gainers are nothing more than "under eaters." If you struggle to complete a meal, then a bigger serving on a bigger plate will look small!
4. Never Train Hungry
How many times have you woken up, whipped up a protein shake and than headed off to the gym? Or maybe you had a long afternoon and missed a few meals and then attempted a weight training workout after work?
I thought this was common sense to avoid, until a few of my skinny clients confessed that they were showing up for their workouts having only eaten a piece of fruit and some crackers within the entire day!
After dropping the 45-pound plate on my foot out of shock, they reassured me: they were not hungry. I sometimes screamed back, "Yeah, that's because your metabolism is in starvation mode and shut right down, you skinny pencil neck!"
I understand that training in the morning is the only time for some, however, I recommend to aim for a minimum of at least three solid meals in your system prior to training. Or eat the biggest meal of your day immediately after your AM workout. Would you take your car out on a long trip with a half empty fuel tank? Not unless you wanted the car to die and you push it the rest of the way. So why would you take your body through a grueling training session on an empty stomach?
5. Eat Nutrient Dense Foods
Focus on caloric-rich foods that are loaded with nutrients. Avoid foods with empty calories, which means there is little or no nutrient value in the calories you are eating. Why would you consume a 500-calorie plus meal that is loaded with fat and sugar which does nothing but make you feel sluggish and soft? Instead, eat a high caloric meal loaded with slow releasing carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Here are some of the best choices:
Carbohydrates – Oatmeal, rice, breads, yams beans, potatoes, fruits and veggies.
Proteins – Steak, chicken, lean beef, cottage cheese, whole milk, eggs and salmon.
Fats – Olive oil, flax oil, avocados, nuts and peanut butter.
Extras (high calorie cheat food) – Ice cream, raisins, dried fruit and trail mix.
6. Drink A Carb And Protein Drink While You Workout
How hard is to sip on a calorie-rich drink during your weight training sessions? Simply mix up a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein with one liter of water and you instantly have a few extra hundred calories per day. Now have an extra workout drink before your workout and extra workout drink after your workout and that's easily an extra one pound per week. Only use this technique if you are weight training at a very high intensity.
7. Live the motto, "Never Stop Eating"
Did I hear you say, "But I'll throw up if I eat all day?" Maybe... Is it necessary? Of course not. But this is a part of pushing your body's threshold. Don't worry, you will get used to it and your body will require more food as you gain more muscle on your body and your metabolism increases. Just think that if you are not eating, then you are not growing, and if you are not growing then you are staying the same. Is that what you want?
There you have it and as I promised, learning how to gain weight fast is quite simple. Executing is a whole different story. It will really come down to how truly committed you are to defeating your skinny genetics and gaining the muscular body you deserve!
Here is my promise to you. You have the ability to gain at least another ten pounds of solid weight in the next four weeks by simply applying the advice above. If you are truly committed to your goals of gaining muscle weight and no longer being known as underweight, then I believe you will rise to the challenge and take action! Are you with me?
Legendary bodybuilding trainer Vince, "The Iron Guru" Gironda was famous for saying, "Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition!" But is this really true or is it just another fitness and bodybuilding myth passed down like gospel without ever being questioned? Which is really more important, nutrition or training? This IS an interesting question and I believe there is a definite answer:
The first thing I would say is that you cannot separate nutrition and training. The two work together synergistically. Regardless of your goals - gaining muscle, losing fat, athletic conditioning, whatever -you will get less than-optimal or even non-existent results without paying attention paid to both.
In fact, I like to look at gaining muscle or losing fat in three parts - weight training, cardio training and nutrition - with each part like a leg of a three legged stool. pull ANY one of the legs off the stool, and guess what happens?
In reality, it's impossible to put a specific percentage on which is more important - how could we possibly know such a number to the digit?
Nutrition and training are both important, but at certain stages of your training progress, I do believe placing more attention on one component over the other can create larger improvements. Let me explain:
If you're a beginner and you don't posses nutritional knowledge, then mastering nutrition is far more important than training and should become your number one priority. I say this because improving a poor diet can create rapid, quantum leaps in fat loss and muscle building progress.
For example, if you've been skipping meals and only eating 2 times per day, jumping your meal frequency up to 5 or 6 smaller meals a day will transform your physique very rapidly.
If you're still eating lots of processed fats and refined sugars, cutting them out and replacing them with good fats like the omega threes found in fish and unrefined foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains will make an enormous and noticeable difference in your physique very quickly.
If your diet is low in protein, simply adding a complete protein food like chicken breast, fish or egg whites at each meal will muscle you up fast.
No matter how hard you train or what type of training routine you're on, it's all in vain if you don't provide yourself with the right nutritional support.
In beginners (or in advanced trainees who are still eating poorly), these changes in diet are more likely to result in great improvements than a change in training.
The muscular and nervous systems of a beginner are unaccustomed to exercise. Therefore, just about any training program can cause muscle growth and strength development to occur because it's all a "shock" to the untrained body.
You can almost always find ways to tweak your nutrition to higher and higher levels, but once you've mastered all the nutritional basics, then further improvements in your diet don't have as great of an impact as those initial important changes...
Eating more than six meals will have minimal effect. Eating more protein ad infinitum won't help. Once you're eating low fat, going to zero fat won't help more - it will probably hurt. If you're eating a wide variety of foods and taking a good multi vitamin/mineral, then more supplements probably wont help much either. If you're already eating natural complex carbs and lean proteins every three hours, there's not too much more you can do other than continue to be consistent day after day...
At this point, as an intermediate or advanced trainee who has the nutrition in place, changes in your training become much more important, relatively speaking. Your training must become downright scientific.
Except for the changes that need to be made between an "off season" muscle growth diet and a "precontest" cutting diet, the diet won't and can't change much - it will remain fairly constant.
But you can continue to pump up the intensity of your training and improve the efficiency of your workouts almost without limit. In fact, the more advanced you become, the more crucial training progression and variation becomes because the well-trained body adapts so quickly.
According to powerlifter Dave Tate, an advanced lifter may adapt to a routine within 1-2 weeks. That's why elite lifters rotate exercises constantly and use as many as 300 different variations on exercises.
Strength coach Ian King says that unless you're a beginner, you'll adapt to any training routine within 3-4 weeks. Coach Charles Poliquin says that you'll adapt within 5-6 workouts.
So, to answer the question, while nutrition is ALWAYS critically important, it's more important to emphasize for the beginner (or the person whose diet is still a "mess"), while training is more important for the advanced person... (in my opinion).
It's not that nutrition ever ceases to be important, the point is, further improvements in nutrition won't have as much impact once you already have all the fundamentals in place.
Once you've mastered nutrition, then it's all about keeping that nutrition consistent and progressively increasing the efficiency and intensity of your workouts, and mastering the art of planned workout variation, which is also known as "periodization."
The bottom line: There's a saying among strength coaches and personal trainers...
"You can't out-train a lousy diet!"
No Pain, No Gain. Is this aphorism just a fitness myth and downright bad advice? A lot of people seem to think so. As a bodybuilder with 25 years of training experience and more than two dozen trophies on my shelf, I have another perspective to offer you. Success with your body and in every area of your life is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and that means embracing pain.
To reach high levels of physical and personal success you must approach your training, and your entire life, as an endeavor in constant growth. The ultimate truth is, you are either moving forward or moving backward; growing or dying. There's no such thing as comfortably maintaining.
To grow, you must step above past achievements; beyond your perceived boundaries and limits. That means stepping out of the known, into the unknown; out of the familiar and into the unfamiliar; out of the comfortable into the uncomfortable. You must get out of your comfort zone.
The Late Cavett Robert, who was founder of the National Speakers Association, said something I'll never forget: "Most people are running around their whole lives with their umbilical cords in their hands and they're looking for some place to plug it back in."
Most people are scared of the unknown. They prefer to stay in that womb of comfort. When the going gets tough; when the effort gets painful, when the work gets hard, they always pull back into safety. But the extraordinary people do the opposite. They know they have to get out of the comfort zone, and into new territory or they'll stagnate and die.
Walt Disney once said that he never wanted to repeat a past success. He was always creating something new. They called it "Imagineering." Disney's mission was to continuously dream up and create things they had never done before, and look at what Disney has become today.
Here's a little quote that you should post on your bulletin board, your computer desktop or somewhere you will always see it:
"Do what you always did, get what you always got."
You can't grow or change by doing what you've already done. You've got to train just to prevent yourself from going backwards. Maintenance doesn't occur when you do nothing, maintenance is working to fight entropy, the tendency for things to naturally deteriorate.
Still, most people won't leave their comfort zones. They won't do it in business, they won't do it in their personal lives. They won't do it in their sport. They won't do it for personal health and fitness. Why? The answer is simple… It hurts.
By definition, what's it like outside the comfort zone? It's UN-COMFORTABLE, right? Change is uncomfortable. Sometimes it's physically painful, but it's always mentally and emotionally painful, in the form of discipline, sacrifice, uncertainty and fear.
The maxim, "no pain no gain" gets knocked all the time as if it were bad advice. The fact of life is that you don't grow unless you' are constantly stepping outside the comfort zone, and outside the comfort zone is discomfort and pain.
I find that it's mostly the non-achievers who make out "no pain, no gain" to be a bad thing. But the winners get it. The champions understand stepping outside the comfort zone in a healthy context, so they embrace it.
When you're talking about the Olympics, or pro bodybuilding or the Super Bowl or a world championship, you'd better believe it's physical pain, it's discipline, it's sacrifice, it's blood, sweat, and tears - literally. But for most people who simply want to go from unfit to fit, from overweight to ideal weight, it's not so much about physical "pain"; it's more like stretching yourself.
How do you develop flexibility? What does your trainer tell you? You stretch to the point of discomfort, but not to the point of pain, right? You get into a position of slight discomfort and you hold it just long enough, then what happens? The discomfort goes away, because the muscle becomes more pliable, and the range of motion is increased.
Each time, you stretch a little further, just barely into the range you've never been in before, and eventually, you're doing the splits. And why do you approach it like that? Because you don't want to injure yourself. Stretch too far, too fast and your muscle tears.
The elite athletes and high achievers really have to push themselves; they're going to push their boundaries and test their limits. But if you're not an elite athlete or seasoned bodybuilder, and you take the advice, "no pain, no gain" too literally, you're going to end up getting injured.
I always say to my training partner when I watch him cringing during a set and he finishes up with that pained look on his face, "Are you injured, or just hurt?" He knows what I'm talking about. If he says he's hurt, I say, "OK, good. As long as you're not injured. Let's get on with it. Next set."
It's not about injury. That is bad pain. That is stupidity. But do stretch yourself. You can't improve unless you stretch yourself. If that's what some people want – if they just want to "stay fit" – OK fine. It actually doesn't take that much to stay fit, once you've already achieved it.
But what if you want to improve? What if you want a new body? What if you want to change? If that's what you want, you've got to push yourself a little. You've got to break comfort zones. And if your body is not changing, then I don't care how hard you think you're working, whatever you're doing right now is inside your comfort zone.
The statement "no pain, no gain" has been misinterpreted, criticized and labeled a fallacy by many. However, the people doing the criticizing are almost always comfort zoners who haven't achieved much. Don't listen to them. Instead, follow the small percentage of people who step out and achieve great things. If you don't like the sound of it, then say, "No effort, no gain." We're still talking about the same thing.
Embrace the discomfort like the champions do. Soon it subsides, you enjoy the benefits of the change and the pain is forgotten. You've reached a new, higher plateau of achievement. Enjoy the view for a short while. But be on guard because it's not long before that higher level becomes your new comfort zone and then its time to press on again.
Understanding the mind's role in motivation and behavior is one of the most critical elements in fitness success. If you struggle with changing habits and behaviors or if you can't get motivated, then even the best training and nutrition program is not much help.
A fascinating fact about your subconscious mind is that it's completely deductive in nature. In other words, it's fully capable of working backwards from the end to the means. You don't need to know how to reach a goal at the time you set the goal. If you "program" only the desired outcome successfully into your "mental computer," then your subconscious will take over and help you find the information and means and carry out the actions necessary to reach it.
Many people are familiar with affirmations and goal-setting as ways to give instructions to your subconscious mind. But perhaps the ultimate mental training" technique is visualization. In one respect, affirmation and visualization are the same, because when you speak or think an affirmation first, that triggers a mental image, being as the human brain "thinks" in pictures.
You can use visualization to plant goals into your subconscious mind. You simply close your eyes, use your imagination and mentally create pictures and run movies of your desired results. For example, in your mind's eye, you can see . If repeated consistently with emotion, mental images are accepted by your subconscious as commands and this helps with changing habits, behavior and performance.
Although there are some new and creative ways to use visualization, (which you are about to learn), this is not a new technique. Visualization has been used formally in the fields of sports psychology and personal development for decades and philosophers have discussed it for centuries:
"If you want to reach your goal, you must 'see the reaching' in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal."
- Zig Ziglar
"The use of mental imagery is one of the strongest and most effective strategies for making something happen for you."
- Dr. Wayne Dyer
"Creative visualization is the technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life."
- Shakti Gawain
"Perhaps the most effective method of bringing the subconscious into practical action is through the process of making mental pictures - using the imagination."
- Claude Bristol
"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking."
- William James, 1842-1910, Psychologist and Author
Despite these glowing endorsements and a long track record, some people can't get past feeling that this is just a "hokey" self-help technique. Rest assured, however, that visualization is an effective and time-tested method for increasing personal success that has been used by some of the highest achievers the world.
The Soviets started to popularize visualization in sports psychology back in the 1970's, as detailed in Charles Garfield's landmark book, "Peak Performance." They dominated in many sports during that period, which validated visualization anecdotally.
In the last 10-15 years, there has been some groundbreaking new brain research which has validated visualization scientifically. Here's something that was written recently by Dr. Richard Restak, a neuroscientist and author of 12 books about the human brain:
"The process of imagining yourself going through the motions of a complex musical or athletic performance activates brain areas that improve your performance. Brain scans have placed such intuitions on a firm neurological basis. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans reveal that the mental rehearsal of an action activates the prefontal areas of the brain responsible for the formulation of the appropriate motor programs. In practical terms, this means you can benefit from the use of mental imagery."
So much for visualization being a "cheesy" self-help technique.
Although visualization is widely used today, even people who are familiar with it often don't realize its many applications. Arguably the most common use of visualization is by athletes, musicians and other performers as a form of "mental rehearsal." Research shows that "practicing in your mind" is almost as effective as practicing physically, and that doing both is more effective than either one alone.
A common use of visualization in the fitness context is "goal visualization." In your mind's eye, you can see yourself having already achieved your physique goal or your ideal goal weight. You can also visualize a specific performance goal such as completing a difficult workout or a heavy lift like a squat or bench press.
One creative way you can use mental imagery is called "process visualization." Once you've set your goals, it's easy to come up with a list of the daily habits, behaviors and action steps necessary to reach your goal. So write down the action steps and visualize them - the entire process, not just the end result. See yourself food shopping and grabbing fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, ordering healthy foods from restaurant menus, saying no to sodas and drinking water instead, and going to the gym consistently and having killer workouts. Some people visualize their entire "perfect day" as they would want it to unfold. When you do this as vividly, emotionally and in as much detail as you can, you will be neurologically priming your brain to carry out those behaviors.
The least known of all mental imagery techniques is called "physiology visualization." An example would be picturing the fat burning process in your body or seeing the muscle fibers growing larger and larger. Using this technique, could it be possible that you might be giving subconscious instructions to your body's cells, organs and tissues?
Well, consider the work of Dr. Carl Simonton, a physician and cancer researcher who taught his patients (as one part of a comprehensive program), how to visualize powerful immune cells devouring the cancer cells. I'm not suggesting that you can cure cancer or materialize a lean and muscular body just by visualizing, (there's a step in between thought and manifestation - it's called action - a step that many self help 'experts' forget to mention). However, thoughts and mental images are the precursors to action and the fact that a mind-body connection definitely exists makes this an exciting prospect.
Scientists have established the mind-body link in many contexts, and not just by the existence of a placebo effect. There's also direct evidence as in the way emotional stress can contribute to physical disease. The mind does influence the body! The mere fact that a branch of science has been devoted to this area is proof that it deserves critical investigation and is not just the domain of infomercial self help gurus. The science is called psychoneuroimmunology.
Using "physiology visualization," you could, even in the middle of a workout, imagine the fat burning process taking place, and visualize fat being released from adipose tissue storage in your abdominal region or elsewhere. You could see the free fatty acids entering your bloodstream, being carried to the working muscles and being burned for energy in the muscle cells. You could also visualize the physiology of muscle growth.
To make your imagery as accurate and detailed as possible, my best suggestion is to refer to an anatomy & physiology textbook that shows pictures of fat cells, blood vessels, myofibrils, motor units, sarcomeres, and cell organelles like the mitochondria, so you know what the structures look like. You could also get more details about the processes by looking up lipolysis, hypertrophy or beta oxidation.
Even if you had no idea what the internal structure and workings of the body were like, you could still use this method. Your body responds to mental imagery even if it isn't anatomically correct. We know from the field of hypnosis that the subconscious mind responds well to metaphor – maybe even better than literal suggestions. Facts and logic are the domain of the conscious mind, while emotion and metaphor can slip right past the conscious and into the subconscious. Dr. Simonton often wrote about his young patients who created (metaphorical) mental images of immune system cells as "knights in shining armor", slaying "the dragon" of cancer cells.
One of your greatest mental powers is imagination. You can visualize anything you want and you can embellish and exaggerate your imagery as much as you want. For example, you could imagine the free fatty acids being burned for energy in the "cellular powerhouse" - the mitochondria - and you could imagine the mitochondria as a fiery furnace... "incinerating" the fat! I think it's a pretty cool idea to "see" your fat cells shrinking and visualize your body as a "fat burning furnace."
Should you not believe that there's anything to the physiology visualization technique, that's ok, because we know that the subconscious is deductive. Just give it a goal, tell it what you want and it will get you there automatically by altering your attention and behavior. Therefore, we can be confident that physiology visualization will be effective even if only as a subconscious directive about your desired goal. If science someday provides us with conclusive evidence that visualization actually does cause cellular - physiological changes in the body, well, that's just all the better.
How they lost 100 lbs or more is a topic that always gets a lot of attention and is very popular in the media. Whenever someone loses a lot of weight, there is always buzz from those who were inspired by hearing about these huge body fat losses and before/after transformations. I was inspired, too. But sometimes I think we focus too much on the almighty scale and body fat percentage and forget about something even more important…
Health is what psychologist Abraham Maslow called a deficiency need, which means that when you've lost it, getting it back is the only thing in the world that matters.
Unfortunately, two corollaries to this theory of human motivation are:
1. Most people won't lift a finger to improve their health until something bad happens (they have to hit "rock bottom" to change), and
2. When you've got your health, you tend to take it for granted.
That's why we need constant reminders to keep our focus on health and keep health right on top of our list of life values.
As you remind yourself of the importance of your health every day, it also pays to consider how you define it.
Fitness and transformation icon Shawn Phillips, author of Strength for Life, says that if your definition of health is merely the absence of disease, then subconsciously, the mere absence of disease means you've achieved your "goal."
Therefore, you feel no motivation and no need to move above and beyond that and strive towards…
"A life of ABUNDANT energy, vitality and strength."
We NEED these reminders.
That's why I get such a thrill when people send me success stories that are not just about the scale and body fat percentage, but ALSO about health and what that new-found health has done for a person's life.
A Before and After Success Story You Don't See Every Day (But Should)
For example, this success story comes from Burn the Fat reader Craig B:
"Tom, I visited my Dr. today and he was stunned at the change in my blood results. Check out this before and after:
HDL (good cholesterol)
VLDL (bad cholesterol)
Total cholesterol/HDL ratio
(I dropped from 2X average risk to less than HALF average risk!)
(I moved from High risk to Low risk.)
I have burned 34lbs of fat and put on 7lbs of lean muscle.
I have moved from 40% body fat to 32.9% (My scale may be off, but I am hoping to verify those body fat % measurements with a dunk test during my next visit to S.F. or Portland.)
The doctor, in short, was blown away with the results.
I have tried Atkins, Protein Power, Lindora (medical weight control), each of these over the years and probably too many others to mention. Never have I felt this empowered and well armed with information and insight.
When I was not getting the results the math would have me believe, I had the tools and community support to explain what Beta Blockers do to cardio and metabolism then took that insight to my doctor and he has reduced and changed those meds.
I am now off statins all together as of today!
I have a ways to go to reach my final goal of 10% body fat, but I have the tools and I can accomplish it. I am, as you suggested, putting the date when I achieve it in pencil, but the 10% BF is in ink. I will get there.
It is amazing how empowering feeling good and controlling your blood chemistry through nourishment (both physiological and physical) and being consistent with the hard work in the gym and changing to a new lifestyle.
Thanks Tom - you are helping a lot of people, clearly. I will be telling anyone about the book and the Burn the Fat website that has any questions or looking for answers."
Gaining muscle and losing fat is nice, but what could be better than gaining muscle, losing fat AND feeling your health, energy and vitality skyrocket!
As Craig shows us, tracking your health improvements, not just what you weigh, gives you another source of tremendous motivation and a feeling of empowerment.
You realize that you are in control of your body. You are the maker and master.
One final thought: It's a misconception that the "bodybuilding" lifestyle is in some way not healthy or doesn't dramatically IMPROVE your health
Nothing could be further from the truth, as Craig's results prove. Craig was not just doing aerobics - he was pumping iron and feeding the muscle, not starving himself.
If you do ANY kind of resistance training, you ARE a "body-builder" and a "health-builder."
When you do NATURAL bodybuilding, it's about looking great AND getting healthier. That's how I do it - naturally - and that's how I encourage others to do it in my Burn the Fat programs.
The word "visualization" sometimes conjures up images of new age gurus teaching esoteric techniques for personal enlightenment and "attracting" what you want into your life. This causes many evidence-based types to scoff. However, piles of research has shown that mental imagery (aka "visualization") can improve performance. The latest study suggests that a certain type of mental imagery can also increase your strength
Olympic champions and professional athletes have used visualization and mental rehearsal techniques for decades. Not only is visualization one of the most widely accepted techniques in sports psychology, it's supported by scientific research.
Nevertheless, many people remain skeptical.
Some people agree that mental rehearsal might enhance specific skills, like a golf swing or a basketball throw, but they question whether it could make you stronger, increase muscle growth or help you lose weight.
A new study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that indeed, mental imagery can make you stronger. This study also begins to explain how mental imagery works on a neurological level…
Twenty two sports students, with a mean age of about 20, participated in the 6-week long experiment. Prior to the study, none had done mental imagery before. The students were divided into a control group and a mental rehearsal group.
The goal was to see if mental imagery could increase bench press and leg press strength.
Each participant was given very specific instructions on how to perform the mental imagery. During the rest period between sets, they were to vividly imagine the exercise movement and the muscle contractions generated from each rep.
After 12 workout sessions, the mental imagery group had significantly increased their strength more than the control group, especially in the lower body (leg press).
The researchers concluded:
"The results provided evidence that mental imagery did contribute to improve strength of the leg muscles without any macroscopic structural change"
What they were saying is that the duration of the study wasn't long enough that there was any major muscle size increase, so they credited the strength increase to non morphological adaptations.
It's well known in exercise science that gains in strength occur from changes not just in the muscle fibers and surrounding tissues, but in the nervous system.
That gives us clues about how mental imagery works.
Put simply, mental training techniques, (since they're working with your brain/nervous system - as the name implies), can trigger some of the same neurological adaptations that occur from physical training.
Apparently, mental imagery can increase synchronization of motor units in muscles, having large corresponding cortical areas in the primary mortor cortex.
There are also psychological benefits, such as increased motivation, improved focus during the set, technique improvements, more confidence and less apprehension or anxiety. But clearly, there's more to this than just "psyching up."
Here's something else interesting. The researchers even suggested that mental imagery could decrease strength loss when athletes are inactive due to injury.
This recent study is a practical one because it gives us one specific technique that you can apply to your next workout: vividly imagine a successful lift for the upcoming set while you're resting between sets.
NOTE: it's important to mentally see (visualize) the exercise and mentally "FEEL" the muscle contraction. This is multi-sensory - both visual and kinesthetic.
In some of my previous articles, I talked about density training and superset training as excellent techniques for busy people because these methods reduce rest intervals, making the workout time efficient.
But the rest time between heavy sets doesn't have to be wasted - now you know what to do with that time…
Instead of chatting with your gym buddies, or scoping out the attractive bods in the gym, you can be mentally rehearsing your next set… and enjoying the strength increase that follows.
Most fat loss programs only focus on diet or physical training. If you want to learn more about how you can add "mental training" techniques to increase fat loss, muscle growth and muscular strength, then be sure to check out chapter one in my ebook, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.
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