It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted on my blog so I’m coming at you with an informative post! I’m sure we’ve all seen those hilarious gym fail videos on Instagram or YouTube, and trust me, I’ve definitely had my fair share of those moments, but I have embraced failure because it made me stronger and more resilient. Plus, that’s just part of life and the sames goes for the gym! For my first two years on my fitness journey, I hardly made any progress and I became really frustrated. My goals were to lose overall body fat and to gain muscle. I began to lose body fat but hadn’t gained nearly as much muscle as I had hoped for. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t reaching my goals after all of the work I had put in. I was going to the gym 4-5 days a week with little improvement.
However, when I started studying exercise science in college, I began to understand why I hadn’t been reaching my goals. In this blog post I’m going to share with you my own personal experiences, and all of the things you are doing wrong inside and outside of the gym.
I’m going to start off on what I believe is the most important topic. Like I said above, in my first two years at the gym I didn’t see much progress and that’s because my diet was absolutely horrible. I thought that I could out train a burger and fries. Oh how I was so wrong. When I started becoming more conscious about what I ate, everything changed and I started seeing results.
A balanced diet consists of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Notice I didn’t mention dairy for several reasons. One, I am lactose intolerant so I can’t have it anyway. Two, most people believe one of the main sources of calcium is derived from dairy products, but you can actually get calcium from other sources like: dark leafy greens, oranges, almonds, and seaweed to name a few. Three, because recent studies have shown that the dairy industry is extremely unethical and unhealthy. Studies show that milk is packed with antibiotics and hormones – which is a whole other story (I will write about this in another post).
I prep my meals to ensure I’m getting in all of my food groups, if you want to read more about that you can check out my Food Prep blog post. I will also go more into depth about eating clean in an upcoming blog post.
PRE AND POST WORKOUT MEALS
Keeping with the theme of healthy eating, your pre and post workouts are crucial to your actual workout. The purpose for a pre workout meal is to:
- Reduce muscle glycogen depletion.
- Reduce muscle protein breakdown.
- Reduce post workout cortisol levels.
Ideally, you should eat something small 1-2 hours before your workout to ensure you’re fueling your body properly AND you have digested your food before you exercise. Carbs are one of the largest sources of energy for the body, so you want to make sure you aren’t skipping out on the carbs (good ones of course!). You also want to eat something with protein because that is the building block to our muscles and you want to make sure you are supplying your body with the essential amino acids it needs to build and repair muscles. Good pre workout meals include:
- A peanut butter and banana or PBJ sandwich.
- Greek yogurt with berries.
- Oatmeal with almond milk and fruit.
- Apple and peanut or almond butter.
Soon after a workout, it’s best to eat a meal full of protein and carbohydrates. As I said before, while you work out, you break down your muscles so they can rebuild stronger. Muscles are made up of amino acids and eating protein and carbs will replenish your depleted protein and glycogen source. By eating protein and carbohydrates shortly after a workout, you ensure that you:
- Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
- Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).
- Restore glycogen stores.
- Enhance recovery.
Great post workout meals include: Protein shakes, lean meats, chocolate milk, sweet potatoes, greek yogurt, oatmeal, etc.
SLEEP AND REST
We all know how important sleep is for general health and mental health, but when you are training it’s extremely important. That is because when we sleep, our bodies enter into the anabolic stage where energy conservation, repair and growth take over. Our body tissues recover at a faster rate in this stage which is important because our muscles are being broken down while we workout. As adults, we should aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Another crucial element to this topic is rest days. Just like sleep, you need to give your body a break to repair itself especially if you train a lot. If you are putting in a lot of work at the gym and you notice you aren’t really achieving your goals, maybe you need to step back and take a few rest days. I Personally, I aim for 1-2 rest days per week.
If your goal is to lose overall body fat, you need to be doing cardio. I know it sucks, trust me I hate cardio too. However, it’s a game changer if you are trying to lean out – especially when you incorporate it into your weight training routine. I go more into detail on this topic on my other blog post: WHY YOU SHOULD BE DOING CARDIO, WEIGHT TRAINING, AND HIIT.
For a long time I went into the gym and winged it. I train some legs, some abs, and maybe some upper body. In my defense, I had no idea what I was doing and I had no one to guide me (hence why I have a fitness blog; I want to help others who don’t know what the hell they are doing like me at one point). I did this for a while and of course I didn’t see my muscles growing! As my fitness journey became an important part of my life, I wanted to gain muscle and lean out. My current routine is:
- Monday- Back and biceps
- Tuesday- Legs and shoulders
- Wednesday- Back and Biceps
- Thursday- Chest and Triceps or rest day depending on how I feel
- Friday- Legs and shoulders
- Saturday- Chest and Triceps
- Sunday- Rest
This routine has helped me SO much to build muscle.
Last but not least, consistency is the main ingredient to the equation. If you have specific goals – whether it be losing fat, gaining muscle, or becoming stronger, you must be consistent. Don’t give up because you aren’t seeing results immediately, these things take time. Keep in mind your overall goal and why you are embarking on this journey.