For those of you who are sick and tired of convincing yourself that you’re going to start your diet ‘tomorrow’ and of barely being able to walk a few hundred yards without breaking a sweat and becoming winded and out of breath, a change in lifestyle is exactly what is needed. As far as which change in lifestyle is required, of course you should consider leading a healthier lifestyle by embracing health and fitness. Health and fitness is not just a quick fix for when you feel you’ve fallen out of shape, nor is it designed to just simply allow you to look better. Health and fitness serves all kinds of purposes, and it is a highly complex affair. The problem that many people tend to encounter when they decide to embrace a healthy and active lifestyle, is that they aren’t quite sure how to go about things, and they jump in head first, without doing their research. To help make life a little easier however, certain rules should be abided by, and to help you out, here’s a look at a few prominent golden rules of health and fitness for anybody looking to get fitter and healthier in the process.
Eat before and after exercising
When exercising, especially when trying to lose weight, people will often virtually starve themselves and will consume calories way, way below those required for maintenance. This however, is far from ideal because it can hinder your athletic performance when exercising. You see, if you imagine your metabolism as a fire, if you allowed it burn low before exercising by not feeding it, your energy levels would plummet and you wouldn’t perform as well as you may have hoped. After training, you may decide to eat a large meal to try to compensate for this, and no matter how healthy that meal may have been, if your metabolism is running low, you won’t be able to process the food and convert it into calories as effectively as if you’d eaten a small and balanced meal a couple of hours previously. Ideally before you train you should consume protein to assist with protein synthesis, along with a slow-release source of complex carbs to help fuel your body. After you train, again you need protein to repair your muscles, along with a source of simple carbs to spike insulin levels and shuttle nutrients into your muscles.
Stay well hydrated
You’d be amazed by just how many people actually don’t drink enough water every day, especially people who are trying to become fitter and more active. The human body is made up of more than 70% water, so that alone should tell you how important it is to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated not only promotes optimal health, it also improves athletic performance so you are less likely to become tired and fatigued when you exercise. It is a well documented fact that hydration is one of the keys to optimal athletic performance, so if you aren’t drinking enough water, you just aren’t going to perform as well as you may have hoped. Not only that, but you’ll feel unwell as well. Try to drink at least 2.5 litres of fresh water per day, and space this out throughout the day, rather than chugging huge glasses in one go.
Don’t ignore cardio
It doesn’t matter how hard you think you’re working in the weight room, aerobic exercise is still incredibly important for health and fitness purposes, so there really is no excuse for neglecting your cardio. Cardio can be boring at times, there’s no denying that, but just remember the fact that you do not have to perform cardio on a treadmill or exercise bike in the gym. If you enjoy gym cardio then that’s great, but if not, look for something you do enjoy instead. You could play football, racquetball, go swimming, cycling, hiking, or anything else for that matter. As long as you are performing some form of cardio or another, at least three times per week, you are going to see and feel the benefits much quicker than you may have realized.
Always stretch and warm up
Stretching is a vital component of any exercise regime, yet it is also the most underutilized aspect as well. People simply cannot be bothered to stretch and warm up before and after they exercise, so they’ll basically begin training almost right away. Most of the time they may very well avoid an injury, but by failing to stretch and warm up properly, they are much more likely to hurt themselves during periods of physical exertion. By stretching and warming up, you are improving your muscle elasticity so the fibres are less likely to become ripped or torn. This means you are less likely to hurt yourself whilst training, and your flexibility and mobility will also improve.
If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it
Health and fitness should ultimately be fun and enjoyable, and although you may push yourself hard when training, you should still feel good before, during, and after your training. If the thought of going to the gym, or going for a run is making you feel miserable and physically sick, something is very wrong and something will have to change. You shouldn’t continue to torture yourself physically and mentally, and so you should instead look for more enjoyable and viable alternatives that you actually look forward to doing. The same goes for your diet, if you hate eating certain foods, it doesn’t matter how healthy they are, you should simply eat something equally as healthy that you do enjoy.
Every now and then, if you do crave certain foods, or if you have been wanting to do something for some time, you should reward yourself for staying on plan. If you’ve not missed a workout and have eaten clean for a number of days/weeks, if one Friday or Saturday night, you do crave a certain food, treat yourself, enjoy yourself, and just make sure that you get right back on plan the very next day.