As we’re nearing year 2 since I made the decision to pick up some weights, stop doing so much cardio & make my nutrition a priority, I’ve thought a lot about the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Mistakes are obviously a part of life & are bound to be a part of your fitness journey as you learn what works best for your body to reach your goals. I thought it might be helpful to those who are beginning their fitness journey or to anyone who already works their booty off in the gym to read 8 mistakes I made when I started & how I chose to fix them to better my physical & mental health!
1. What works for her won’t work for you
I can’t tell you how many times I looked to fitness gurus like Nikki Blackketter, Heidi Somers, Sarah Stevenson, etc etc etc for workouts & nutrition advice. I thought that if I did what they did, training + nutrition wise, it would help me look just like them. BUT PLOT TWIST. I’m not them. You’re not them. Your metabolism, daily calorie/macronutrient intake needed to function, body type, etc is going to be different. I made the mistake of focusing on what each of them did: eating low carb, extremely high protein & training extremely hard to look the way they do. It would leave me exhausted & crabby because HELLO, my body is not theirs! Do what your body thrives off of & you’ll always be happy in your journey!
2. Thinking eating a low carb diet will get me to my goals more quickly
Recognizing this mistake completely changed the game for me. This kind of ties into mistake #1. Those girls with lots of muscle & lean stomachs were all eating low carb, high protein, high fat in their diets so naturally I assumed it would work me. After a couple of months of eating extremely low carb but high protein/high fat, my body ended up dropping some muscle mass & strength, I was still hungry all the time even with eating almost 2,000cals per day & didn’t make any fat loss progress. At the time I was shocked because I thought, “HOW are those girls so toned if they eat this way?” Once again, I’m not them. This was the moment I realized my body was meant to run on a high carb diet. It wasn’t until I adjusted my macros to high carb, moderate protein & low fat, that I was able to make fat loss progress, see abs, build muscle & feel energized all day (take note I was still eating the same amount of calories as before, just switched the macro numbers). After hearing what a registered dietitian had to say & also what my boyfriend learned in medical school classes, our bodies need carbohydrates. Living off of a low carb diet is not sustainable as our brains run off of glucose. Taking away too many carbs will eventually inhibit your ability to learn & think properly as neurotransmitters in your brain will not have enough glucose to synthesize properly. Carbs are also responsible for providing your body with tryptophan, which is needed for helping your body produce serotonin, our “feel good” hormone. Ever wonder why people who begin crash diets or people who are nearing the end of their prep for a competition get crabby? Lack of carbs so head to Olive Garden guuuuurl.
3. Thinking there is only 1 way to “do fitness”
If you read my Why I Gave Up Lifting Heavy Weights post, you already know what this one is about! When I started 2 years ago, I was doing only cardio & bodyweight exercises then switched to HIIT cardio & lifting heavy weights. This helped me gain so much progress along with proper nutrition. Because this gave me progress, I avoided trying anything else long term. I would try yoga a couple times a week, then give up because I thought it would ruin da booty gainz (I can eye roll with you) & it was the same with other forms of fitness. I realized a few months ago that fitness is never a one – size – fits – all. I go into more detail of why I chose to completely switch what I was doing in the post linked above, but trying other forms of fitness will keep you from being bored & always looking forward to my workouts!
4. Thinking I needed supplements
This one is huge! Soooo many people I come across on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc are using & promoting fitness supplements. The most common ones I see right now are 1st Form, Women’s Best, & 1Up Nutrition. Supplements aren’t bad as long as you’re checking your labels & make sure you know exactly what you’re putting into your body. But you honestly don’t NEED them in order to reach your goals. Nutrition & what you’re doing in the gym is what’s mostly going to affect your results. All of the ItWorks! you see on Instagram about how you can sit on your booty, eat anything you want & use pills & wraps to magically make you look toned like in their photos is a load of BS. You actually need to work to see results. Supplements will help you the extra 5-10%, but never 100%. My favorite supplements personally are protein powder & BCAAs. They make it easier for me to hit my protein & amino acid needs! Just make sure you trust the company & are 110% sure their ingredients won’t harm your body. I’ve seen a handful of companies out there throw chemicals & crap into their products, overprice them & use social media promoting false claims to “burn your fat” or “build muscle more quickly” with their products. Be smarter & don’t fall into it!
5. Not taking a rest day
This one bit me in the butt real quick. When you first start your fitness journey, you’re making progress, you’re dropping lbs, you’re building muscle, who wants to take a rest day am I right? But you should. Here’s why – your muscles grow at rest. Working out creates small tears in your muscles that cannot be repaired unless you rest them. This is why personal trainers will create “muscle splits” (Monday: Legs, Tuesday: Back/Biceps: Wednesday: Shoulders, etc & on the final day, REST) It is always advised by trainers to never work the same muscle every day as not giving it a rest will continue to break down the muscle & not allow it to rebuild & repair. Not giving your body a rest day when needed can put your body into “defense mode,” meaning that at first you will lose weight from the excess calorie expenditure, but over time your body will plateau & try to hold onto fat because it’s burning through too many calories too quickly. It is recommended that people in gym take 1-2 rest days as needed. Always, always, always listen to your body. It knows what’s best for you!
6. Consuming “diet foods”
I can’t tell you how many times I popped a frozen Lean Cuisine meal into the microwave after a long day in college or reached for a Special K “Breakfast Bar” in the morning before class. When beginning your fitness journey or trying to be healthier, it’s very easy to just reach for the items labeled as “healthy” with no sugar, no fat but high protein. It’s an awesome marketing strategy for those companies.. until you educate yourself on what’s thrown into those items. Have you ever actually looked at the ingredient list of Lean Cuisine meals or even looked at the sodium content? A Lean Cuisine meal has preservatives, artificial flavors & can have up to 730mg of sodium, which is almost 50% of what the American Heart Association recommends for the average person. It’s cheaper & healthier to purchase Whole Foods & make the same dinners yourself! If you’re needing something quick for meals check out my 5 Tips for Meal Preppin’ post!
7. Not stretching every day
This wasn’t something I started doing until about a couple of months ago. I used to just hit the gym, spend 30-45 minutes there and want to leave and conquer the day. But my muscles were constantly tight and weren’t recovering as quickly as they should have. When we workout/lift weights our muscles contract and tighten but when we stretch, we are lengthening them to reduce soreness & help recovery. Regular stretching also helps our circulation, decreases the chance of injury, reduces stress (yoga) & increases flexibility. I’ve dealt with Scoliosis since I was in middle school so I NEVER thought I would be able to do the poses pictured. It’s taken me 3 months of stretching 15 minutes every day & doing 30 minutes of yoga twice a week to get there, but it’s crazy how much it benefits our bodies.
8. Not eating foods I love
I’m underlining this as a public service announcement that you do not need to eat only chicken, rice and broccoli to reach your fitness goals. Please for the love of fitness, eat foods you love. You don’t need to eat the same thing every day, all day to reach your goals. I remember when I first started I ate chicken, rice and broccoli CONSTANTLY, lunch and dinner. I got so sick of it so quick. There are SO many other healthy protein, carb, fat and veggie options out there! I love switching it up so that I never feel bored of what I’m eating! Some of my favorite options are:
Whole Wheat Pasta
I hope you found these tips helpful! I apologize for my lack of blogging: work, taking care of myself & test prep have me busy! Be on the lookout because I’ll be posting more healthy tips this week 🙂