Sure, you’re told to keep fit and exercise from a variety of sources (usually doctors and the government, but those reasons are always because of self-interest), so is exercising really all what it’s cracked out to be? Let’s take a look at some so called benefits.
Makes you (and your body) look good
I hear this one get tossed A LOT. Apparently exercising builds muscle and tones your body, getting rid of fatty tissue and replacing it with lean muscle through HARD WORK. Hard work equates to blood, sweat and tears. Why work for something so hard when there are shortcuts? Why run a 1.5 kilometer marathon for a gold medal when you can get one from a 100 meter dash.
Enter cosmetic surgery. Want a flatter stomach? Liposuction. A big chest? No problem! Calves, biceps and glutes? They can do that, too. Modern technology > human evolution.
Helps you live longer
What comes with old age? Joint pain, poor back strength (to the point of needing a crutch), build-up of fat, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Why would someone in their right mind want to go through that?! It just might be better to enjoy your youth and call it a life.
Boosts your energy
Well, so does coffee. And energy drinks. And probably tea, too. So many other alternatives to choose from.
Helps you lose weight
This one is bogus, too. Did you know you can lose weight now by taking a single pill?
Why shouldn’t you exercise?
Let’s take a look at the reasons to not exercise.
More time available
There’s 24 hours in a day, and when you take away time spent sleeping, working, eating, driving places, hanging out with friends, you’re not left with much time. Why waste 1 hour in a gym when you can spend that 1 hour watching your favorite weekly series on television? On a couch. With some chips and soda. Now that’s comfort.
More money available
You’re not just purchasing a gym membership when you need to exercise; you’ve got to buy food, and supplements. Gas to get to the gym if you’re taking a car. What about all that extra laundry from the dirty and sweaty gym clothes you’d wear? It’s gotta add to your utility bill. And when you count it all up, that’s a lot of beer money being tossed around unnecessarily.
You’d need a wardrobe
This one is hypothetical, but let’s just say there’s someone out there who is crazy enough to actually exercise daily and achieve these “benefits” (highly unlikely, I’ve seen the statistics). Imagine all the new clothing you’d need to buy. Shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear. That’s a lot of beer money!
So there you have it: working out does more harm than good.
Save your time, save your money, and go do something useful. Like using social media.
There’s less than 3 weeks left to the 2012 calendar, which also means you have less than 3 weeks to enjoy a comfortable gym atmosphere. With the turn of the calendar comes the resolution crowd to the gym. These are the people that made getting in fit and in shape part of their New Year’s resolutions, but we all know how that turns out.
If you are a resolution crowd member, instead of waiting until next year to begin working out, why not start now? With the holiday season underway many people are either flying away to enjoy warmer climates or looking to spend the holidays with family. This is an added bonus for you as the gyms are less busy. Those weights are begging for you to toss them around.
You might even be able to snag an amazing deal on a membership. There’s a gym near my area that offers 6 months free when you sign up for 6 months, so there are good deals to take advantage of.
Now’s the time to start; don’t worry about 2013, that’s next year. Next year you will be in the best shape of your life if you start training now.
Vince Gironda, a mid-1900 bodybuilding pioneer, once brashly stated that bodybuilding is 85% nutrition. He had some other proclamations and controversial ideas on training that caused his peers to scratch their heads. However, having Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Frank Zane and countless celebrities as his trainees, clearly Vince was doing something right.
The short answer to the titular question is neither. You need both training and nutrition, working together, to achieve your fitness goals (gaining mass, increasing conditioning, losing fat as examples).
However, depending where you are in your progression of training, you should focus your attention on one over the other.
The Beginner Trainee: focus on Nutrition
As a beginner you should focus on nutrition because a poor quiet can set you back further in your goals. You might be ingesting too much saturated fats and causing fat gains. You might be eating too little protein and experiencing muscle tears. Or maybe you’re not eating enough carbs and feeling light headed and low in energy. Nutrition as a beginner is the key to your success.
As a beginner, your body will be unaccustomed to the shock it is experiencing training more frequently than you ever had before. Because of this, you’re going to see big gains in your strength and muscle size regardless of your workout routine (unless you’re strictly running and not using any free weight nor machines).
Focusing on nutrition in these early stages prepares you to become a master on what works and what doesn’t, on what’s good and on what is setting you back. Eventually, like working out, you will hit a nutrition plateau where eating more whole proteins, unsaturated fats, complex carbs and supplementing will have a minimal effect.
The Intermediate and Advanced Trainee: focus on Training
Once the nutrition is in place, the focus on training begins. Training for the sake of training will lead you to a stagnant result. An intermediate and advanced trainee’s training routine must be scientific.
The more you train, the more information you will collect about your body and knowledge of what works. Nutrition will stay fairly constant and not play that big of a part in your goals unless your goal is total fat loss or pure mass gain. Training, on the other hand, will begin to be the focus with your body adapting to your workouts more quickly.
Training should be altered to improve the efficiency of your workouts. As a rule of thumb, you should be adjusting your training routine every 3-5 weeks to offset the effects of your body adapting. However, some advanced trainees may be at a point where they may have to alter their routine every 2 weeks or less. You will have to be the judge.
Nutrition and Training need to work synergistically
Good nutrition is critical to your training goals. It’s important for beginners to develop good eating habits and intermediate/advanced trainees to continue those diets to achieve their goals.
Once nutrition has been mastered, it becomes almost second nature and allows you to focus on your training while keeping your nutrition subconsciously in-check.
And we’re back.
Like any good work-out routine, sometimes a break may be required. For any variety of reasons. However, it’s senseless to sit here and list them all out. The important thing is to get back into the swing of things and rededicate yourself.
A good friend once shared with me an excellent proverb.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
– Chinese Proverb
We can sit here all day and discuss what this means to each of us. But this isn’t philosophy class so we’re not going to do that. The key takeaway here is that it is never too late to start something. Stop worrying. Forget what happened to cause you to be in your current predicament; nothing that happened in the past matters anymore. Jettison and purge all the negative things holding you back from being a stronger, faster and smarter YOU. Stop making excuses for yourself and wake the hell up.
Let’s move forward and rededicate ourselves.
(photo credit: tim phillips)
I gave out some pretty simple advice early last year to a friend. I never realized how much of an impact it had until I caught up with him recently.
Let’s frame the question first. My friend, recently new to working out, asked me for some tips on what to include in his diet. He wanted to hit all food groups, had a grocery list of items that looked like an Arabic scroll and had a plan of what he was going to eat and when. It was pretty impressive. However, I felt he was over-complicating it.
Here was a guy who before that moment would skip breakfasts and maybe eat three meals a day and he wanted to all of a sudden start plowing 5,000 calories into his system. I had to control myself from laughing too hard when he told me this.
So what was the advice?
I called it the pasta and beans diet. I told him to leave his grocery list alone and just start stuffing his face with pasta and beans everyday as much as as possible throughout the day. And why pasta and beans? I’ll tell ya: because they’re both dirt cheap.And a great source of protein too!
See the problem is that most people try to do too much at first and than end up disappointed because their high expectations fell flat. So they stop.
But pasta and beans don’t stop. Pasta and beans keeps you going. Pasta and beans gives you gas. In more than one way. And once you begin to get sick of pasta and beans, that’s when you start adding variety to your meals.
Small achievements begin to add up. And they’re much easier to accomplish than a large, pie-in-the-sky goal. That’s what the pasta and beans diet goes to accomplish. Stop complicating your diet by having these grandiose plans of what you’re going to eat and when and just eat.
But back to my friend
So what was the impact? Well, the same guy who wouldn’t have three meals a day was now actually consuming close to his original goal of 5,000 calories a day. He was hitting the weights hard and had an impressive physique to boot. He credited the pasta and beans advice that I gave him a year prior with leading him down the path to finally achieve his fitness goals.
The key is that is that it lead him down the path. All you have to do is simplify what you’re doing at first. Ground yourself and ground your goals and simplify what you’re doing. Then once you feel ready, start to add on top of these goals.
So for any beginners looking for a good initial diet, try pasta and beans. And let us know the results of it after a few weeks.
(photo credit: Osvaldo_Zoom)
There’s a lot of stuff that can go wrong when you work out. Obviously working out with incorrect form will lead to injuries. But what are some other things that can go wrong in a gym?
1) A barbell breaking on you
Maybe the bars defective. Maybe you tossed on more weight than the damn bar can handle. Regardless of the cause, you’re going to be in a whole heap of trouble if the bar collapses on you. There’s two things you can do to combat this, inspect the bar you’re using isn’t showing too much bend. Because let’s face it, the gym isn’t for your personal playground; there’s many other people. You can’t trust every bar you pick up. And what if the bar can’t support the stack of 45 lbs. you’re about to toss on it? Check the specs of the bar or ask a gym employee to help you out.
2) Too focused on the mirrors
This is why working out rocks. You can have the pudgiest body in the world, but the feeling of blood pumping through your aching muscles will give anyone the sense of being THE MAN. WHOOOOO!! So what can go wrong? While flexing your biceps or extending your arms to check out your physique, maybe you might accidentally smack the guy next to you. And maybe you might have interrupted his work-out. And maybe, just maybe, he’s about to have an episode of ‘roid rage. You’ll definitely want to start looking for the emergency exit at that point. Next time, be aware of your surroundings before you start trying out your best Mr. Olympia poses.
3) Distracted by the hot chicks
Let’s be realistic, most guys have wandering eyes. Especially with an attractive girl in the vicinity. You want to catch the eye of the hot girl at the gym so you’re either trying to catch her gaze or working out near her. Some guys will even work out in a girl’s personal space. Definitely a great way to scare her off. So what can go wrong with being too eager to meet a girl at the gym? Well, for once, while walking and checking out a girl, you might smash your head into a piece of gym equipment. I’ve seen it happen on more than one occasion. High comedy right there for everyone who catches it. Solution? Keep yourself focused on the gym, Don Juan.
4) A drive -by shooting
Farfetched? You bet. But this actually happened at the gym I go to. Now I don’t know the reasons for it, but I like to think that someone just got too jealous about another person’s physique that they felt like lashing out in a ridiculous way. Violence has no place anywhere, let alone the gym. But whether it’s a drive-by shooting or someone attacking you unexpectedly it’s best to be on your aware of your surroundings. When you work-out, people may begin to get jealous and either try and insult you or bring you down. Take it all in stride, because whose got the better body? Numero Uno. That’s who.
For those of you that are given company benefits, have you actually taken the time to flip through the pages of the benefits that you are entitled to? You would be positively aglow at the recent trend of what benefits companies are providing to their employees.
One company that I used to work for would offer up to $250 to use on massages, 80% dental, 90% off prescription drugs; really, stuff that you expect to see in your typical compensation plan. However, one day I was feeling more curious than a 12 year old boy so I began flipping through the benefits package when I stumbled upon a total gem: fitness club reimbursement.
I was floored. This company would actually pay up to $100 of your gym membership. Every. Single. Month. I couldn’t believe what I was reading at the time. They were advertising that they would pay me to work out at gyms. I didn’t need any extra motivation to exercise after that.
Employee wellness programs
It doesn’t matter if you’ve just got a new job or have been in the same gig for the last 5 years, take a look at your benefits package. The trend of companies for the last few years, and especially in 2012, is towards more in-depth health incentive packages and corporate wellness programs. This can include stress management, disease management, work/life balance education, health coaching. The list goes on. Check it out.
Follow the baby boomers statistics
With the baby boomers getting older and becoming more cognizant of the important of their health, more of their dollars are going to preserving a healthy lifestyle. As they go, so does our economy. So, if you were considering starting a business in health and wellness, 2012 might be the time to finally get on that horse.
What’s the easiest thing to do when a new year begins? Making a resolution.
What’s the hardest thing to do for that same year? Sticking to that resolution.
January is perhaps the most profitable month for gyms. Countless of out-of-shape people sign up for memberships at your local gym to fulfill their commitment to the age-old New Years’ resolution of staying/getting in shape. If you’re a gym regular you’ve witnessed these masses of out-of-shape people appear every January. And you’ve also know that the blubbery masses vanish 3 weeks later.
Gyms need to make money, too
This is how gyms stay in the black. Not because of the really serious champs that come to train but the out-of-shape chumps that sign up for yearlong memberships and stop showing up. It’s like a charitable donation without the tax break. Even those Nigerian princes you get elaborate emails from know better than to do that. All you’re doing is throwing money at the fake promise getting yourself in shape. Might as well buy Dr. Ho’s Ab Trimmer, it’s much cheaper and at least you can sit and watch TV while it builds you a six-pack.
The problem with these people is that they’re jumping into the deep-end of a pool without knowing how to swim. It’s a brand new year, they’ve got their “new” resolution and their gym membership and now they are ready to make some drastic changes to their life (see New Years’ resolution 2011, 2010, 2009…). So what happens? A few things, but it all ends the same: they give up.
They lose focus. Don’t see results fast enough. They revert back to their comfort of laziness. They don’t know what exercises to do or get intimidated by the true Training Sharks. The excuses are many but the end is the same. That’s why we only see these people show up to the gym in January. They’re like blue moons.
Take a moment and be honest with yourself. Are you one of “those” people? Do you make the same resolution year after year but give up before February rolls around? Just like Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is acceptance.
You strolled into the gym, saw the exorbitant cost of a month to month membership, and allowed the sales reps to talk you into buying a yearlong membership because the monthly cost is lower so blindly signed on the dotted line. You see, they know you won’t come often. And since it is their job to sell memberships, why not take you for all you got?
You should have taken it easy, sailor
Instead of buying a year’s worth of a membership so that you can take advantage of the latest promotion, settle for going month to month. You pay less up front and if you stop going altogether you’re short around $70 for that one month. That sounds fair.
Or better yet, why not start off by working out at home. This works best because not only can you start getting into the habit of sticking to your New Year’s resolution of getting in shape, you can also avoid the crowds of January gym members. Once you’ve began working out a few times a week and turned it into a habit, you can go to the gym near the end of January when the crowds are back to normal and sign up for a membership then.
But what if you already bought a membership for a year and after doing some soul searching you’ve come to the sobering realization that you will give up in 3 weeks? Well, my friend, the time has come for things to get serious.
Because for 2012, it’s time for you to become a Training Shark.
Mmm there’s nothing more delicious than a Snickers chocolate bar or a BigMac combo from McDonalds. It’s a great feeling to indulge in some junk food. It’s so rewarding to have a big snack after a long day.
Then it happens. That feeling of guilt and shame. That feeling where you realize that your workout was a waste of time since you concluded it with a slice of fresh pizza or an order of fries. You spent an hour at the gym working your ass off to burn calories and now you threw it all away with a stupid snack. Isn’t that ridiculous? All of that hard work gone to shame. Eating junk food is and always will be a killer on your diet and your fitness goals.
We all know what we should be doing. The problem is that very few of us are actually doing this. We all know that junk food is bad for you. I’m not going to be some prick that tells you how bad it is because this won’t help. Cigarette companies have disclaimers on packs and people are still smoking. Eating junk food is an emotional move. It’s not something that we do logically.
Let’s at how you can destroy your junk food addiction. This is the ultimate guide for everyone out there that wants to stop eating so much junk food right now:
Understand that eating junk food is a time killer.
Do you really need to eat that crap or are you just killing time? The odds are that you’re just killing time by eating snacks. Whenever we don’t feel like doing work we do something random. Some of us will go for a smoke, some will stalk girls on Facebook, and most of us will have a snack. Having a snack is the easy thing to do because it doesn’t involve much effort and it tastes so damn good. Preparing a decent meal actually requires effort. Who wants to put in work when you’re avoiding work? Most of us have a snack to kill time.
How this can help you: understand that you’re snacking to kill time. Instead of snacking, bust out a few pushups or go for a walk.
Take pictures of what you eat.
Use your smart phone to take a pic of all the crap that you eat. Every time you have a bag of Doritos or eat some crap you need to take a picture. This way after a few days you’ll see how much junk you put into your body. This is the same body that you’re going to have for the rest of your life. Do you really want to treat it like that? Do you put sugar in the gas tank of your car? Didn’t think so.
How this can help you: actually seeing what you eat is a harsh reality check. You’ll feel worse and worse until you eventually destroy that annoying junk food addiction.
Take a picture of your gut and hang it up in your room.
You know that bulbous gut that you’re sick of? Post a picture of it in your room so that you have to see it every single day. At random times throughout the day you’ll be reminded of what you need to work on.
How this can help you: you need to visualize your goals. Seeing a picture of your big gut every single day will remind you that you need to get to work!
Have a cheat day every week.
This is key. This isn’t Alcoholics Anonymous were you pledge to never drink again. With your nutrition you need to remember that balance is everything. You can’t always eat well. It’s just not natural. I don’t know how anyone can eat perfectly every single day. Actually I don’t know anyone that eats clean all of the time. It’s just impossible (and BORING).
How does a weekly cheat day work? All week you do your damn best (I know you can do it) to eat well. Whenever you get a craving for junk food you need to write it down on your cell phone. After 5 days this list will add up. Trust me that this list will have all sorts of junk on it. Then when day 7 comes around, you can pig out. You can eat anything that you want. You get your junk food fix and your junk food craving out of the way. Isn’t that beautiful?
How this can help you: you get all of your junk food cravings out of your system. The goal is to completely pig out and indulge as much as possible. After a cheat day you’re not going to want to see a snack for a few weeks.
Are you ready to finally slap that junk food addiction in the fucking face?
Tofu. I used to make fun of it and liken it to bird food. But what is it exactly?
Tofu is a soy based product that vegetarians used to supplement the lack of protein in their diet. It is also a very popular inclusion in Asian cuisines. This item is high in both protein and calcium. Consumed on its own it has a very bland taste, however, it has a great ability to absorb flavors.
I spoke about the high content of protein. But how high is it? As a comparison, here’s how a regular tofu brick (the kind you can purchase at your local supermarket for around $1) stacks up against other high sources of protein:
5 ounce sirloin burgers (8 per box)
Protein: 26 grams per burger (192 grams total)
Protein per dollar spent: 20.8 grams per $1
250 mL egg white containers (2 containers per)
Protein: 7 grams per 1/4 cup (56 grams total)
Protein per dollar spent: 21.0 grams per $1
Regular tofu brick
Protein: 8 grams per 1/5 slice (40 grams total)
Protein per dollar spent: 40.0 grams per $1
As you can see tofu is a relatively cheap source of protein, but the next question is how does it taste?
On its own, very bland!
So while the easiest way to introduce tofu into your diet is to eat it as it is, like brick of cheese, there’s no fun in going about it like this. So here are two different ways for including tofu into your meals and diet.
1. Any salad
I like having big bowls of salad in the evening. Dress it up with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, and you got a great quick meal. I used to top off the salad with croutons or raspberries and avocado as well, but I found that tofu makes an incredible inclusion into the dish. It soaks up the remnants of the dressing that seeps to the bottom of the bowl like a little sponge so you get the most out of your meal.
2. Baked tofu slices
You can make protein slices to eat after a workout by slicing the tofu into strips, marinating them in a flavor combo of your choice over night in a plastic bag and baking them on a baking sheet in your oven (use 350 degrees Fahrenheit ) until they become crispy on each side.
There are many more ways of including tofu into your diet, simply Googling it will give you a variety of recipes to try.
Which one is your favorite?
(photo credit: sulamith.sallmann)