#1 Cut down on alcohol
Did you know that alcohol can reduce the GH by up to as much as 70% in the 3 days following? GH is the hormone responsible for stimulating cell growth and optimal bone growth. It helps us grow and maintain muscle mass.
Having a couple of drinks occasionally shouldn’t compromise your fitness goals, but consider bringing down intake to an absolute minimum. What do I mean by occasionally? As a rough estimate, one drink every couple of weeks for women and two for men would be ideal. This may not be a one-size-fits-all recipe, but just a guideline.
This isn’t the recommendation in a health context alone, as we are also taking into consideration that you are trying to build muscle and change your physique.Additionally, add the negative effects alcohol has on recovery times to the equation when determining how many drinks a month are ideal for you. The main goal is to avoid set-backs on progress.
A piece of advice? Just don't drink after workouts! Remember, a lot of drinks are loaded with sugar, meaning extra empty calories that you certainly don’t need.
#2 Put on your workout clothes once a day
Put on workout clothes once per day, whether it is after work or before (if you don’t work super early), in order to motivate you to get a workout in your day! Lay the clothes out the night before or pack it in a gym bag and stick it in the car. So many times in the past, after work or any occasional event had that day, I wanted to do an outdoor activity or go to the gym but I knew that if I went straight home, it was very unlikely that I would come back out. No matter what I told myself in the car - that I was to go inside, change, and drive back to that park or gym that, not to mention, were both on my way home - it just wasn't going to happen!
Keeping a clean set of workout clothes and gym shoes every day or every week will make it easier to try. After all, it is consistent effort we are after. Finding shortcuts is necessary to success, in this context at least. If you work from home or do not have a set work schedule, make it a custom to put on exercise clothes when you wake up in the morning to help you feel the initial motivational boost!
#3 Energy filled snacks!
Too tired after work? Stick a protein bar and an apple (or fruit of choice) in that same bag and a naturally flavored energy packet that you can mix into a bottle of water. It is easy to hold our breath throughout the day especially under high amounts of stress, so make it a habit to breath deeply often to keep your energy levels up. Also, try to give yourself a few minutes in the car before going into your workout facility or out in the open (if you like jogging trails like me). :)
#4 Create the right environment for yourself
As you’re sitting in the car having your pre-workout snack, this is also the perfect time to mentally prepare yourself for that next hour of crunch time. Consider putting an uplifting playlist and go through a made up mental routine in your head. Sounds over-the-top but honestly sometimes we have to create the environment we need in order to get ourselves to do what we really want (when we don't temporarily want to). Also, often times, a few deep breaths is all we need to get a boost of extra energy.
I am sure there are plenty other routines or tips you’ve already tried that have worked for you. We would love to know your tips as well! The important thing is to adapt an idea to your own life, and make it your own perfect formula. Creating this discipline in your life will soon enough become a habit, but its important to give it time and be consistent so that your body becomes accustomed to receive high levels of satisfaction that are meant to be felt after a great workout.
This increase of reward frequency trains our brain to achieve habit formation. Furthermore, the domino effect you will experience from building exercise habits will likely translate into every other area of your life, so its important to plan ahead and find creative ways to prioritize and make it work for you.
#5 Cut down on refined sugars
Keeping your insulin levels moderate throughout the day will prevent you from crashing. It is therefore best to stick to wholesome snacks loaded with fiber and protein to prevent more sugar cravings throughout the day and possibly compromise the work you're putting into your workouts!
#6 Engage with fitness/health research
Exposing yourself to the latest fitness research will not only keep you motivated but knowledgeable. This could be through physical books, magazines, Instagram accounts or podcasts, which might inspire you to learn more about other kinds of exercises or activity types. You can find pro athletes, nutritionists, or trainers who motivate and inspire you to keep workouts varied and interesting. Experimenting with different workout programs might lead you to find your true passion in fitness.
You never know what might spark your interest! Downloading audio books is an easy way to keep yourself informed and engaged. It might even spark a new conversation with a gym buddy and increase your confidence in fitness knowledge.
This new year calls for a true fitness transformation, no matter how big or small the goal!
Joanna Gil, BS Nutrition