Are you excited? Do you have your list of resolutions and goals for 2017? I have mine!
Hopefully, you were able to S.M.A.R.T. goal your list. If you're just tuning in, go HERE to see how to make a New Year's Resolution list that will ROCK and you'll actually stick to!
S.M.A.R.T. goals - Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Today, we're going to make a specific plan for January. Going forward, I'll use Be Healthier as the example goal (cuz I'm a trainer, after all!). Be Healthier is a great goal but very vague. For it to be a S.M.A.R.T. goal, your resolution would sound like this - To Be Healthier in 2017, beginning in January, I will do cardio and resistance workouts three times each per week, drink a gallon of water per day, NO junk food, focus on eating lean proteins, fresh fruits and veggies, and whole grain carbs for three meals and two small snacks while maintaining a healthy calorie level. Very S.M.A.R.T.! You know exactly what you will go for the month of January. Let's fill in the details now.
**Side note - we are going to discuss making YOUR specific plan. In another post, I will give suggestions for workouts, recipes and meal plans. For now, we'll talk about HOW to make that specific plan. You can pick and choose from the next post!! Or, if you're a go-getter, check out my Facebook page or Pinterest page!**
First, workouts. You are going to map out exactly what workout you will do and when you will do it. You'll even lay out your workout clothes! Yes, like kids going to school. Hey, whatever works!!! First, cardio. Cardio is probably the simplest type of workout to tackle. Basically, just move enough to get your heart rate up. The list of cardio options is long and varied. We'll talk more about that tomorrow. For now, how often, how long, how intense should you be doing cardio?
I'll make three suggestions based on your current fitness level - Rookie, Middleman, and Veteran. (cuz I'm a trainer!). What is your fitness level?
Rookie - If you have never (or hardly ever) worked out, you are a Rookie. If you haven't worked out in FOREVER (I mean YEARS. Like since high school and your kids are now in high school), you are a Rookie. Woohoo - you have a blank slate to work with and can create a new, healthy you!
Middleman - If you have a sports background but it's been awhile since you've done anything, you are a Middleman. If you had an injury and it's been awhile since you've done anything, you are a Middleman. Basically, you've worked out in the past, maybe even been in awesome shape at once but are now starting over after a good, long break - you are a Middleman. Let me be very clear - you probably have the hardest journey ahead. BUT, you also have an AWESOME knowledge base! Don't get discouraged because you don't snap back into shape in one week. Remind yourself (often) - you didn't get out of shape over night, you won't get back into shape overnight. But, thanks to your background, you are ahead of the curve!
Veterans - my athletes. Do you currently workout? Are you goals relatively small (lose those last 5 lbs, take your diet to the next level) or are they sports or achievement related? Do you want to improve your lap time, qualify for Boston, shave some time of your bike mileage, improve on the slopes or decrease your body fat percentage below the Acceptable range into the Fitness of even Athlete range? You, my friend, are a Veteran.
How often should you be doing cardio?
Rookie - aim for three times per week. You want to let you body get used to the activity in order to avoid over use injuries.
Middleman - three to four times per week. Your body will remember this! Start easy then we'll ramp it up.
Veteran - four to even six times per week, based on your specific goals. The frequency isn't the most important factor for you. Intensity and type of cardio will be the focus. For example, runners will be working on time, strength, and distance.
How long should you be doing cardio?
Rookie - 20-30 minutes per session. Again, we want to let your body get used to this before asking it to really perform. Don't worry! You'll still see benefits!!
Middleman - at least 30 minutes per session. If you can get in a longer session of 45-60 minutes once per week, that is AWESOME.
Veteran - yours is specific - 20 minutes for speed work, 30-45 minutes for pace work, and 60+ minutes to endurance work. Tomorrow, when we talk about specific workouts, I'll go into more details for cardio workouts to improve sports performance.
How intense should you be doing cardio?
This one is the kicker. If you aren't working at the right rate, you are getting the maximum benefit. I'm going to teach you a basic test to determine how hard you are working. The Talk Test. This is EASY - When your heart rate isn't elevated, you can carry on a conversation with no problem. Your breathing is rhythmic and normal, you have no problem keeping pace with conversation. As your heart rate elevates and your breathing speeds up, it becomes more and more difficult to talk. There are three basic levels of cardio effort - Medium, Medium to High and High. (Low is not applicable, that's when you aren't working out!)
At the Medium level (or Steady State or aerobic), your breathing and heart rate are elevated but it's a comfortable point. Here's your test - you should be able to say the sentence "Hi, my name is __________(your full name)" or "My address is______" before needing to breathe. This is the EASY Talk Test to determine which cardio effort level you are at. This level is commonly referred to as the Fat Burning level (don't worry about why or the science...different post!!) and typically you would stay in this level for the longest period of time. This is your long run, your 45-60 minute cardio session. Or for my Rookies, this is where you will be doing your cardio to begin with.
At the Medium to High level, your breathing is faster, your heart rate is faster and your body is working harder to supply oxygen to your muscles. To test this point, use the same sentences, but you should only be able to say 2-4 words before needing to breathe. You are improving your cardiovascular strength at this level. You are in the anaerobic stage, burning glucose first. This is your shorter cardio sessions - 20-30 minutes, depending on fitness levels.
At the High intensity level, you CAN'T talk. Your breathing is UP there, your heart is pounding, this is a level that you can't maintain for very long. For the most part, only my Veterans will be here. This is the sports performance level. You are working to improve speed, strength or another very specific goal. For example - when I'm doing sprint work, trying to improve my mile pace, I run as fast as I can until I start to see spots (as in oxygen deprivation to the brain!). It's quick, I can't maintain it for long. I then slow down until I can talk again and repeat the process for 20 minutes or so. This trains my heart and lungs to work more efficiently, eventually strengthening them so my overall mile pace is faster. Again, only my Veterans will be doing this at first.
Now that your head is spinning, how does this apply to you?
Rookies - I want you to do 20-30 minutes of cardio, three times per week at the Medium intensity level. At any point during your cardio session, you should be able to say "Hi, my name is _______" or "My address is____".
Middleman - I want you to do 30 minutes of cardio, three to four times per week at the Medium to High intensity. You can go up and down between Medium and Medium to High as your fitness level dictates. Early in the month, you may be mostly in the Medium level. As the month goes, you will be able to increase your intensity for longer periods of time. That is your goal for your cardio this month - to be able to do 30 minutes of cardio at the Medium to High intensity by the end of the month. Remember, Medium intensity is the ability to say "Hi, my name is _____" or "My address______" where Medium to High intensity is the only the ability to say 2-4 words at a time.
Veterans - I want to do at least three different workouts (preferably four) per week - 1 thirty minute steady state (your typical 5k pace), 1 twenty minute speed workout, 1 forty five to sixty minute steady state workout and (if you can get in four) one 20 minute strength cardio workout. The strength cardio workout would be hills if you're a runner or cyclist, a high resistance workout on a cardio machine, a weighted swim workout or weighted hike. Your intensity will be different for each workout - for your steady state workouts, you should be at a Medium level. The speed workout should alternate between High and Medium. And lastly, your resistance workout should be Medium High.
Again, I'll give you some specific workouts in tomorrow's post!
What about resistance? Many people are intimidated by resistance or weight workouts. Don't be! Resistance or weights is actually where you will see the biggest weight loss. This is as a result of a few things - a pound of muscle at rest (meaning if you just laid on the ground) about 6-10 calories per day. A pound of fat burns about 2 calories per day. In addition, that difference is compounded when you lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle. Also, a pound of fat takes up about twice as much space as a pound of muscle. So if you lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle, half the space is being taken up (you are smaller!), you are burning more calories at rest AND your overall metabolism increases, meaning you can eat more! Plus resistance workouts help build and maintain bone density, functional strength, performance strength and general overall fitness.
Now that I've convinced you that you need to be doing resistance workouts, where do you start? What workouts should you do? Again, I will make recommendations for Rookies, Middlemen and Veterans.
Rookies - just like for your cardio, I need your body to become accustomed to what we're asking it to do. We'll start with three full body workouts each week. You'll work each muscle group three times with at least one day of rest in between workouts.
Middlemen - I'll ask you to step it up a bit by doing one full body workout, one lower body and one upper body workout each week. You'll have a day of rest in between each workout.
Veterans - you will be doing four strength session per week - two upper body and two lower body, focusing on compound moves. The two upper or lower workouts will hit your muscles in different ways to make sure you are fully trained. You'll have at least two days in between each upper or lower body workout.
You should have a general idea of when you will workout, how often and at what intensity. Now we'll talk about nutrition. Remember, I'm using Be Healthier as an example goal and will continue to give recommendations for that goal.
Second, nutrition. I hate to say it but this is probably the most challenging part of a healthy lifestyle. First, you have to stick to your healthy eating plan ALL DAY. It isn't like a 30 minute workout you can check off your to-do list. And, frankly, food is good! It can be hard to disconnect your emotional connection to the pleasure of food. Hopefully, I can teach you how to make healthy choices that also satisfy your emotional, mental and social needs.
First things first - get the junk out of your house. Get. It. Out.
Now, what to eat? I'll give you some specifics tomorrow - recipes, suggestions, etc. For now, let's talk big picture. You want to focus on eating lean proteins, fresh fruits and veggies and whole grain carbs. The exact amount of each isn't as important until you start needing to track macro and micro nutrients (athletes). For now, you'll want to make sure you are getting good ratios of each throughout the day.
A good example for a daily meal plan would be yogurt, all natural granola and fruit for breakfast, skim mozzarella cheese stick and almonds for a mid-morning snack, a grilled chicken salad with a whole wheat roll for lunch, veggies and hummus for mid-afternoon snack and bell peppers stuffed with turkey, black beans,
corn, peppers and quinoa for dinner. The more 'real' food you eat, the better you are doing. I read a quote somewhere once that said if you can grow it or raise it, it's good for you. If it's been processed, it's probably not good for you. Or a good guide is to shop on the outside of the store. The inside aisles are almost all processed food.
When I give you recipes tomorrow, I will give you plenty of options for each meal, I'll talk about how to put it together to avoid cooking a TON and wasting food and shopping lists.
Go get your resolution list. Looking at it, are you ready to plan out January with when you'll workout, what workout (cardio, resistance, which body part) you'll do? What about nutrition? Get the junk food out of your kitchen and start thinking about recipes you like that are healthy, given the information above. Tomorrow, we'll talk about some specific cardio and resistance workouts and recipes, meal plans and shopping lists.