After about five months back at the gym, very strong & very committed, I wanted to share with you some of the tips & tricks I’ve discovered & developed along the way that make working out fun, effective, time-efficient, motivating & most importantly, PART OF MY LIFESTYLE!
Don’t compare yourself, your progress, abilities or success to others. Focus on YOU & your workout.
When I first started working out, I inadvertently always found myself comparing my body & my abilities (or lack thereof), to other women in my classes. At that point, I obviously wasn’t as physically strong as I’ve become now (& I still have ways to go!) & I often wondered how everyone else was able to be so consistent, keep up with the workout & be so good at it, while I was struggling. Overtime, I realized that comparing myself to others was counterproductive because it was just making me feel badly about myself, like I wasn’t good enough, made me doubt my abilities and made it harder for me to stay motivated. But, thankfully, I pulled through.In retrospect, I wish I’d known in the beginning, that comparing myself to others brought me nothing, except self-doubt.
I then actively chose to change my approach & to focus on one thing & one thing only: my progress, my abilities & my success. Instead of comparing myself to others, I began comparing myself to myself. What I mean by that is I started to track my progress, mentally & physically. I progressively not only saw my body changing, my muscles getting stronger and my mental & emotional stability come back, but I also began to FEEL STRONGER & MORE MENTALLY & EMOTIONALLY STABLE.
I also realized that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN IN THAT CLASS started somewhere. Every single person had their first day back at the gym. Tried the class for the first time (had no idea hat they were doing). Every single person had to ease into it. Everybody’s body had to get used to the workout. Everyone got stronger OVER TIME. And you will too. Just like me, everyone had a beginning. In changing my approach, I became more confident in my abilities. I realized I was stronger than I thought & more capable than I imagined. And I began to see my progress because I wasn’t blinded or putting myself down by comparing my success to the success or abilities of others. I learned to strive for my own success & to monitor my own progress, and that how hard I am able to go & the pace at which I progressively get stronger is in nobody else’s hands but mine.
Put it this way: if the woman next to you is going harder than you, is stronger than you or knows the workout routine better than you, watching her & wishing it were you will bring you nowhere. Instead, go as hard as YOU FEEL YOU CAN, watch YOURSELF get stronger, & GET TO KNOW THE ROUTINE because of how consistent you become. These are all things that you have control over, that will bring you SOMEWHERE, make you proud & ultimately, give you the satisfaction & gratification you are looking to find!
All this to say, no two people have the same abilities or strength. No two people have overcome the same obstacles. No two people have the same body. Don’t strive to be the girl next to you, or the one behind you, STRIVE TO BE THE BEST YOU. Focus on you. On your workout. Give it your all. And watch yourself succeed. It’s the most rewarding thing in the world.
Don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Only you know your limits. Respect them & respect your body.
In the same way that no two bodies are the same, have the same abilities or the same strength, no two bodies have the same limits either. You may have certain limits one day & not have them the next. You may have had a hectic day at work or with the kids, you may be in an overall crappy mood & not feeling your best. But, you may also walk into the class feeling like superwoman. You are human. Some days will be better than others. Some days will be worst than others. Embrace both. On the bad days, listen to your body. On the good days, push yourself & use all the energy and strength you have & invest it into your workout.
When you push yourself beyond your limits, your body will eventually burn out. Not only will your body burn out, but you’ll begin to associate working out with negative feelings & behaviours. You will teach your mind to hate it because you’ll anticipate suffering, as opposed to anticipating happiness, strength & energy. Ultimately, you want working out to be something you look forward to, something that’s rewarding for you & something that you feel you can do. As human beings, when we feel we can’t do something, it can go one of two ways: 1) we can push ourselves to try so hard until we realize we just can’t take it anymore & then we give up or 2) we can get discouraged & stop without even trying. EITHER WAY, the end result is the same: NO WORK. NO RESULTS.
As opposed to pushing yourself harder than you physically & mentally can, like anything in life, ease into it. Trust me, I speak from first hand experience when I say that in a few months from now, you’ll be looking back on what your limits were back then, and you’ll realize that with all the progress you’ve made & strength you’ve gained, those limits are now your abilities. IT TAKES TIME. But you’ll get there. And there is nothing that matters more than respecting your limits & your body – It truly is the only way to get there.
Set realistic, attainable goals that won’t discourage & demotivate you. Don’t adopt the “all-in” approach. Adopt the “baby steps” one.
This is something that I’ve spoken to you guys about before & that applies not only to exercising but to all walks of life, whether it be weight loss, a new relationship or a new job. I know, you’re human. You like a challenge. You want success. You’re ambitious. You want to accomplish things. You want to feel proud. You want gratification & satisfaction. And in order to attain all of that, you set goals.
And all of that is good & great until the ambition, desire for challenge, success & achievement gets the best of you, makes you lose sight of yourself and your goals & forces you into striving for perfection & unrealistic goals. Don’t let your your ambition get to your head to the point where it forces you to set unrealistic standards for yourself. While those goals may seem fun, or even realistic at first, overtime, they are counterproductive. When we feel like something is unattainable, unrealistic & even, impossible, we get down on ourselves. It affects us mentally because we feel like we just can’t do it. When we feel that way, we often opt for the easy way out: abandonment.
The better (& right) approach is to set small, realistic, attainable goals & focus on increasing your healthy behaviours OVERALL. These will still give you the success, challenge, ambition, accomplishment, pride & gratification you are looking for. And what’s more is that they’ll ALSO give you the motivation & determination to keep at it. You will see progress & results & with that, you will want to do & accomplish more. Unrealistic goals are hardly ever attainable & if they are, odds are, you are pushing yourself beyond your limits to fight for something that will ultimately disgust you & make you hate it.
There is nothing wrong with taking things slow & with allowing your body & mind to ease into the idea of incorporating exercise into your life. If anything, easing into it & taking baby steps is what will allow you to make it a lifestyle, as opposed to a “fad”, or a “trend” that you stay committed to for a few weeks or months & then abandon because you just aren’t seeing results. (I mean, HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO IF YOUR GOAL IS TO GET A SIX-PACK IN A MONTH?). Ya feel me?
Always keep essentials in your gym bag for post-workout freshening up, especially if you’re on the go!
The reality of the hustle & bustle of everyday life is that we don’t always have time to go home & take a luxury shower, do a face mask or post-workout skincare routine & wash our hair. A lot of us workout in the morning & go straight to work, while others go workout straight after a long day of work & then have to run errands post-workout or go home & take care of kids & make dinner. Let’s be honest, amidst all of that, an intricate post sweat sesh beauty routine is not always the first thing on our minds! This is why you should always come to the gym prepared!
Pack your gym bag with essentials, such as: deodorant, basic makeup palette (bronzer, highlighter + blush all in one, to keep it compact & mobile!), facial cleansing wipes, hydrating mist, hairbrush & dry shampoo &/or leave-in mist, lip balm & body spray! Having these things in your gym bag will let you keep up with the hustle & bustle of your daily life, leave the gym looking half-normal, feeling fresh (& as clean as can be for the moment) & ensure that your skin is clean!
A lot of us underestimate the importance of cleansing our faces after a workout. It’s not just because we let the sweat dry up & our makeup stays intact that our skin is clean. IT’S QUITE THE OPPOSITE ACTUALLY. When we workout, we sweat. REALITY CHECK, HELLO. If we don’t wash our faces (or at least cleanse them with facial cleansing wipes), we give the opportunity to a cocktail of bacteria, dirt, bodily fluids, sweat & oil to penetrate into our skin, ruin our pH & clog our pores, which can ultimately lead to breakouts, acne & skin irritation. This is why it is CRUCIAL to make sure to get all that crap off our faces & freshen up after a workout. Obviously, I’m not telling you to bring your entire bathroom cabinet with you to the bathroom: facial cleansing wipes & a hydrating mist to rehydrate your dehydrated post-workout skin will do (go for something with aloe, rose water, essential oils, collagen &/or vitamin C!).
As for, makeup, instead of taking an entire makeup bag with you, next time you need to stock up, consider investing in a multi-use palette that contains a bronzer, highlighter & blush so that it’s compact & easily transportable! Once you clean your face, dab on some concealer, bronze, highlight & blush it up and you’re good to go!
Hair-wise? If you’re not going anywhere special after the gym & don’t need to look A-game, just brush your hair out, slick it back into a high ponytail, low bum or braid it & BAM. If you’ve got somewhere to go, freshen up with some dry shampoo or hair mist or both, brush it out & your hair will look SOMEWHAT like it didn’t just go through the workout of your life. If you invest in a good dry shampoo, I swear, you can freshen that hurr up so good to the point that nobody will be able to tell hat you just sweat your brains out on a spin bike. I’m telling you.
And last but not least (& probably most importantly), if you aren’t going home, odds are you’ll be around people for the rest of the day & that means… DEODORANT & BODY SPRAY! Freshen up so that you’re actually pleasant to be around, ya feel me?
Wear clothes & shoes you feel good & comfy in & that provide good support. Don’t wear clothes that make you feel critical or self-conscious of your body.Don’t dress for the gym just to fit the part. Dress to be comfortable.
OKAY guys, this is serious business. I see so many girls coming to the gym in these little get-ups, where they are half naked & look like they can hardly move in their clothes. Seriously, what’s the point? They spend half the workout class checking themselves out in the mirror, lifting their leggings (or booty shorts, or underwear, OR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANNA CALL THEM), fixing their tiny sports bras & judging themselves. It’s obvious that they don’t feel comfy & aren’t comfy in their clothes. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, getting through a workout in clothes I’m uncomfortable in is the worst. The last thing I want to be doing is checking myself out in the mirror & being critical of my body, let alone not being able to move in what I’m wearing.
It’s so 200-I don’t know what, to dress for the gym to fit the part. 2017 IS ALL ABOUT DRESSING TO BE COMFY. Wear clothes you can move, stretch & jump in, and more importantly, wear clothes that you’re not suffocating in & that do not force you into being critical or judgmental of your body. You want to focus on your workout, not on how flattering your workout clothes are. If black lulus & a tight black tank are what you feel good in, wear that. If you’re more of a booty shorts & sports bra type of girl, wear that. WEAR WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY & COMFY!
So many girls make the gym about competition, about who has the bigger thigh gap, the stronger arms or the tighter abs. Take a second & think about how wrong that is. Go to the gym to feel good not only about your workout, BUT IN WHAT YOU’RE WEARING.
If you’re gifted in the lady part department, make sure to wear sports bras that provide good support, especially if you’re doing cardio, boot camps or workouts that involve a lot of jumping and bending up & down. The (second) last thing you want is for your lady parts to be wobbling all over the place & to have to worry about tucking them in after every burpee.
As for the shoes, there is nothing worse than wearing shoes that don’t provide good support. Think about it, your legs/feet are what support you through a lot of the workout moves that you’ll be doing (think: squats, lunges, jumping jacks, bridges, burpees, mountain climbers etc.). If your shoes don’t give you enough ankle support, odds are, those moves will be harder to hold, let alone get through. I KNOW, shoes are expensive, but to me, an initial investment that packs a pretty penny is A LOT more worth it than having to go out & buy a new pair of shoes every four or six months, depending how often you work out. Basically, the shoes will end up paying themselves off & you’ll be comfy throughout your workouts, SO IT’S A WIN WIN! Okay?
Make a schedule at the beginning of the week to keep you accountable/give you something to look forward to & help you structure your week.
Change up your workouts to stimulate different muscle groups, prevent boredom, prevent plateaus & overuse injuries!
- Breaking through weight-loss plateaus! When you do the same workout all the time, your body gets used to it & becomes efficient. You’ll perform better, which is great, but eventually, the adaptation means that you’ll burn fewer calories even if you’re doing the same amount & intensity of exercise! That’s why it’s important to challenge our body in ways that it isn’t used to because it’ll force you to work harder as your body adjusts to new activity.
- Changing up your routine also prevents overuse injuries. If you’re doing workouts that entail a lot of repetitive motions, such as kicking, punching, running, you may eventually develop repetitive strain injury. By mixing up your activities, you give those overused muscles, joints & ligaments a chance to rest & recover before getting them back in action.
- Building new muscles! Do a little bit of everything – cardio, strength training, HITT, stretching & endurance training! This will help balance everything out &
- ensure that you’re building a strong heart, lasting endurance, lean muscle & both a powerful & strong upper & lower body.
- If you find you’re getting bored of your workouts, IT’S TIME TO SWITCH ‘EM UP. Like all things in life, it’s important to be a adventurous, step out of comfort zones & try new things. This will keep you motivated & engaged. You don’t want to become so used to a workout that you become a robot – you want to stimulate not only your body but your mind to b.
- When too many days in a row go by that you’d rather hit the snooze button than hit the gym, it’s definitely time to make a change. It may take a little bit of trial and error before you find a new workout you enjoy, but stick with it until you do. Then, change up your routine so that you include several types of activity every week. You’ll see better results and have a lot more fun doing it!
Be patient. Don’t expect results overnight & don’t get down on yourself if they are coming slower than you want them to.
I know, being patient isn’t easy when you make the effort to SHOW UP to a workout on a daily basis (or at least a few times a week), let alone get through a workout, break a hell of a sweat & do all of this knowing you’re coming back in a day or two. We’re all human & we have an innate nature to seek instant gratification. We act & we want results & more importantly, we want them now.
But unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Whenever you start something new, whether it be healthier eating, exercising, a new job, a university degree, a new relationship, it takes time to get used to, to ease into & for it to become a part of who you are & your lifestyle. More importantly, it takes time to see results. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A QUICK FIX OR A MAGIC FORMULA when it comes to exercise, adopting a healthier lifestyle or life in general. If there was, we’d all be living our optimal perfect lives & life would be boring & we’d never be faced with struggle, challenge or adversity, and in turn, we’d never get to feel happy, proud, accomplished, successful, motivated, determined or ambitious.
All this to say: No, you won’t feel better, heal your gut or replenish all those vitamins & minerals you are lacking overnight by simply eating healthy for a week. No, you won’t get a six pack after three ab workouts. No, you won’t recover from an eating disorder or mental illness overnight or after one therapy session. No, you aren’t going to become a doctor, lawyer, dentist, nutritionist, teacher, physiotherapist, or businessman/woman without hard work, dedication & a heck of a lot of studying. It’s life. It’s reality. Hard works leads to results. But in order to reap those results, not only do you have to work hard, but you have to be patient. Hard work doesn’t mean you work for a week or two & then get everything you ever dreamed of. Hard work & patience go hand in hand in the sense that it is LONG-LASTING HANDWORK & COMMITMENT that will allow you to not only get results but to make those results PERMANENT & a part of your life & who you are.
Part of being patient is setting realistic, attainable goals, not pushing yourself too hard or beyond your limits & commending yourself for your progress, even if it’s little, even if it’s just a baby step. As I mentioned previously, as human beings, we like gratification & satisfaction. Get that gratification & satisfaction from yourself. It’s the best way to stay motivated.
Be consistent. Make it a routine & lifestyle.
Take breaks if you feel you need them. Listen to your body.
Don’t workout to compensate for food consumption. Work out, first & foremost, to FEEL GOOD & don’t reduce food consumption because you’re exercising.
Stay hydrated both before, during & after your workouts.
Not drinking enough before a workout, forgetting to sip during your workout & not rehydrating after your workout is a recipe for disaster & by disaster, I mean DEHYDRATION!!
Staying hydrated before your workout is crucial in ANTICIPATION for all the sweat loss. It’s also crucial while exercising is crucial because said sweat loss that you wouldn’t otherwise get if compared to day to day activities like working at a desk or watching TV. Staying hydrated during a workout can also help fight fatigue & prolong your endurance! And lastly, in the same way that you need to rehydrate your skin after a workout, you need to rehydrate that body! Depending on how much you sweat, after a workout, we all run the risk of getting dehydrated & a dehydrated body ain’t fun & more so, also means a dehydrated mind, which means, headaches, a lack of focus & concentration! SO DRINK UP BABIES!
Workout at YOUR OPTIMAL TIME, whenever you feel like you have the most energy! Listen to your body’s clock!