Making a list of diet and fitness mistakes I have made over the years might get kind of lengthy as I have made more than a few. Something I learned long ago is smart people learn from the mistakes of others, it might be said I am a slow learner. I hope you can learn a few lessons from my past mistakes, here goes:
1. I just did not care about diet and fitness at a couple of times in my life. This point is the one I want to place the most emphasis on, I did not care. Now, how about that for being not only less than intelligent, but also pretty selfish too? This mindset is less than intelligent as, at some point, an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle will jump up and pop you in the nose before you can even say ouch. You might get away with this for a period of time, but unhealthy eating and laziness will always, at some point, catch up with you.
I guarantee this. Without fail, your health will begin taking a nose dive on you at some point. For some, this may come later in life, but for many, they will become stoved up with old peoples issues and ailments far too prematurely. Look around yourself on any given day and you will see folks in their early forties who are obese, out of shape to be able to function to their full capabilities as a human. Every day people become victims of their own poor lifestyles and then spend a good portion of time and a great deal of money on medical care which could otherwise be preventable.
Not taking care of your own health is a naive, or even a selfish attitude, that is never going to be just about you. Your poor choices will always become the business of someone else when you cannot fully take care of yourself. If you are going to be selfish about your own health, you might begin looking now for the loved one who is going to have to pick up the broken pieces behind you.
2. I never tracked my intake of food. When you eat with no regard to what types of food you are consuming, nor the amount of calories, you are going to become obese at some point. Most people can live a healthy life on 1800 to 2500 calories per day, especially if they eat whole, healthy foods that are not processed, contain added sugars and or tons of preservatives. You can very easily consume in excess of your daily needs in just one outing to a fast food restaurant. With all of the garbage foods of so called convenience of today, it is no difficult chore that people can find themselves consuming 5000 to 6000 calories per day, or even more. This is why in America we have an obesity epidemic where close to three fourths of our population is either already obese, or at a minimum, overweight. Sadly, this is also why our nation’s military is having a hard time finding quality recruits that can even meet the basic requirements to enlist. Our children are growing up obese, out of shape and suffering preventable physical ailments such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome to name just a few.
3. I over-estimated my caloric burn from exercise. This is a common problem where people greatly exaggerate their physical exertion from exercise. The thing is, many people have no clue what vigorous exercise truly is. Nor do they understand or know how to recognize the intensity of their efforts. I have seen this on a few weight loss social media sights where people will justify to themselves eating more than they need because they “exercised” at high intensity for at least an hour.
News flash; If you are overweight, or obese, it is highly unlikely that you are going to exercise at high intensity for a full hour. Really, it just is not going to happen simply because you would need to be an elite level athlete. If you were an elite level athlete, you would not be struggling to lose 100 pounds in the first place. This is just the truth, even if it hurts.
If you can easily carry on a conversation during your exercise, you are exercising at a low intensity. You can still carry on a conversation with ease because your heart rate is not elevated enough to burn fat. While a slow walk around the neighborhood is certainly much better than sitting your tail on the couch watching the boob tube, it is not going to justify going out for an ice cream sundae afterwards.
You want your heart rate to be at a level where you can still speak in conversation, but your words need to be labored. This is when you are at a medium intensity level. When your heart rate makes your conversation labored, you are at the fat burning aerobic zone for burning fat. This is where you need to be when doing cardiovascular exercises. Once your heart rate is in the right zone, it will take your body at least 20 minutes to burn through it’s glycogen stores before it begins burning fat for energy. You might need to work up to this, and that is perfectly fine. I would encourage you to do so. But in the meantime, do not over rate how much fat you are burning if you cannot go at it for at minimum of a half hour, and at least three times per week, four times preferably.
If you are huffing and puffing and cannot talk, you are at a high level of intensity. At this point, you have entered the anaerobic zone and need to slow down your intensity to the medium level. If you are over weight or obese, you are not going to be able to exercise at this intensity for more than a couple minutes at best. Period. I do not care who you are. If you go onto your diet app and log that you exercised at a high intensity for a solid hour, you either do not understand intensity levels or you are lying to yourself in order to shovel more sugary crap into your belly. If you do this, you are likely to never lose your weight and should take a moment to evaluate yourself, your goals and just how you are going to achieve them
4. I did not place the same emphasis on nutrition as I did my physical exercises of choice. If you enter Fitness Triad in our blog search bar, I have written an extensive article on this topic. In a nutshell, if you begin an exercise regimen, you need to feed your body with healthy foods for fuel. You need to ensure you are also consuming enough good protein in order to either maintain your lean muscle mass or to build upon it.
You need to ensure you are consuming the right amount of calories. Too many and you will find that you cannot out exercise your diet. Too few, and you will find yourself losing lean muscle mass and you could become what we refer to as skinny fat. Skinny fat is where your body might be at the so called ideal weight for your height, yet your body fat percentage is still to high for good health. Skinny fat is probably more harmful to your overall health and wellness as it could give you a false sense of security by being at your goal weight. Too high of a percentage of body fat is unhealthy no matter your weight which is why we teach and promote concentrating on body fat percentage over a random number on your bathroom scale.
Note: You can go to Calorie Counter Pro in our menu and find how many you need for your individual goal. It is free of charge to you.
5. I did not understand how important rest and recovery is to exercise specifically in weight training. Again, enter Fitness Triad in our search bar as this topic is also a part of that article. When you exercise, you cause micro-trauma to your muscle tissue which requires time to heal itself. This is how we get stronger. Another component of this equation is that your central nervous system needs a break too. This is particularly true when training with heavy weights. If you do not give your body adequate rest and recovery, you will find yourself burning out before you have reached your physical potential.
6. I did not do my due diligence in fully researching my exercise of choice from known experts. This is easier now days to do with all of the modern search engines available on the internet. It used to be that all we had for weight training was muscle magazines where Joe Wieder was selling worthless supplements and convoluted routines no one could ever fully understand, nor would they possess the personal equipment in order to even do them. Do yourself a favor and listen to those who are established professionals instead of falling into the trap of Bro Science which is usually based on the gym equivalent of “old wives tails”‘.
7. I did not understand the importance of using an established routine or tracking my workouts in a log. If you are serious about any type of exercise, do yourself a favor and establish a routine, even if it is just running. And then log everything that you do. Sets, reps and weights for weight training. Distance, pace and time for running as examples. Tracking a routine is a form of measurement, and what gets measured gets done. It also allows you to keep track of your progress by being able to go back and read over your earlier sessions. It is also a good idea for weight trainers to log the amount of sleep you get each day, and the amount of calories and macronutrients you have consumed before hand. Your mood and or how you felt when beginning your exercise session is important too. By logging these items, you can more easily identify why your routine might be stalling out on you.
8. Getting hung up on not being the strongest, the fastest or the best in the gym. Everyone is a newbie at some point, and most gym goers know this. Do not worry about what others might think of your level of fitness when you go to the gym. Just get in there and be diligent in getting your routine completed. Your tenacity will be noticed by those who are experienced in physical fitness. And even if you do go unnoticed, who cares? Just do your own thing. Bear in mind too, that sometimes, some of those you might think are all that in the gym might not know much more than you.
9. No matter your exercise of choice, learn to perfect your form and movements. If you think lifting weights is just picking up heavy stuff and setting it down, you are sadly mistaken. Take the time to perfect your form before trying to go heavy as this will mitigate your risk for injury and allow you to continue going forward for years to come. Lifting weights is as much about technique as it is about strength. Bad form and technique can hurt you bad.
If you are an aspiring runner, you need to learn it is more than just moving your feet as fast as you can for as far as you are able. Learn and perfect your stride. Build upon your pace, and how to breath. Seems simple enough, that is until you head out and cannot manage to jog around even a simple neighborhood block.
At my age, I have honestly made my share of mistakes in nutrition and exercise over the years. Those without blemish are usually found to be liars in my experience. Take care of your nutrition and fitness and odds are likely that your quality of life as you age is going to be leaps and bounds superior than if you neglect yourself. Too often, folks neglect themselves and find themselves sickly in their early forties, or younger, with ailments that used to not hit until at least the upper sixties or seventies. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take proper care of yourself. Anything else is could easily be seen as selfishness on your part. Others will always have to pick up all of your broken pieces at some point.