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MAXIMISING YOUR WORKOUTS

Updated: Apr 1, 2019



Today, I wanted to talk to you about going BEAST MODE: getting so "into the zone" of your workouts that you power through without it feeling like effort. Or at least your effort is exhilarating rather than exhausting. The goal is to maximize fat loss, strength, and endurance.

You might be squinting your eyes at what you're reading and thinking I've gone mad. Cardio? Exhilarating? If you're thinking this, then read on, because I have YOU in mind when I write this.

In recent years, I took a BIG break from exercising. I went from being a fit bunny where exercise was my job, to having had ENOUGH of the crazy pressure of staying fit (and instead spending two years sitting behind a laptop to work on my book and develop my inner "girl boss"). But then I realized that a life without fitness was making me miserable. I did a complete 180 TWICE in two years.

Exercising too much was making me miserable.

Not exercising was making me miserable.

Being somewhere in between was making me confused.

I wanted to share my mistakes with you so that hopefully they might spare you two or three years of being caught in the middle on either end of the spectrum.

MISTAKE NUMBER 1 - NO PAIN, NO GAIN

I would love to find out who coined this saying and beat them over the head with it. About three years ago, when things like Zumba were "not enough" anymore, the trend seemed to be that you had no other choice but to turn yourself into a hybrid cross-fitter, weightlifter, squatting champion, or Olympian. Otherwise, you just were wasting your time. There was a stronger and stronger feeling that unless you were in pain (on the day of, and on the next day), you were simply "not pushing yourself enough." The truth is that not only is this dangerous, but it can seriously make you feel miserable and unmotivated. This means that if you hit a slump, you will just put off exercise altogether because you don't feel like being in pain. Plus, if you're pushing yourself too hard, you will spend more time recovering than exercising, meaning you will significantly reduce your workouts throughout the week.

I can tell you that three years after feeling "enough is enough" because I felt the pressure of "no pain, no gain," I am pushing myself more than ever. I have never exercised more or felt as elated and pain-free during and after exercise despite having achieved some of the best results.

HACK: Music is, without a doubt, the best way to keep you motivated and keep you naturally elated throughout your workout. If you're not doing this, you're missing a trick. It doesn't matter what music you're listening to, but make sure that next time you're at the gym or working out, you have some great tunes pumping in your ears. Let yourself travel through the music. Let it carry your movement in whatever workout you're doing. Wi-Fi headphones are a great invention. Or blast it on a boom box if you're in a group. Not only it will give you a high, but it will also stop you from hearing yourself panting, which, let's face it, is not the most motivating sound!

MISTAKE NUMBER 2 - GIVING UP AT THE FIRST BARRIER

Exercise should never be painful, but there is a barrier of discomfort that you have to push to see the other side. This was my second mistake. Instead of hitting that wall once and pushing through, I kept stopping at the first barrier for a break and hitting it over and over again. This is what was making my workouts so uncomfortable. My workouts looked like something like this:

5 minutes of coping, 5 minutes of, "OMG, I can't do this!" - Break

5 minutes of coping, 5 minutes of, "OMG, I can't do this!" - Break

5 minutes of coping, 5 minutes of, "OMG, I can't do this!" - Break

Repeat.

It's like you're stalling and stopping continuously. What's happening to your body? Your body is in the process of switching gears, from using only readily-available energy to having to make more energy by starting to break down fat (aerobic respiration). The process of switching to a new energy system is what burns like hell on earth and makes you want to stop. If you keep stopping and starting like I used to do, you'll put yourself through this four or five times during a workout.

Instead, you want to use whatever you have in your power to blast through those five minutes of, "OMG, I can't do this!" Remember, feeling uncomfortable is ok, but pain is not! Once you push through those five minutes, it's a whole different story:

Five minutes of coping, five minutes of, "C'mon, you can get through this!" And then 30 minutes of, "Yeeeeaaaah, I got this!!"

HACK: First of all, as mentioned, music is the best way to keep you blasting through the workout, especially during those crucial five minutes. If you keep working out without music (or the wrong kind), and you're still feeling unmotivated, I'm sorry, I can't help you. FIND. YOUR. JAM. Secondly, make sure that you have enough energy for your workout, and I don't mean sugar-laden energy or sports drinks. I was never one to like supplements or protein shakes, but I can tell you that a serious dose of caffeine will get you through those tough five minutes like your pants are on fire. I now swear by taking a good dose of pre-workout boost, or a double espresso 30 minutes before I start my workouts. WARNING: Check with your doctor or nutritionist before taking any supplements and make sure they are right for your age, fitness, and body type. Remember that the supplements themselves won't make you lose fat. It's how you make the most of that extra energy that will make the difference.

MISTAKE NUMBER 3 - COMPETING WITH OTHERS

The gym can be a glorious place to be, but it can also be a place of dread. People around you in a class (or most of the time, even the instructor!) can push you beyond your limits. Everyone's fitness is different. It's as diverse as skin color, height, accents, or odor (yuck), but here's the thing. You can't see, hear, or smell someone's fitness (Eau de Pushup, anyone?). What we see is people running faster, squatting lower, lifting heavier, and jumping higher than us. Tell me if this sound familiar:

BEFORE CLASS: Decide to go to the gym. Group Conditioning sounds like fun. At least it will keep me motivated to go since there will be others and I’ll have someone telling me what to do.

DURING CLASS: OMG, these pushups are KILLING ME. That girl in the red top must be inhuman, she looks similar to me, but she’s going twice as fast. Everyone is doing this. Must. Keep up.

AFTER CLASS: That was hell, but I got through it

DAY AFTER: Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Can't move. Must rest.

2ND DAY AFTER: Still sore. Might go to yoga instead of cardio. It's still exercise.

3RD DAY AFTER: Oh yay, weekend! No exercises.

What you've achieved is one day of pain out of four days, whereas your week should look more like:

BEFORE CLASS: Okay, group exercise, here we go. I have to remember to push myself within MY limits, so I will ask the instructor for an easier progression or to keep movements smaller so I can get through them with good technique and control.

DURING CLASS: Okay, so I'm not doing my movements as big as the Red Top Girl. I'm a bit sore, but I can get through this with full control. Yay me.

b Feeling very happy with myself. I got through the class and pushed myself, but I kept in control. Let's stretch before I go home so I'm not in pain.

DAY AFTER: Feeling mighty fine, let's do this again!

HACK: Being a fitness professional myself who likes to attend other classes for my training, I can tell you that the majority of class instructors all make the same mistake. They want to push you as hard as they can because they fear that it's too easy for you. This comes from the insecurity of being outperformed by colleagues. This fear often overrides the need to offer progressions for the class, but sometimes it's ego, too. If you feel that a class is too intense, next time, approach the class instructor privately before the class and kindly ask them to offer some easier progressions so that you can develop your strength and stamina gradually. Trust me, they will be relieved that you're finding the class too hard!

TO SUM UP: To find your "BEAST MODE" when it comes to workouts and make the most out of your time at the gym and your overall week, you want to:

• Do a workout that YOU like doing, not just because it's what everyone else is doing.

• Give yourself extra motivation through music. Find your jam and blast it!

• Feed your body with the right fuel and extra energy boosts to push you further.

• Blast through that wall where your body is "switching gears" and conquer what's behind it.

• Follow your progression so that you're gently sore but never in pain.

I can guarantee that once you find the right balance between these five elements, you will find your own nirvana through exercise. You will start to look forward to your workouts, love every second of them, and rejoice at the results!

#workout #cardio #fatburn #weightloss #workouts

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