By Nate Solomon
Becoming physically fit becomes an impossible ordeal only if you let it. Don't set yourself up for failure. Getting fit can actually be fun. You just need to approach it from the right perspective.
Human nature makes each of us resistant to big lifestyle changes. Plus, the bigger the lifestyle change, the harder it will be to maintain. The idea is to make small changes. Before you know it, you'll want to make additional changes and they'll build upon each other.
You need to be aware of the 3 major components of becoming fit: strength training, aerobic conditioning and nutrition. There are many ways to increase your strength and muscle mass. Don't worry, you won't become "muscle-bound". Simply put, the more muscle you have on your body the more calories you will burn. It's a win win situation.
Another big part of the equation is aerobic exercise. Your endurance will increase, you'll feel more energetic during the day and you'll sleep better at night. Aerobic exercise (of any type) will help you burn those unwanted calories. Another win win situation.
Finally, the piece that completes the puzzle and pulls everything together is nutrition. You need to know a few simple things that will make a big difference in your fitness development. And, you need to be aware of the negative aspects of nutrition.
The concept of progressive resistance is the basis of strength training. Let me explain. For each weight training exercise, determine a weight that you can lift for 8 to 12 repetitions (a repetition is 1 full exercise movement ) for 3 sets (a set is a non-stop lifting of the weight). If you don't have actual weights, use any other weighted object. Use your imagination. You don't have to belong to a gym.
With consistent workouts, you will become stronger and able to perform 12 reps for each of the 3 sets. Now it's time to increase the weight. You've just accomplished the progressive resistance concept. As you get stronger, you progressively increase the weight. The only way to get stronger is to be consistent and apply this strength concept. If you're a beginner, you'll see improvements in as little as 4 to 6 weeks.
Aerobic training is another important component of becoming fit. Aerobic simply means "requiring the use of oxygen". In other words, while you're exercising (walking, jogging, biking, gardening, etc), your body uses the oxygen you breathe to convert your stored calories into expended energy. The key to aerobic training is exercising at a level where you can carry on a conversation.
This "conversation level" is best for breaking down stored fat for energy. Isn't it the fat that we all want to get rid of? Also, this level provides the least amount of stress on your cardiovascular system (heart muscle) and still promotes increased endurance, improving your heart pumping capacity. Most of us have heard about the 30 minute 3 times per week rule. Well, it's still a good rule to follow.
The important compliment to strength training and aerobic conditioning is nutrition. If you don't eat right, you won't maximize your exercise efforts. If you think about it, you probably know what constitutes a healthy diet: a variety of whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables, low- or non-fat dairy products, lean meats. Ideally, you need to eat frequent, small meals. Here's a neat phrase that describes the best eating pattern for each day: eat like a king in the morning, a prince in the afternoon, and a pauper at night.
Those are 3 keys to nutrition, without getting into any detail. I realize that we are all human and, frankly, it may be hard to follow these rules. All I'm asking is that you become aware of these ideas and try to make small changes here and there. You really will benefit in the long run. I have a week-long challenge for you.
As an experiment, write down everything you eat (include the time of day and number of calories). Don't make it too hard, just use approximations. You can get fairly good numbers by reading food labels. For fruit, use a conservative 90 calories per piece. At the end of the week, read over the 3 keys. Could you have made some better choices? Did you actually need to eat what you did? Remember this, every 3,500 calories equals 1 pound of body weight.
If you wanted to lose weight, could you cut out 500 calories per day? With a little less eating and a little more exercising, you can do it with no problem. In 1 week you've lost 1 pound. In 2 months, 8 pounds. In 6 months, 24 pounds. You take it from there. It really is simple.
With this three-pronged attack, you're sure to greatly improve your level of fitness. Here's a warning; do not become a slave to being fit. You'll never get there. Take your time, relax and have fun, be consistent and patient. Before long, you'll be lean and mean.
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