No matter what training level they’re at, almost everyone wants to move up. Whether you’re a world-class athlete or a first-time 5K runner, you’re probably facing some of the same challenges and roadblocks to improving your fitness level. We sat down with New Balance Fitness Ambassador Holly Perkins to hear about some of the recurring questions and concerns that come up as she trains celebrities, athletes, and civilians, and what to do about them.
Holly’s top questions were:
How can I get the most out of my fitness routine?
Why am I not seeing results?
How can I improve my current fitness level?
Are carbohydrates good or bad for me?
Please help me get rid of this belly fat!
“First, sit down and identify your fitness goals,” says Holly.
For example, do you want to:
- Lose body fat
- Lose weight
- Tone up
- Increase muscle mass
- Improve your overall fitness, shape and ability
We’d all like to achieve all of these goals, but your fitness program should be built around one or two specifically. This will help shape your routine to achieve maximum results.
”I encourage people to always get started a little more slowly, ” Holly explains. “Your body will respond better and faster, because of the hormonal changes, if you start every other day.” Split your strength training and cardiovascular workouts to different exercise days to give your body time to recover. In two to four weeks you will start to see results and improvement toward your chosen goal!
“Emotional improvements happen before your body visibly changes and are just as important motivational factors!”
Recognize your decreased stress level, better energy and more restful sleep. Physical changes will soon appear. Create a workout calendar and/or maintain a log to inspire accountability and track changes.
If you have suddenly stopped seeing improved results, it may be time to adjust your routine and challenge your body in a new way. Choose one or all three of these ways to see more progress:
- Give yourself a recovery week with little or moderate exercise.
- Change the intensity of your workout.
- Completely change what you are doing and try something new. Classes are a great way to introduce a new stimulus.
There are two misconceptions that people seem to have regarding fitness:
First, most people think they will wake up one day and be energized and inspired to work out. Your body gets better at whatever you give it. From Holly: “You must embrace a week or two of discomfort – not pain! – so that the body can become better at this activity. Only then will you wake up and desire exercise – because your body is now good at that level of activity.”
Second, you don’t get fit during exercise; you get fit during recovery. During sleep your body responds to that day’s exercise stimulus and rebuilds. The next day you wake up a new body. You must continue applying the stimulus/recovery cycle to keep seeing improved fitness.
“We are fat burning machines at rest and throughout the day, and any increase in heart rate will signal a greater need of carbohydrates.” The problem is that most people eat too many carbs. Your body must have a balanced ratio of macronutrients – ideally around 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.
“You want to choose lower glycemic carbs, like truly whole grains berries, apples, vegetables and beans.” Check your bread’s list of ingredients for whole grains. You don’t want refined or wheat flour. One slice of bread should have at least two grams of fiber.
“The first thing that must be addressed to remove belly fat is simple weight loss.”
If you need to lose 5-10 pounds, then that’s the cause of your belly fat. Decrease caloric intake and increase caloric expenditure through exercise, and you could see a difference after losing just five pounds!
If you are within a healthy weight range, exercise and eat well, you may have to change your fitness routine or lifestyle one of these ways to trim your belly:
- Try more moderate intensity cardio work. Moderate cardio calls on fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
- Stick to those ‘good’ carbs. “In basic form, eating ‘bad’ carbs will cause you to store more of your ingested calories as fat! If you eat a lower glycemic carb in substitution of a higher glycemic carb, you will burn more of the ingested calories as fuel! Pretty cool science!“
- Get more quality sleep! Poor and insufficient sleep causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which causes water retention, belly bloat and facilitates fat storage.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol contains almost double the calories per gram compared to other carbohydrates. “You can eat 300 calories of vegetables or 300 calories of alcohol. Because of the digestion mechanism, you will store more of those 300 calories as fat when coming from alcohol!” Aim for no more than two servings of alcohol per week.
More tips and content from Fitness Ambassador Holly Perkins:
- 10 Rules Of Fitness
- Fitness Videos For Every Level, With Exercise TV
- Yes, Pink Ribbon Dreams Do Come True