The month of March has arrived, the swarm of New Years resolutioners has dwindled away from the gym, but for those of you who have been lucky enough to have made it this far, you may be wondering how you can push your fitness to the next level and achieve the body you desire for the up and coming summer months.
You have stuck to your commitment of going to the gym 5 or 6 days per week, have started eating healthier foods and realized that it isn’t so bad, but are at a point where your progress has slowed, motivation is tapering off and you feel like you may fall back into your old habits. Here are 5 things you may want to take a look at if you are really willing to take things to the next level:
1.) Nutrition/Caloric Intake
It is all fine and dandy to start swapping out the fully leaded soda’s for some good old H20, work on increasing your protein intake, and start cutting back on sugar and carbs, but if you really want to set yourself up for some progress you need to determine how many calories and more specifically the ratio of proteins/carbs/fat you are taking in. The way to do this? You guessed it!!! Learning to read nutrition labels on everything you take in, weighing out your portions and holding yourself accountable to being honest with your portions you consume.
Often times it is not that we simply need to eat less and burn more calories, but that we may actually need to consistently eat more to help us better recover after strength training sessions and to help our metabolic rate improve by adding more lean muscle tissue.
2.) Lack of progress in the Weight Room
Sure you may be going to the gym 5-6 days per week, but are you consistently getting stronger or seeing your aerobic capacity improve? The way to figure this out is, you guessed it again! Track and measure your progress. If you bench pressed 100lbs for 10 reps the week prior, you can not go in and do the same thing each week and expect to gain muscle mass, strength and improve body composition. You must add weight to the bar, become better at engaging the muscles needed for specific movements, increase tension and overload on the muscles, or add more volume. No it does not count if you add 20-30lbs to the movement, but decrease your range of motion substantially or drastically reduce the amount of tension and control you have over moving that weight.
To add to this, if you aren’t first tracking your food intake, you will hit a point where it becomes very difficult to get stronger if you aren’t eating enough calories to support adequate recovery from these training sessions.
3.) You Believe you are being Consistent, but in Reality you are not
You are your own worst enemy. If you believe and tell yourself everyday that you are tracking your food consistently, training with the right intensity and doing everything in your power to move forward, but in reality you are not doing what you say, then unfortunately you are fighting a losing battle. You may think that being consistent for 5 or 6 days per week and then allowing yourself a day of binge eating/binge drinking/binge whatever you do is the best method and healthy, but in reality you are taking your progress from the week and taking two steps back. On top of this come Sunday you feel like a complete bag of shit and have lost the motivation to keep working towards your goals.
Take a step back and ask yourself if you are really being as consistent as you possibly can or are there times when you are adding in extra little bites/snacks and days where you fail to recognize/realize how detrimental the binging can be to your progress.
4.) You are over worked/over stressed
Our society has reached a level where with technology it makes it so much more possible to take on and do more than we realize we can handle. With instant email contact, facebook, and the vast amount of information our brains process each day, it makes it very easy to maintain and run at a high level of stress each day. This type of overworking and large amount of stress placed on our bodies severely hinders our ability to recover from the additional stresses of weight training, cardio training and any sort of fitness routine. We all need to take time to remember that it is not possible to complete and do everthing in one day and that we do need to take time to relax our minds and ensure we are getting proper sleep.
It is great to work hard, have a goal and do everything in your power to accomplish it, but we also need to be mindful that a huge part of working towards that goal is realizing the importance of rest & recovery instead of always pushing forward when inside we know it is time to pull back the reigns.
5.) It Simply isn’t a Priority
We are all given a certain amount of time in a day and with that time we can do what we so choose. Many people wish and hope and love the idea of being in great shape, but unfortunately other things in their life take priority over the work that needs to be put in to achieve their ideal physique. The type of work I speak about includes: weighing your foods, educating yourself, striving to become better and stronger in the gym each day, setting huge goals, and working at completing this on a daily basis, 24 hours/day. Now you may think that many things in life are important such as family, friends, new experiences, etc, but from my experience as soon as you fully take care of yourself, reach a point where you are completely self-confident and are able to continually progress and become better, all of the most important things in life seem to fall into place and it becomes much easier to properly nourish these relationships.
“You can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself” – Mary Mazzer
Stay Focused, Stay Strong, and Stay True to Yourself!