A Guide to Personalizing Fitness
Fitness is very personal and individual. We all have different goals, body types, lifestyles… There is no one easy answer that fits everyone. And it is also a journey. You have to be committed for the long haul; in a way that fits your life and makes you happy. It takes time to change your body, and I’m here to support each of you on that journey and to tell you – you CAN do it. So, here are a few key aspects I consider when creating a personalized training and nutrition plan. My hope is you take away some good information that helps you be more successful in reaching your goals.
The biggest thing is to start at the very beginning – The WHY. The first question I ask a new client is, “If you could have your body and your life be any way you want, the biggest fantasy in your imagination, what would that look like?” Defining that goal, really being specific about what you want from your body and how that will impact your life is what gives you the motivation to stay dedicated and work hard. It may seem like a fantasy at first, but you’ll be surprised by what you and your body can do.
Next, there are four key factors I look at when developing any fitness plan: Nutrition, Movement, Recovery, and Mindset.
When it comes to nutrition you have to consider Quality and Quantity. Let’s start with Quality.
Quality may seem obvious, eat your vegetables and good protein, right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that. Unfortunately, overfarming year-after-year robs the soil of nutrients, and in turn, many of the veggies we eat are not providing us the quality nutrients we think they are. It’s always best to choose organic foods to get the most benefit from what you eat. Better input = better output. Choosing organic is especially important for meat. You want to avoid pesticides and added hormones that can wreak havoc on our systems. I also recommend adding supplementation to your diet to help fill in the gaps – Omega-3s and a quality Multivitamin are at the top of my list.
Something that is often not considered when talking about nutrition is your overall gut health. Your gut impacts so much of how your body functions and how you feel: blood pressure, hormone balance, fat stores, sugar cravings... All of this can stress your system and cause inflammation, weight gain and loss of energy. Not to mention that if your gut isn’t healthy, all that good food may not matter if you can’t properly digest and absorb the nutrients.
The good news is that what you eat can help get your gut in shape. Plants rich in polyphenols and flavonoids are good for your health and gut microbiome and are abundant in many fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. Think red onion, apples, citrus fruits, red fruits, soybeans, grapes, cocoa, strawberries, raspberries, spinach, flax, sesame seeds, and whole grains… just to name a few. Really think about mixing up the colors of the fruits and vegetables you eat – I like to say Mother Nature made colors for a reason.
It’s can also be really beneficial to add a probiotic to your supplementation routine. Keeping your gut healthy can hugely impact your overall health, and help you reach those fitness goals.
It’s true that you can have too much of a good thing. When trying to up our fitness level and maybe lose some weight there can be a tendency to under-eat. If I cut 200 calories a day, cutting 500 must be even better, right? The answer really is, no. You need to think about the long-term effect undereating can have on your body. When we restrict our calorie intake too much, we stress the body and can cause it to go into “code red,” taking measures to protect itself, such as increasing fat storage, inflammation and a slowing of the metabolism. Basically, the opposite effect you’re looking for. I advise only decreasing your calorie intake by about 300 calories. Remember, changing your body is a journey and will take time, you need to make sure you have enough calories to fuel growing muscles and the energy to keep up with your day.
Movement is about two things – moving efficiently and often.
Our bodies were meant to move in certain ways. Just watch a baby; they do a perfect squat. Seriously! We go through life stressing our body and developing bad habits that can lead to injury – in the gym and out. The most important thing is to learn how to move correctly. Exercise is not just about moving, but really mastering the art of how to move in order to get maximum results. If you’re lifting weights, but not doing the exercise properly, you’re not going to develop the muscles you want to. You are also possibly creating an imbalance that can lead to injury. If you’re trying to develop your hamstrings but inadvertently keep working your quads, you’re creating an asymmetry that can lead to serious injury. Once you learn how to move properly within a workout you can then adjust frequency, weight, and volume to match your goals and fitness level.
The next step is to move often. Our bodies weren’t built to be sedentary, and physical and mental health can be improved by being more active. I recommend a mix of low, medium and high-intensity cardio. You need that balance to prevent overexertion and unnecessary stress on your body and your heart. A good mix can build a healthy, strong heart and lead to burning more calories in the gym and throughout your day.
Exercise is a stress on the body. That stress is what creates change, but overdoing it negatively affects our body and hurts our fitness goals. It’s important to focus on helping the body recover from stress/exercise. Every day you need to make sure you are sleeping enough, eating enough, taking your supplements and drinking enough water. These are crucial to reaching those goals you set for yourself. Once you’ve got that going, start introducing other methods of recovery into your routine – stretching, deep breathing, massage, even give yourself a break and read a book. You are giving your mind and body time to recover and teaching it to have better hormone balance.
The mind is the most powerful tool we have. Everything starts with a thought, when we grab onto that and commit and focus, we have action, and from that action there is outcome. So, spend some time really thinking about what you want, what will make you happy and grab onto that knowing you can make it happen.