A special thank you to my lovely husband Michael A. Johnson, DPT, ATC who contributed to the article. Due to its medical nature and his background he contributed to the article to make sure it is medically sound.
In this day and age we are all looking for a quick fix. Something that won’t take too long or cost too much. This has made its way into our fitness routine. If you spend five minutes on Pinterest searching for fitness routines most of what you will see are shortcuts to a fitter body. Ten minute workout for a fitter you! Six moves to blast away belly fat! Lose ten pounds in a week! The problem with this approach to fitness is it does not allow for lasting results. The reality of a quick fix is it doesn’t work. In today’s post I am going to share with you why that is true and my philosophy on health and fitness.
Quick fix fitness is not fitness. It is a false shortcut presented in such a way that gets you to believe in it. If you look on Pinterest for fitness tips or workouts, you usually see a list of exercises accompanied by a picture of a fit, well-toned individual. While the exercises themselves are good things to incorporate in a workout routine, the exercises alone will do you no good. What I mean by that is health and fitness starts in the kitchen. If you are expecting a seven-day squat challenge to give you legs like Carrie Underwood you have false expectations.
Making wise, healthy choices in the kitchen is half the battle. Here are a couple of ways I set myself up for success in that area- I stock my house with healthy items. Very rarely do I come home with sweets or junk food because I know that if they are in the house I will eat them. By not buying them I remove the temptation all together. Also, I seldom go out to eat. Most of the time when I go out to eat I can’t help but think, “Why did I pay for this? I could have made it better and saved money.” When I get tempted into eating out I remind myself of that and choose to cook at home instead. You may be thinking, “Well that’s good for you but I stink at cooking.” And to that I will say – Practice makes perfect. You either want the healthy lifestyle or you don’t. Be real with yourself. Seek out a friend or a relative that is a good cook and ask them to teach you. Plus if you cook with a friend or love one you will be making memories. That is always a good thing!
Knowing that I did not hit the lottery when it comes to genetics, I have to set my expectation accordingly. I will never be healthy and be a size two. I have hips and a booty and a wide rib cage. That is my reality and I am OK with that. Once I recognize my reality I then set expectations. Now that’s not to say that if you are a size 14 you could never be a size 8. If you are willing to put in the hard work you most certainly can achieve your goal. Just know that going from a size 14 to a size 2 is not realistic or healthy.
Now, back to workouts. The key to seeing a difference in the way you look and feel is lasting fitness. What I mean by this is you have to keep working out. Going to the gym for a couple of weeks is not going to make you look like a Victoria’s Secret model.
Side Note: Victoria’s Secret models have three things going for them. 1) Genetics. They have been blessed with very good genes. You cannot fake that. 2) Constant workouts. I have done research into the workouts they do and how often they do them. It is probably safe to say that they workout six days a week for multiple hours at a time. 3) Personal trainer. They have someone motivating them to keep going. That is huge!
I believe in the long game. I believe that in order to have the most fulfilling life, when it comes to fitness, is lean muscle and flexibility. When I am 70 years old I want to walk, get myself out of a chair, and get up and down off the floor. They seem like simple tasks now but the older we get the more difficult the simple tasks become when our bodies are not properly cared for. When I work out I do high rep low weight. What that means is if I am doing bicep curls, I will use a five-pound weight (low weight) and do 30-40 repetitions (high rep). That approach encourages lean muscle just like a dancer. Being a dancer myself my workouts are tailored for lean muscle.
The other vital component to my workout is stretching. When a workout consists of lifting weights, the muscles are in constant contraction. Stretching lengthens the muscles which aids in flexibility and prevents injury. If I am constantly contracting my muscles and never lengthening I will eventually become injured and lose a lot of range of motion, which is bad!
The most important thing to workout is the heart. When the heart is neglected it will negatively impact everything else. How do you work your heart? Cardio. Go for a walk, run, or jog. Take a Zumba class or a kickboxing class. Any activity that gets your heart rate up is cardio.
It’s important to know how to figure out your maximum heart rate. This number is the absolute maximum your heart rate needs to get to. Don’t work out a sustained amount at this intensity! 75% of Max heart rate or so is a good place to maintain your workout for fat burning. This can be calculated by taking 220 and subtracting your age. For example, if you are 50 years old, 220-50 = 170 beats per minute. Most wrist-worn fitness trackers nowadays have a heart rate monitor built-in. This can be a good tool for tracking your heart rate. Remember, though, these are not perfect so they will only give you a rough idea of your actual heart rate.
One more thing on this subject- don’t believe a 7 minute workout that claims to burn fat! It takes time at a sustained intensity for the body to convert fat into energy.
Think of your body as a DIY project. It will take time and requires patience and love. I have never done a DIY project that worked out perfectly. It always takes longer than expected, the details matter, and you cannot skip a step. Don’t fall prey to the “quick and easy” workouts because the reality of the quick fix fitness is disappointment. You will always be disappointed with the fact that they will not work the way they are advertised. Give yourself a little grace and a lot of love. If you want a body that lasts then you need healthy habits that are lasting.
SAVE FOR LATER!