Foods are more than just foods. Foods do not just provide nutrients to support our lives. Foods build culture. It can be seen from the ways foods are prepared in different parts of the world. Foods build relationships. We spend time with loved ones, family and friends, over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Foods build economies. The food industry creates millions of jobs. It also generates trillions of dollars of revenue that drive the economy of many countries. Food builds the environment as well. How farming impacts the environment is not a concern that can be taken lightly due to global warming. Therefore, building a healthy relationship with foods is essential not only to our own health but also essential to our culture, our society, our economy, and our environment. Of course, in this context, we are putting our health at the forefront. By improving our health through building a good relationship with foods, we can also improve the effect of foods on the world as a whole. How do you build a good relationship with foods? Here are the 7 ways to do that.
Ditch The “Good” Foods & “Bad” Foods Mindset
Modern diet cultures often put foods into two categories, the “Good” foods, and the “Bad” foods. This oversimplified concept of foods can have harmful effects on your perception of food because the concept of “good foods and bad foods” encourages you to avoid the so-called “Bad” foods while promotes the consumption of “Good” foods.
Avoiding the “Bad” foods can have many negative side effects on your overall health including nutrient deficiency due to the avoidance of the “Bad” foods and possibly some form of eating disorders that involve the “Bad” foods due to over-restriction of the “Bad” foods. On the other hand, promoting the “Good” foods can lead to the overconsumption of the “Good” foods. Overconsumption of the “Good” foods will also have undesirable effects on your health. The most common one is gaining body fat due to the excess calories from the overconsumption of “good” foods. Therefore, it is best for you to ditch the “good foods and bad foods” mindset.
Instead of focusing on “good foods and bad foods”, it is better to eat more nutrient-dense fresh produce in your diet (~80% of your diet) while leaving a small room (~20% of your diet) for you to enjoy other foods in your diet. In this way, you are not cutting out any food group or over-restricting yourself from any foods, especially foods that allow you to have a good time either by yourself or with others. Besides, the small rooms also give you the option to eat out if other life priority such as work gets in the way of your normal daily routine to prepare foods.
Enjoy Foods With Loved Ones
Foods bring people together. You can have brunch with friends on a nice sunny day over the weekend. You can cook up a storm for special occasions such as your birthday party. You can book a romantic dinner for two to celebrate your anniversary with your partner. You can enjoy mum’s cooking over a family reunion dinner.
Apart from all of the above, foods also define cultures. The sheer number of different cuisines is proof of it. There is no denying that foods are reasons to spend time with loved ones to build strong relationships. Occasionally enjoying foods with loved ones can help you see foods as something valuable to form strong bonds with others. As a result of that, enjoying with loved ones can be a strong foundation to build a good relationship with foods.
Don’t Associate Foods With Stress
Dealing with stress is not easy. Everyone has their own way to deal with stress. Some will resort to foods to seek pleasure to combat the unpleasantness of dealing with stress. Although this strategy can provide temporary relief of stress, it is an easy way to overconsume hyper-palatable and calorie-dense junk foods. Weight gain is inevitable if you consistently consume junk foods to deal with stress.
This can become worse when you start to feel guilty about using junk foods to deal with stress because of your weight gain. As a result, you will become more stressed, which will then, lead you to look for more foods to reduce your stress level. Therefore, using foods to deal with stress can trap you in a vicious cycle that may give rise to more negative side effects on your health and wellbeing. In order to avoid such a vicious cycle, you should stop associate foods with stress. This does not mean that you should not enjoy good foods to have good times because enjoying good foods is certainly one of the great ways to live life to the fullest.
Instead of associate foods with stress, associate foods with positive activities. These activities include managing your health and wellbeing, building better relationships with friends and family, staying true to your culture and your identity, and expanding your boundaries to new experiences in life. All of these positive activities can help you manage your stress without directly associating foods with stress.
Have Fixed Meal Times
Having fixed mealtimes is a good habit you can adopt to build a better relationship with foods. By having fixed mealtimes, you are more likely to set yourself up to follow a routine that can help you manage your hunger easily. This is because your body is only going to expect you to consume foods at fixed mealtimes so you are less likely to consume foods outside mealtimes. As a result of that, you are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of premature death due to weight-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, fatty liver, kidney disease, certain types of cancer, etc.
Of course, this does not mean that you cannot have foods outside your fixed mealtimes. There will be occasions when you have to eat outside your normal fixed meal times such as work lunch, celebration, dinner party, etc. When that happens, you should not stress too much about it as long as you can get back to your regular mealtime when the next meal comes.
Control Your Food Portion
Controlling your food portion is a way to build a good relationship with foods because it gives you the power to have control over your diet. This can stop you from relying on impulses to make food decisions, which may cause frequent overconsuming of foods. In order to control your food portion, you must first find out what is the right amount of foods you should consume to allow you to maintain a healthy weight without unnecessary over-restriction of foods.
There are many ways you can measure the amount of your daily food intake, including using calorie counters to track calories, using your hands to measure portion size, using plates or food containers to measure your foods, and etc. You can pick one that works best for you. Although it can take some time for you to figure out what is the right amount of foods that work for you, what you learn through measuring your foods can help you to figure out how to control your food portion depends on your goal, whether it is to lose weight, gain weight or maintain your current weight.
Knowing how to control your food portion will help you to gain a deeper understanding of the roles foods can play in your life. This understanding will not only help you to acquire enough nutrients and fuels to maintain optimal health through a healthy balanced diet but also enrich your life with many wonderful foods experiences. Because of that, your relationship with foods is going to have a strong foundation (knowing your food portion) to remain good.
Prioritize Nutrient-Dense Foods
A good relationship with foods cannot be built without good health. In order to build good health, you will have to take care of your diet by prioritizing nutrient-dense foods in your diet. This will ensure that you are acquiring enough nutrients to keep your body function optimally and support your health.
Prioritizing nutrient-dense foods is, by no means, cutting out the less nutritious junk foods and processed foods from your diet entirely. It is eating more nutrient-dense fresh produce such as vegetables and fruits, meat or plant-based lean protein, nuts and seeds in your diet while keeping a small room for less nutritious foods for you to enjoy. With good health built from a healthy balanced diet, you are going to be able to live longer and have more energy to enjoy your life to the fullest.
Eating slowly can help you to build a good relationship with foods in many ways. First of all, eating slowly (not too slow) is a good table manner across many cultures. It is being seen as a polite gesture on the table. Therefore, it helps you to build better relationships with others on the dining table.
Eating slowly can also enhance nutrient absorption for better health because it allows you to chew food properly. The action of chewing breaks foods down properly so that the foods can be easily digested in the guts. When you chew your foods, your mouth also releases digestive enzymes that help to break down starches in your food into sugar molecules for absorption in the guts.
Besides, eating slowly prevents you from overeating because it gives your brain the time it requires to receive the signal of fullness from your stomach, which is often delayed. This will then help you to recognize the fullness cue properly. On top of that, eating slowly allows you to taste the foods and enjoy the foods to a much greater extent. What is a better way to build a good relationship with foods than having a good time to taste the foods?
Building a good relationship with foods is more than just adopting a healthy balanced diet and make better food choices to improve your physical health. It is also understanding how all foods play a positive role in your life to define your identity, preserve your culture, enrich life experience, and improve general wellbeing. In addition to that, you can build good habits to improve your life, form stronger bonds with friends and family as well as live a life that truly makes you happy in the process of building a good relationship with foods.
Before we dig deeper into the golden rules, let’s take a closer look at why building muscles naturally is good for your general health? Building muscles is more than just looking better physically. Building muscles can improve the quality of your life in many ways. You can get stronger and fitter in the process of adding more muscle mass on your frame. Your bone density is higher and your tendons and ligaments are stronger. This could protect you from unwanted injuries such as broken bones, and tendons sprains or tears from daily activities.
Besides that, your risk of many diseases related to the sedentary lifestyle, including Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and certain types of cancers, is many folds lower. More muscle mass also allows you to have more rooms for calorie-dense foods to an extent (which should not be taken for granted) because part of the calorie consumed will be stored as glycogen in the muscle mass for energy use. As you also build your confidence level up during the muscle-building process, you are more ready to deal with challenges in life as well. In addition to all of the benefits above, you are also going to have better social status because superior physical fitness is a status of hard works and disciplines, which can give others reasons to look up to you.
Now that I give you the reasons to build muscles, you must also find your own personal reason to do it. Just want to look good is not usually the real reason why you want to build muscles. You will have to think about what is the real driving force to lead you to this article to read through thousands of words to find out what I have to say about the golden rules to build muscles. Without a strong “why” from you, these 10 golden rules are just rules that you will not be able to follow through until you reach your muscle-building goal. In order to have a strong “why”, you will need to repetitively ask yourself “why?” to look deep into yourself for your true motive. Once you find your strong “why”, the following 10 golden rules will work its magic to help reach your maximum muscle potential.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into these 10 golden rules to help you build muscles naturally.
Training is an essential part of the muscle-building process. There is where you stimulate your muscle growth through various forms of resistance training. In this article, we are going to focus on training with external loads such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, machine weights, and any other muscle building equipment you can find in the gym since this form of training is the most common form of training for muscle building purposes.
However, just plain training is not going to help you to pack on muscles. You will need to have consistency weeks after weeks, months after months. Consistency of training is dedicating a minimum of two to three hourly training sessions on a weekly basis over a long period of time, possibly two to three years for optimal results. Unless you are in an unfortunate circumstance (e.g. illness or accident), you will have to show up for your dedicated training session regardless of your level of motivation. It may sound cliche but show up is halfway to success. This is totally applicable to building muscles. You just need to show up and put in the 100% of efforts you can muster at the time. If you feel 50%, you put in all of your 50% into your training session. The compounding effect sessions after sessions is where the success lies.
Once your consistency is established, you will feel uncomfortable to miss a training session just like you missed brushing your teeth before bed if you are used to brushing your teeth before bedtime. It becomes a habit.
Training With Structure
Walking into a gym and do whatever exercise comes to mind is not a smart way to build muscles. Neither is mindlessly following a program you found on the Internet or magazines (if anyone still buys magazines these days) without having a good understanding of the program. In order to make sure you optimize your muscle-building potential, you should have a training structure to help you decide what is your training cycle so that you can find a suitable training program for your current training cycles.
How do you structure your training cycles? The most basic way to structure your training cycles is to rotate your volume training cycles and strength training cycles quarterly. In volume training cycles, you will be doing high repetition training (more than 8 repetitions per set) using light to moderate weight for every exercise you do during your training session. In strength training, you will be focusing on doing low repetition training (less than 6 repetitions per set) using heavier weights for every exercise you do during your training session. This is because high repetition training using heavy weights over a span of weeks is going to lead to overtraining and hinder your recovery. It is not a feasible way to promote muscle growth. Strength cycles allow you to get stronger so that you can use heavier weights in your next volume cycle.
Training with structure can stop you from increasing weight too soon in your training progress. Increasing weight too soon often sacrifices your lifting techniques. This can, in turn, negatively affects the quality of training because you are getting fewer muscle stimulations. As a result of that, your muscle growth is subpar. Besides that, unnecessary compensation from certain muscles, which should not be exerting too much force for the lift, will occur when good lifting technique is absent during exercising. This can lead to both muscle and strength imbalances, which can then greatly increase your risk of injury.
Don’t Forget Compound Movement
It is not uncommon that beginners like to use isolation exercises such as biceps curl and various forms of abdominals muscles as their go-to exercises. There is no doubt that these exercises can be helpful in some ways and they are the direct ways to train the muscles that look good in the mirror. However, you will miss out on some big gains if you are not attempting to get better at compound exercises.
Compound exercises (which include barbell squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder press, pull up, dips, barbell bent-over row, inverted row, push up and etc) is a better way to build strength to do heavy weight training. This is because compound exercises allow multiple muscle groups to work together to generate more force. The other type of exercise, namely isolation exercises, only trains a single muscle group. While isolation exercises can be used to increase muscle size, their effectiveness is limited because the weights used for isolation exercises are a fraction of those you can use for compound exercises. When isolation exercises are used as supplementary exercises to compound exercises, they can help maintain muscle balance and strength balance to improve your strength for compound exercises. You can, therefore, use heavier weight when you do compound exercises
Training with heavy weights through compound exercises using correct lifting techniques can optimize your potential to grow more muscles. Besides, compound exercises have better stimulation on the release of anabolic hormones. This can, in turn, stimulate muscle growth.
Maintenance Works For Muscle Recovery
Muscles can get tight and joints can get less mobile over a period of time if you are not looking after them properly. Tight muscles and immobile joints can be a recipe for injury. Therefore, you will need to do maintenance works to help your muscle recover better.
Such maintenance works include:
warm-up routines. You should always do one to two warm-up sets with a lighter weight before you start training to make sure your muscles are ready to do the works.
various forms of mobility exercises. Mobility exercises can help increase the range of motion of your joints (shoulder, hip, and ankle are more prone to a limited range of motion). You can do this as part of your warm-up, cool-down, or active recovery.
both static and dynamic stretching exercises. Stretching exercises can help increase the length of your muscles for better movement. You can also use stretching exercises in your warm-up, cool-down, or active recovery routine.
With good maintenance, you are going to be able to move better day in day out. You can also train your muscles with a full range of motion. Training with the full range of motion, you can both maximize your muscle growth potential and improve your joint health. In addition to that, you are less likely to experience pains in your joint, your risk of injury can be greatly reduced, and your training longevity will be longer.
Maintaining A Calorie Surplus For Muscle Growth
In order to maximize your training efforts for building muscles, you need to consume enough calories to fuel your body for training. You will also need to have enough nutrients from high-quality foods for muscle growth and recovery as well. Therefore, eating enough foods to maintain a calorie surplus is an essential part of building muscles.
Before you simply eat more for the sake of putting more weight on your frame, it is always wise to find out how much food you will need to eat for building muscles. You can do it through
an experiment with your current food intake to find out if it is the right amount of food to maintain your weight, and then, add more foods on top of it. This may take a couple of weeks to see the result.
use calculation from resting metabolic rate equations (e.g. Mifflin-St Jeor equation, Harris-Benedict equation, or Owen equation) to acquire the calorie number to maintain your current body weight and add roughly 20% to it for muscle building purposes. After that, you will have to count your calories to make sure that you are eating enough calories to support muscle growth.
Adding more foods to your diet to build muscles is harder than it sounds. First of all, you may struggle to eat more foods because you will most likely feel too full throughout the day for weeks. Secondly, you will have to eat good quality produce most of the time to build muscles. Junk foods have to be only a small part of your diet if you want to optimize your muscle growth.
Eating Enough Protein
The process of building muscles involves
the process of inducing micro-tears on your muscle damage through training. This process is called muscle protein breakdown.
the process of building the damaged muscles back up by providing them enough protein as building materials. This process is called muscle protein synthesis.
If the rate of muscle protein breakdown is higher than muscle protein synthesis, you will be losing muscle mass. Therefore, you will have to eat enough protein to keep the rate of muscle protein synthesis higher than the rate of muscle protein breakdown so that you can build more muscles during your recovery than the muscles you lost during training.
Besides muscle building, your body also needs protein for other bodily functions. These functions include energy production, enzyme production, hormone production, immunity support, nutrients transport, molecules signaling, and bone structural support. Therefore, undereating protein can negatively affect your potential to grow more muscles.
In order to ensure you have enough protein to support muscle growth, you should aim for at least 2.2g of protein per kg of your body weight (1g of protein per lb of your body weight) on daily basis. You should also be mindful that too much protein (more than 3g of protein per kg of your body weight) will not increase your rate of muscle growth. Overeating protein over a period of time can increase body fat instead of muscle. In case you are wondering if overeating protein will cause damage to the kidney and the liver, there is no evidence to support this if you are a healthy individual. If you have a pre-existing kidney condition, you will have to be careful with the amount of protein in your diet.
Don’t Bulk Up Mindlessly
One of the common mistakes made by fitness enthusiasts during the muscle building phase is that they justify bad food choices with their muscle-building goals. Therefore, they will eat anything they want for the sake of getting enough calories to gain weight. Unfortunately, such mindless eating behavior can lead to excessive fat gain alongside their weight gain in the process. The inflammation in their bodies will increase as a result of the increase in their body fat percentage. While a reasonable level of inflammation is necessary to promote muscle growth, it can impede the rate of muscle growth when the inflammation becomes chronic due to high body fat percentage.
Besides, they will have a hard time getting rid of the excess amount of body fat they added on their frame during cutting. In the cutting process, they are more likely to lose more muscle mass than desired as they will have to take a more extreme approach to lose the excess amount of body fat, especially if the cutting phase is short (less than 12 weeks),
Therefore, you should always prioritize good quality foods such as lean meat (lean protein for plant-based diet), starchy carbohydrates from real foods such as potatoes and rice, a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as nuts and seeds. These foods can provide you a broad spectrum of nutrients to optimize your muscle-building process.
Since you will have to put on some size, you can include various forms of processed foods and junk foods in your diet with a smart strategy because purely relying on good quality foods can be unsustainable over the period of your muscle-building phase, which could be over a few months. In order to make sure that you are not adding excessive body fat to your frame, you should only reserve 20% or less of your total calorie intake for these foods.
For optimal muscle growth, you will need enough recovery time for your body to do the necessary works to both repair damaged muscles and build new muscles. Therefore, you will need to schedule rest days into your training routine to take your attention away from training.
However, training too often in hopes of building muscles at a faster pace is one of the biggest mistakes made by fitness enthusiasts in the fitness community. High-frequency training without sufficient recovery is not only going to make it difficult for your body to build new muscles but also going to cause overtraining. Overtraining can have many negative effects on your health including weak gym performance, restless sleep, mood swing, irregular heart rate, fatigue, muscle soreness, joint pain, and etc. Your risk of injury during exercising can be greatly increased when you are overtrained. Therefore, you should not undermine the importance of rest days.
Get Enough Sleep
When you sleep, your body can focus its work on both restoring your brain and restoring your body in which muscle recovery is a part of it. During your non-REM sleep (deep sleep), your blood supply to your muscles is increased to provide nutrients and oxygen to allow muscle repair and muscle recovery to occurs while blood supply to your brain can be reduced because your brain is resting during this sleeping phase. Cutting short your sleeping time will also cut short the time it takes to allow this process to takes place effectively for optimal muscle growth.
Besides the negative effect on your muscle growth, lack of sleep can affect your training in other ways as well. It can affect your training performance due to the difficulty to focus on tasks caused by lack of sleep. If you are not careful, you can injure yourself during training as well.
Lack of sleep can also affect your appetite by making you craving for more foods through the downregulation of the satiety hormones, leptin, and the upregulation of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Such craving can easily drive you to consume more foods throughout the day. Overconsumption of food in combination with less physical movement due to tiredness can then lead to unwanted fat gain over a period of time. Therefore, getting 7-9 hours of sleep is non-negotiable if you are after a serious result.
While sleep quality is important, good quality sleep is also important for getting enough sleep. Interrupted sleep can cut short the time required for effective muscle growth as well. In order to improve your sleep quality, you can look for ways to improve your sleeping hygiene. This includes setting your room up to be dark and comfortable, sleeping with constant white noise, having a fixed bedtime, avoiding stimulants such as caffeine close to bedtime, and keeping your sleep space exclusive for sleeping if possible.
Building muscles take time. You will need to be patient. It is not a process of a few months. It takes years of consistency to see good results, especially if you start from zero training experience. Of course, experience in playing competitive sport at a younger age, good genes, use of drugs, and other factors gives certain people a better advantage over others to achieve results at a much faster rate. Therefore, you will have to treat your journey as your own as it is going to be different from others due to many factors.
A realistic timeframe to achieve a good result is about 2 to 3 years for a natural lifter if you are consistent and have good discipline. A realistic expectation is necessary as well. It is unrealistic to expect you will look like your favorite bodybuilder or famous fitness personality because everyone has different bone structures, muscle insertions, muscle fiber composition, and other factors.
Why it takes so long to build muscles? You will need time to
learn to do the exercises with the correct technique,
learn to establish muscle mind connection to stimulate muscle growth,
adopt habits, including consistent training habits, that help you to build muscles,
increase food intake with good quality food over time to sustain muscle growth (this is harder than you think),
build strength so that you stimulate your muscles to grow through heavy lifting, and
train through a plateau, with a different training strategy if necessary.
You will need to be patient in the process. That’s a saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. That is definitely applicable to the muscle-building process.
Building Muscle is not a “walk in the park” process. It certainly going to take months, even years, to add a decent amount of muscles that can make you an inspiration to many others. The effort you put into your pursuit of the muscular physique will be beneficial to your health in many ways. The end result of this pursuit is not limited to better physical health but also including improved mental health, better lifestyle, and more confidence in life.
Follow with good discipline, these 10 golden rules are good ways to set you up for success in the pursuit of your fitness goal to build more muscles. This is because these rules will help you to develop a set of routines over time with the right ingredients to train smart, eat better, do the right things, and stay consistent. You may not see good results in a few weeks but you will not regret your journey to your goal when you can confidently flex your muscles in front of the mirror even if it takes longer than you expected.
To many of us, healthy life is a life without any sign of physical illnesses or physical pain. When you take a closer look at it, it is not as simple as that. Healthy life involves more than the physical aspect of your overall health. In order to achieve a truly healthy life, you have to take care of your body inside and out (physical), your general wellbeing (mental, emotional, spiritual), your interaction with other people (social), your knowledge and skill development (intellectual), your work-life balance (occupational) and your surrounding (environmental). If any of these health aspects receive less attention than it requires, the balance between them will easily fall apart. When these health aspects are not working in harmony due to the lack of balance, your overall health will be negatively affected even if you don’t experience any negative signs physically. However, your physical health will eventually be compromised if no action is taken to restore the balance.
Fortunately, there are good habits you can adopt to ensure all of your health aspects are not being neglected so that the balance between them can be maintained accordingly. A list of 10 habits, which will cover all of the aspects of a healthy life, is included in this article. Of course, there are other good habits outside of this list. These good habits, unfortunately, are being unfairly omitted to ensure this article is not going to overly extensive read for you.
Habit Number 1: Exercise Regularly
A healthy lifestyle is not going to be completed without a routine to exercise regularly. This is because exercising regularly can be beneficial to many aspects of your life. The most obvious example of these benefits is your improved physical health. With better physical health, you are going to have:
better cardiovascular endurance
better energy level
better body composition (less body fat, more lean mass)
better bone density
better joint health
decreased risk of many obesity-related diseases
Besides that, this habit can help improve sleep, which in turn, improves your attention to your daily tasks. With better capability at handling daily tasks, your confidence and happiness will be positively affected as well.
Habit Number 2: Plan Meals Ahead
Your food choices are playing an essential role in determining if you can sustain good health over your lifetime. This is because the right food choice can ensure that you are getting sufficient nutrients from your diet to nourish your body. In order to make sure your food choices do not stray away from the list of nutrient-dense options too often, you should always plan your meals ahead.
By planning your meals ahead, you can anticipate what you are going to eat in your day. This can help you keep track of the amount of food you eat and the portion size of your meal. Armed with the knowledge of how much you eat and what food do you eat in your usual diet, you will be able to better control your body weight.
Besides that, planning your meal ahead also allows you to leave some rooms from your usual diet to enjoy some good foods with your friends and family during weekends or special occasions.
Habit Number 3: Have a Morning Ritual
Having your daily routine well organized is beneficial to your general health in a few ways. Firstly, the daily routine gives you clarity about your day on a daily basis so that you can have better control over your life. Secondly, you can create a healthy environment to enforce a healthy lifestyle by being able to control your life. Because of that, you will have better confidence to deal with challenges in life and better interaction with others in your social circle.
A well organized day should always start with a morning ritual. This morning ritual can include a range of activities such as making your bed, writing down your daily plan, reciting affirmations, meditating, and exercising.
Habit Number 4: Have a Sleeping Routine
Sleep is one of the most undervalued activities for building a healthy life in modern society. Instead of sleeping, modern lifestyle places a higher priority on spending more time on activities that provide instant gratification such as spending time on streaming services and social media. Sleep is also being sacrificed for the sake of doing more and being more productive in our 24/7 non-stop functioning society. Consequently, your health is deteriorating due to the lack of sleep.
Sleep allows your body to recover from the daily grind so that you will be freshened up for the new grind in the new day when you wake up. Therefore, a good sleeping routine is necessary to put priority back to sleep to pave the way for building a healthy life. This routine should include the following actions:
Go to bed at the same time every day,
Wake up at the same time every day,
Aim to have 7 – 9 hours of sleep per day,
Don’t consume any stimulating foods or drinks before bed,
Sleep in a dark and comfortable room,
Set sleeping space for sleeping purposes. Work and entertainment should have their own spaces, if possible.
Habit Number 5: Prioritize Your Daily Tasks
You are surrounded by many distractions such as social media, video streaming service and etc. These distractions are most likely sharing the same virtual space with your works so they are just one click away from works. If you let your guard down against these distractions, you are going to be tempted to put off your work to get a dose of instant gratification. As a result of putting your work off, you are also going to start off a vicious cycle where your work piles up and you are going to be overwhelmed by the pile-up. This will inevitably add stress to your life because it is hard to take your mind off the accumulating tasks even during your personal break. This stress can then have negative effects on your overall health.
In order to make sure you can keep your focus on your work, you should prioritize your daily tasks based on their importance and urgency. By finishing off the important and urgent tasks at hand, you will be able to remove the stress from being overwhelmed by accumulating tasks. Besides that, you will also be able to enjoy your time outside of work. Therefore, you will not only have a better-managed stress level but also a better work-life balance. Both of these can contribute positively to your overall health.
Habit Number 6: Have a Relaxation Routine
Stress is inevitable in life. A good amount of stress is necessary for achieving your goals in life because it can be a motivating force to drive you to make decisions and take action. However, stress can also have negative effects on your health if you don’t have a good strategy to keep it at a healthy level.
One of the good strategies to manage your stress level is to establish a relaxation routine for you to take regular breaks from life stressors. In your relaxation routine, all you need to do is to spend some time outside of work, family commitment, and fitness-related activities on your hobby. This should be your personal time and space to focus on yourself and what you love to do to relax. If you enjoy the company of your friends and family, spending time with them can also be a part of your relaxation routine to relieve your stress. Besides, a relaxation routine can help you create a better work-life balance as well.
Habit Number 7: Stay Hydrated
Up to 60% of the human body is consists of water. Water plays an essential role in a number of bodily functions, including transporting nutrients and oxygen, removing toxins out of the body, regulating body temperature and etc. Because of that, it is important for you to consistently stay hydrated so your body can do its works optimally. However, it is not uncommon that many of you are not drinking enough water on a daily basis.
Mild dehydration is not only going to have negative effects on many of the bodily functions that require water but thirst as a result of mild dehydration is also going to mask itself as hunger. This hungry feeling will then lead to cravings for snacks between meals. The excess calorie from snacks can push your overall calorie intake into a calorie surplus. Weight gain will then be inevitable if you are on a calorie surplus over a period of time.
Therefore, staying hydrated consistently not only helps you to optimize your bodily functions but it also helps you to better control your hunger as well as your body weight as a result of controlled hunger. In order to make sure you get enough water for optimal health, you can aim for 35-40 ml of water per kg of body weight (0.6 to 0.65 oz of water per lbs of body weight). If you are struggling to drink water, you can start with low-calorie drinks such as the diet version of soft drinks, low-calorie fruit juice, or low-calorie fruit with high water content (watermelon, for example).
Habit Number 8: Learn New Things
Intellectual health is one of the health aspects that does not receive the attention it deserves from most people. It is safe to say that your health would not be complete if you are not putting effort into expanding your knowledge base, skill sets, and insights through learning on a regular basis. There are many forms of learning to build intellectual health, including reading, attending courses (online or face-to-face), listening to audiobooks, mentorship, and etc.
By improving your intellectual health through learning, you are not only going to keep your brain healthy and expand your knowledge but also can slow down your aging process and possibly reduce your risk of certain brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, you can improve your social interaction with others, expand your social circle, and keep your life interesting as well.
Habit Number 9: Socialize with Your Family, Friends and Your Tribe
Socializing with others is an essential part of human life since our ancestors walked the earth. Therefore, it is beneficial for your health to spend some time with your family and friends as part of your social activities. While socializing with others is a time for you to take a break from your life stressors, this is also an opportunity to talk to someone if there is a need to talk about the challenges you are experiencing in your life.
In addition to that, you should also spend with your tribe. Your tribe is a group of people who share similar interests and views as you. These people are happy to celebrate your wins, both big wins, and small wins. They are also happy to help you out when you need help in the pursuit of your ambition. Besides all of that, they could be the inspiration that drives you forward in the endeavor of your life success. Your time with these people is an opportunity to improve your overall life quality.
Habit Number 10: Be Grateful About Good Things In Life and Appreciate More
Oftentimes, it is easy to pay attention to trivial things when they are annoying and inconvenient. Besides, the negativities from our surrounding environment such as news about “dooms and glooms” and destructive debates on our social media newsfeed are not making the world a safe place to enjoy your life.
A good strategy to fight off the negativities is to set a few moments aside in your day to be grateful for the nice things in your life. These things do not have to be as good as world-class achievements or picture-perfect illusions you see on social media. They could be as simple as “sleep in a warm bed at night”, “ the smell of the cup of coffee in the morning”, “ the company of your partner”, “close group of friends who listen to you” and etc. The gratitude you plant into your mind will help you to become more open to appreciating other people and little things in your life. As a result of that, your general wellbeing will be improved as well.
Healthy habits are essential building blocks of a healthy life. This is because healthy habits help you to build a set of positive routines in place for you to follow consistently day after day. There is no need for motivation to drive you to follow these routines because habits set things in motion without you having to think twice about them. For example, you never think twice to pick up your toothbrush to brush your teeth in the morning if brushing your teeth in the morning is a habit for you. Besides, healthy habits enforce a positive attitude towards any circumstance in life.
By adopting these 10 habits, you are setting yourself up to look after all of the aspects of your health. When all of your health aspects are getting the attention they need, they can all work in harmony with each other. As a result, you can rest assured that a healthy life is going to be guaranteed for the rest of your life.
In late 2011, my body weight ballooned up to 94kg, my heaviest in my life, in my attempt to bulk up with diets entirely based on bro-science that promise kilos of muscles within months. It took me two embarrassing incidents to realize that I was not muscle-bound but borderline obese with a 42 inches waist. In the first incident, I hurt my back in a toilet cubicle because the cubicle was too small for me to move around. During another incident, I found out that I had a 42 inches waist in a class assignment for my Certificate of Personal Training course and, apparently, my risk of dying from a heart disease is very high according to The Heart Foundation.
After those two incidents, I decided to lose weight. I cleaned up my diet from all the foods that were supposed to help muscle growth such as milkshakes, burgers, and fries, etc. I was a chocoholic back in the days but I gave up on chocolate in the effort to shed my excess pounds. I also shift my focus on having more unprocessed foods in my diet. In addition to the changes in my diet, I included 3 hourly cardio sessions a week as a part of my fitness regime, which already included 3 weight training sessions, to lose the excess weight. Besides that, I was in a desperate position to improve my body shape as soon as possible before starting my career as a personal trainer.
With my consistent effort, I managed to lose 12 kg over 9 months but I was not happy with the way I look with a slight hint of muffin top still appears around my waist. I wanted a better result so I sought out help around. It did not take me long before the Iow carbohydrate diet was recommended to me. As my progress was hitting a plateau for weeks at the time, I was ready to give anything a try so I adopted the diet without much of a second thought. My initial plan was to stay with the diet for 12 weeks, hence, it was not a very difficult decision for me since I had been on my weight loss journey for more than 9 months at the time.
Even though it was a low carbohydrate diet, it was not exactly a keto diet because the focus was on consuming high protein instead of high fat at the time. The first 2 weeks with the diet were not a pleasant experience because I felt weak and tired most of the time. Due to my lack of energy, training sessions were dreadfully difficult but I fought on regardless. Besides that, I could feel like I was being swept away by tornado every time I turn my body around. Despite the challenges, I was not ready to give up because I was very curious about the end results by the end of the 12 weeks.
Fortunately, I started to adapt to the diet by week 3. By this time, I can feel that my energy was skyrocketing. To my surprise, I started to see the separation of my abdominal muscles for the first time in my life. Apart from that, both of my eczema and asthma conditions were also getting better as well. This is certainly not a piece of evidence that proves the low carbohydrate diet can cure any of these conditions but I must have removed some trigger foods in the process.
When I stepped on the scale for the first time at the end of Week 4 since I adopted the diet, I could almost feel that my jaw dropped to the floor. I dropped 7kg in 4 weeks. A feat that I was never thought possible for me. It was then followed by another 2kg drop by the end of Week 6.
At that time, I firmly believed that the secret of fat loss that could help many to lose weight is in my hands now. I became a diehard believer of the “low carbohydrate” diet and I developed a phobia for carbohydrates. I inadvertently adopted the low carbohydrate for more than 12 weeks. For the next 2 years, I was so afraid of having any form of carbohydrates in my diet apart from vegetables and berries. I also believed that the “low carbohydrate” diet is the solution to solve everyone’s health issues. The “low carbohydrate” craze at the time is making my belief in the “low carbohydrate” diet even stronger. I must say that it was not an easy lesson to learn that I was wrong years after my weight loss. Although I still think the “low carbohydrate” diet has its place to help people to lose weight, I also believe that there are other weight-loss diets that could help different individuals to lose weight effectively.
So what I experienced here may explain why many of the people who would get into many pointless heated arguments with others who disagree with them once they get attached to the diet that changes their lives. You could be one of them if you went through the same process.
The Struggles End With Affection
Falling in love with a diet often starts when you are in an “enough is enough” situation to make a change in your life to improve your health and wellbeing. You make the decision to make the change because you are very uncomfortable with your body weight due to one or a combination of the following reasons.
You feel embarrassed to look at your own reflection in the mirror. Also, you don’t like how you look in the more recent pictures because you look bigger than you thought. You may even feel uncomfortable when you’re standing next to someone who, by your standard, looks more superior than you.
Your current weight poses a few health issues to you such as high blood pressure, asthma and joint pain. A decision to make a change, such as change in diet, to improve your health could be more than a life-changing solution because it could save you from premature death.
Due to your weight, you may also have some unpleasant experiences in your day to day life such as feeling out of breathe when you take a few minutes stroll, tearing a hole in your pants in the public and feeling your midsection pressed against you when you bend over to tie out your shoelace, etc.
Many of your life experiences with the excess weight have become so unbearable for you. As a consequence of that, you are going to do anything in an attempt to lose the excess weight so that you can have better life experiences and, most importantly, regain your confidence. One of the first things you would do after making the decision to lose weight is to change your diet.
Changing your diet is not an easy feat but the pain of living in your current condition is much harder to endure. Therefore, it is a “whatever it takes” circumstance at first. This is also where your perseverance plays an important role. Without your perseverance, you will go back to your old self before you reach your end goal. This is because of the pain of making the change will feel harder for you than living in your old self, especially when the pain is amplified by obstacles and failures you met in the weight loss process.
Assuming that you persevere until you see some changes, you will develop an affection for your current diet. This is probably because you went through many ups and downs with this diet. By sticking to this diet, you overcame your unhealthy relationship with the foods that you connected emotionally in your old diet. In the process, you hit a plateau from time to time as well but you get through these plateaus and see more positive changes happen. These ups and downs are the driven forces to connect you more deeply with the diet you adopted for your weight loss. Therefore, you will also start to believe that this is the only diet to save many from their health problems because it gives you a new life. The bigger the changes, the more invincible the diet becomes. Before you know it, you’re in love with your diet after all the struggles for a healthier life.
Brand New Life Unleashed
When your appearance starts to show signs of weight loss, you will start to receive compliments about your change in appearance from people around you. You will also no longer be ashamed of your own reflection as a result of the showers of compliments you receive from your colleagues, friends and family members. These compliments will, in turn, skyrocket your confidence level to a new high you never know existed.
Besides, you will also have newfound energy to be more physically active after your weight loss. Alongside with your newly gained new confidence, you will be more willing to take on challenging physical activities on the gym floor driven by your desire to get more recognition. This same confidence will also drive you to take on more challenging tasks in other parts of your life such as work and family duties.
With your new aesthetically pleasing physique after your weight loss, you are comfortable in your own skin around other people. You will also have people look up to you because of your transformation. In addition to that, you will have a complete wardrobe change to fit your new body. That piece of nice outfit you always want to fit in is finally fitting you.
The diet completely changes your life for the better. Because of this brand new life, your affection for the diet becomes so strong that you will unreasonably oppose anything that does not follow the rules of your diet. Consequently, you firmly believe that your diet is the best diet in the world and it is the only diet that could save the world from the obesity epidemic.
The Pattern Of The Changes
The pattern is very similar when many individuals like you who fall in love with their diets. You could be starting the diet due to reasons ranging from improving their appearances to surviving from the verge of an obesity-related deadly illness. Throughout the process of following the diet, you go through many ups and downs to reach your end goals. Some of these ups and downs are very personal experiences. Such experiences include
getting rid of foods that have some form of emotional attachment to you,
seeing a number on the weight scale you have not seen for years,
reaching your personal best lift or running time in the gym,
hitting a disappointing weight loss plateau over a longer than expected period of time regardless of the amount of hard works are being put into the process to move the scale down.
After your perseverance through obstacles, you are rewarded with what you want. You gained a new better life with not only improved health but also a better appearance and improvement in many aspects of your life. You are possibly ended up adopting the diet longer than your intended time frame. This is because you are confident that you will be able to maintain the success with the diet and you are too afraid that you are going back to square one at the same time.
Due to your success, you wholeheartedly believe that the diet should help others to change their life for the better. Unfortunately, everyone has their own diet preferences to help them improve their life. Some may work better with a keto diet, some may work better with a vegan diet. The rest may work better with other types of diet available out there. Therefore, you have to understand that there are a lot of underlying reasons why your diet is not the solution to others to achieve their fitness goal such as weight loss.
Best Diet Is The One That Works Best For You
When you pick a diet for your fitness goal, you are most likely going to pick the one that allows you to maintain a high level of adherence without being stressed out. There are many factors that dictate the choice of your best diet such as
Everyone has different lifestyles. Some of you will have the freedom to break your daily food intake into 3 to 5 meals a day while the rest will most likely be able to have 2 meals a day due to a busier work schedule. Therefore, it is very important to consider how easy it is to fit the diet around your lifestyle. Besides, you are more likely to be comfortable adopting a more drastic diet approach for your weight loss if you are already a health-conscious individual compared to individuals who just started out in their fitness journey.
Depends on your culture, some of the foods in a certain diet may not fit well in the ways of life in your culture. For example, eating meat in some cultures for breakfast, in general, does not appear to be very appealing while eating meat for breakfast is the norm of many other cultures. Therefore, the keto diet will work better for the latter.
While this is similar to cultural background, some people just prefer to have a plant-based diet without the cultural influence.
Human beings are usually drawn to social interaction unless you’re an introvert. Therefore, you are most likely going to eat with friends and family regularly where foods are beyond your control. In this case, you just have to learn how to use strategy to avoid food overconsumption, recognize your fullness cue and say “No” to more foods when you’re full without sacrificing your social life.
Some diets cost considerably more than other diets to maintain over a long period of time. Besides, some of you may have other priorities when it comes to budgeting, hence, that may affect how much you’re going to allocate your budget into foods.
Some of you may only have a limited time frame to reach your fitness goal such as getting ready for your wedding. In this case, you are more driven to take on a more drastic diet approach to reach your weight loss goal. While some of you may not be ready to be overwhelmed by big changes in your diet, a longer time frame is more likely going to be more helpful for you to improve your health.
This is why what works for you is not necessarily suitable for others. Therefore, you should always be mindful and respectful of other’s choices of diet. Besides, it is never an effective approach to force your way of thinking into others to change their diet.
On the other hand, this is also why the best diet is the one that works for you because the factors described just fit well for you to persevere through the most defeating obstacles in the process until you reach your desired goal.
Conclusion: You’re Half Right. Diet Is A Tool Not The Key
Your success of weight loss always starts with taking the necessary action to make it happens because you were very uncomfortable with your life experiences as an overweight individual. One of the action you take is changing your diet. Changing your diet can be a very personal experience for you as you will have to get rid of many triggered foods that establish an emotional connection with you. During the process, you will have some small wins. Apart from the wins, your efforts will also be met with frustrating obstacles and disappointing plateaus throughout the process. Therefore, you will develop a strong attachment to your diet when you successfully lose the undesirable excess weight. After the weight loss, your new life will become very different from the one you used to have. In this new life, you will not only look better in your appearance but feel more confident and more energetic to take on more challenging tasks at work, gym and home. This new life will also, in turn, leads you to become a firm believer that your diet is the best diet to solve everyone’s weight problem.
The diet that works for you is no doubt helping you to reach your weight loss goal. However, it will not be the solution for everyone due to many factors. These factors include lifestyle, cultural background, food preference, environment, food budget, and time frame. These factors will influence the level of adherence of different individuals to their chosen diet. Your chosen diet that leads you to your weight loss success is just the right fit for you to consistently maintain your adherence to it.
This is how the best diet works. The better the diet fits into your life, the more consistent you can adhere to the diet. Therefore, the easier for you to persevere when you meet obstacles and the more likely you will reach your goal. As a conclusion, the best diet is the one that fits your life well and have rooms for you to maintain your adherence consistently. This consistent adherence is the key to the success of your weight loss while your diet is just your chosen tool to accomplish your weight loss goal. For everybody else, your tool may not be the best tool for them so they will have to pick their own tool to win their weight-loss battles.
You often have the expectation of what you can do or what you cannot do at a certain age in your lifetime. One of the things that you are not expecting that you can do in your middle age is that you can start training with weight because going to the gym to lift weight seems like a hobby for young people to build muscles. There could also be many other unfounded reasons to stop you from weight training in the gym. The following are just a few common ones.
You might avoid training with weight because you are afraid that you will injure yourself. Fortunately, weight training is a very safe approach to improve your fitness when it is done with precaution.
You do not want to do training with weights because you don’t think you are either good enough or strong enough. The truth is you don’t have to be fit or strong to start lifting weight but you can definitely start to train with weight now to become fitter and stronger. After all, you must start somewhere in everything that you do and you had done it many times before. With consistent effort, you will eventually be much better than you are now.
You worry that you will be judged in the gym by other gym members. This is how every beginner feels when they are starting out in the gym. After a while, you will get used to the environment and you will realize that you focus on your own workout and progress most of the time. The other gym members are most likely doing the same. They are just focusing on their own workouts.
Nevertheless, the starting point can often be very challenging regardless of your fitness level. This is where you have to be open-minded to making changes and putting up with slow progress. So where do we begin with your weight training now that you are not young anymore? It is simple. Just like everyone else. Regardless of age, everyone starts the same way. Everyone starts by focusing mainly on their training and diet. In addition to that, the focus will also extend to other parts of your life such as stress level, sleep, work commitment, and family time, etc.
Why training with weight is good for you?
Your body is an amazing machine. If you put effort into improving your health, your body would respond to it by rewarding you with many health benefits. The health benefits of putting your effort into weight training include:
Increased energy level,
Decreased risk of many diseases including Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Obesity-related disease and certain types of Cancer,
Decreased body fat,
Increase muscle mass,
Increase bone density, which can help prevent osteoporosis in older female population,
Improve mental toughness,
Aesthetically pleasing physique,
And many more.
It really does not matter if you are over 40s, unfit, overweight and uncoordinated at the start. All you need is consistency, patience and willingness to take ownership of your actions. The progress is not an easy process and could be very frustrating at times because your progress will be small for months or even years. At a certain point in your progress, you will most likely hit a plateau where you will not see any positive changes. The urge to call it quit will be high at this point. I can assure you that this happens to everyone in anything that they are trying to achieve. According to the book “Atomic Habit” written by James Clear, this is called “valleys of disappointment”. Once you get over these “valleys of disappointment”, you will start to see a burst of positive changes as well. You just need to be patient when you are making slow progress. There is a reason why we call “patience” a virtue.
Besides, you will have many opportunities to learn how to work with your own body over a substantial period of time if you pay attention to the process. This knowledge can help you to develop a system of habits that fits your lifestyle to help you maintain your health for many years to come. This knowledge is not something that you can acquire from making unsustainable drastic changes to achieve results over a short period of time. Many people who achieved results in 12 weeks cannot maintain their success for long because they took unsustainable drastic measures to reach their goals. Therefore, you should make sustainable progress instead of rushing the process.
Let’s talk about training
Being at an older age, you may not be able to train with weights like your younger counterparts in their 20s or their early 30s. Even though your training volume per session may be similar to them, your recovery between sessions will most likely be longer than those of your younger counterparts. Training twice a day or training more than 5 days a week will be out of the question for many of you in your middle age. Despite you cannot train as often, one thing for sure if you start training with weight now is that you will eventually be stronger than your younger self.
Sounds exciting! So what do you do at the beginning of your journey into the world of lifting?
Since you’re a beginner, you will start with lighter weight to build your strength up. Using lighter weight in the gym is a great opportunity to learn the correct technique to execute exercises correctly before you increase your weight to make further progress in your training. Spending time on fine-tuning your technique for different exercises allows you to establish a good muscle mind connection to execute the exercises correctly. When you are doing an exercise with correct execution, you can activate the right muscle groups for the exercise to maximize your training effects. Executing exercises with the right technique can also greatly reduce your risk of injury, especially when you train with heavier weight.
Since you are lifting with lighter weight at the beginning, you can train with a higher number of repetitions per set. For example, the 3 sets of 8 and the 3 sets of 12. This number of repetitions is known to effectively give your muscles enough training volume to stimulate muscle growth or strength gain without causing too much fatigue during the set. If you are a female, the idea of “muscle growth” from weight training may be an intimidating one. Fortunately, you are going to grow muscles at the rate of your male counterpart. Besides, the health benefits of weight training outweigh your concern of looking too masculine. Please do not let the keyboard warriors, who know nothing about weight training, stop you from training with weight. You decide if training weight is beneficial for your health, not other people.
As you grow stronger, you can start to train with the lower rep range because the weight that you will be lifting is more taxing on your nervous system. You will also need longer rest between sets to let you recover enough to continue with the training set.
A training plan for you as a beginner should incorporate compound exercises to help you build your strength foundation. What are compound exercises? Compound exercises are the exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. The main 6 compound exercises for building foundation strength are squat, deadlift, chest press, pull up, shoulder press, and dip. Spend a good amount of time on these 6 exercises will definitely make you stronger. Apart from compound exercises, you can also add isolation exercises to your training plan. Isolation exercises are the exercises that only work a single muscle group. These isolation exercises are usually used for aesthetical purposes (look good naked) but they can also help you to strengthen your weaker muscles as well. The ratio of the number of compound exercises to the number of isolation exercises for your training plan is depending on what is your goal and which muscle requires more of your effort to help you develop a more comprehensive strength.
As an older trainee, another thing that requires more attention from you than your younger counterparts is your range of motion. At the beginner stage of your training, you may not be able to do certain exercises properly because your muscles are too tight to execute the exercise in the full range of motion. Hence, it is important to incorporate a warm-up routine to get you ready for exercising and a cool-down routine to help you recover better from training. Both of these routines should be consists of stretching exercises to increase your flexibility and mobility drills to improve your range of motion. Your training will be more effective and your risk of injury will be greatly reduced with better flexibility and improved range of motion.
Therefore, your training plan cannot be taken easily. It has to be smart enough to
have you train with both compound exercises and isolation exercises with appropriate compound exercises to isolation exercises ratio depends on your goal and your training progress,
help you learn the lifting technique for different exercises so you can work your muscles properly,
have enough training volume to stimulate both muscle growth and strength gain,
have adequate recovery between sessions,
incorporate warm-up routine and cool-down routine to improve your movement and reduce the risk of injury.
You need a plan for your nutrition too
In order to optimize your training effects, you cannot just solely rely on your training to do the job. You will need a good nutrition plan that you can follow with high compliance to facilitate your training and your recovery as well. Without a nutrition plan that you can follow, even the best training plan will not do its wonder to help you make good progress. You might end up taking three steps forward two steps back.
So what can you do with your nutrition to ensure you get the best result you can from your training?
While you should put more focus on good quality foods such as lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, you are best not to make a drastic change on your diet to make it overly restrictive. This is because it can be very overwhelming to cut out too many foods that have an emotional connection with you. The unsustainability of such a diet can cause you to fall off the wagon after a while. In addition to that, you can develop a bad relationship with foods if you adopted a diet with an overly restrictive nature.
Therefore, making small changes will be a better solution to set you up for success. You can start by adding good quality food into your diet without drastically remove the foods from your current diet. Once you are consistently complying with the initial change, you can add more good quality foods into your diet and start working with calories or portion control to determine how much food is adequate to help you reach your fitness goal.
As an older adult, it is also important to make sure you consume sufficient protein to optimize your recovery. This is because your body is less efficient in processing protein, hence, an adequate amount of protein can help you to better maintain muscle mass and bone health. An adequate amount of protein in your diet also necessary for muscle repair from the exercise-induced muscle damages, which occur to improve muscle size and strength, on your trained muscles.
Besides, you should adopt a mindful eating approach so that you can have some flexibility to enjoy eating out, take away foods and junk foods. Mindful eating can prevent you from overconsumption of junk foods while maintaining focus on good quality foods.
Adopting mindful eating can be a slow process. Fortunately, this process will help you understand how your body works with foods. By understanding how your body works with food, you will be able to manipulate your diet to fit your goal and lifestyle. Although this understanding is not something you can achieve over 12 weeks, it is something that can help you maintain a healthy weight for years after you reach your initial fitness goal.
Your recovery goes beyond your nutrition plan
In order to make good progress, a good recovery protocol is essential. Recovery protocol is consist of your diet, sleeping routine and relaxation routine. Therefore, your recovery will go beyond the aforementioned nutrition plan.
At an older age, you are more in need of good quality restful sleep nightly to recover from your training than your younger self. The first step to improve your sleep is to put your sleep on your top priority list of things to do on a daily basis. You must put sleep before other unproductive late-night activities. A good rule of thumb for getting enough sleep is to aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep will not only be optimal for helping you recover well before your next training session but also be optimal for maintaining your general health.
Besides that, getting good quality sleep nightly is more than just sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. It is very important to make sure that your sleeping hygiene is in check as well. The following is a list of things you can do to practice good sleeping hygiene:
Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool
Go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every day
Do not do anything or eat anything that stimulates your brain before bedtime
Avoid long daytime nap (no more than 30 minutes)
Apart from sleep, a relaxation routine is also an essential part of your recovery. You, in your middle age, will be more benefited than your younger counterparts from having a relaxation routine because the stress from health, work, finances, and family you experiencing is most likely peaking in this stage of your life.
Your relaxation routine is consists of activities outside of fitness so that you can create a more balanced lifestyle, improve your social circle and improve your mental health.
Everyone’s relaxation routine can be very different. You could be
Simply sitting in front of your couch and watch TV
Doing favorite hobby by yourself such as reading, drawing, stargazing, and etc.
Spending time with your friends and family.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of having an established relaxation routine. This relaxation routine will not only help you to get ready for your next training session with adequate recovery but the routine also going to:
help increase your mental focus and performance on your work because it is also acting as a mental break from life stressors.
build better relationships with family and friends because you will have allocated time to do things with them in your relaxation routine.
allow you to have a mindful approach to enjoy food with your friends and family
Habits for long-lasting health
Now you know that training with weights is more than just exercising if you are seriously looking at improving your health and life quality. However, it is also more than just knowing that you will need a nutrition plan and recovery protocol as well. You will need to establish a system of habits to effectively put your training plan, nutrition plan as well as recovery protocol together for you to follow. By following these habits, you are not going to just see positive results but also be able to maintain the result for the long term.
However, adopting new habits to transform your current lifestyle into a new one with dedicated timeslots for training, some restrictions on food as well as changes on the priority of daily activities can be a daunting task. These habits are going to require some commitments from you over a period of time that last much longer than the typical 12 weeks body transformation.
With the expectation to achieve success over a short period of time such as 12 weeks, most beginners often rush the process by making many drastic changes at one time. Such a mistake is the main reason why they give up before they see any result. For this reason alone, do not be one of them is my advice to you regardless of what is the outcome you expect from training with weight.
In order to achieve your desired outcome from weight training, a better approach is to make small changes. It will be a long process as you will have to make a series of changes, one by one. Fortunately, these small changes will add up after a while. If you aim to be 1% better every day, you will be more than 37 times better than your starting point after a year. Of course, this is an oversimplified scenario and there will be setbacks and plateau. Most importantly, an improvement is still an improvement. Once these habits are formed, you don’t even need any motivation to live a healthier life and you will more likely to get back on track even if you slip occasionally.
It is important for you to understand that a system of habits is the backbone to hold your training plan, nutrition plan, and recovery protocol together to help you transition from a beginner to an advanced trainee. It is also going to set you up for long term success without the frequent needs of motivation.
Your age is not a limitation for you to start training with weight. Neither your fitness level nor other people’s view of you in the gym. You just need to start now and you will improve along the way. Besides, many aspects of your life apart from your body will be benefited from the training as well.
In order to get the most out of your training, you will need a smart training plan designed for your goal, a nutrition plan that optimizes your training and fits your lifestyle, and a recovery protocol with a good sleeping routine and a relaxation routine.
Your training plan as a beginner will focus on training with high repetition and lighter weight. This will help you develop muscle-mind connection to activate the right muscle and learn the correct lifting technique to avoid injury. Your training plan should include compound movement for your strength foundation. Isolation exercises can be included in your training plan for improving the strength of your weaker muscles as well as aesthetical goal. As an older trainee, you should put more effort into reducing your muscle tightness and improving your range of motion so that you can train with a reduced risk of injury. Therefore, your training plan should also include stretching and mobility drills as warm-up and cool-down.
For your nutrition, it is best to make small changes to improve your diet. Small changes are more sustainable compared to drastic change. Besides, small changes are more likely to set you up for long term success. Your eventual nutrition goal is to prioritize good quality foods such as lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds while using a mindful eating approach to maintain some flexibility to treat yourself. Being a trainee at middle age, you will have to make sure that you consume enough protein to help your muscles recover well from training.
In order to optimize your training outcome, you must have a good recovery protocol that includes sleep and relaxation. For your sleep, you should aim for a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly. You should also maintain a good sleeping hygiene to ensure your sleep quality is optimal. For your relaxation, you should have a relaxation routine to spend time on your personal choice of non-exercise activities to help you reduce stress and achieve work-life balance so that you can have a more comprehensive recovery from your training. As a middle-age trainee, you are more in need of a good recovery protocol than younger trainees as you will take longer time to recover from your training.
Most importantly, your training plan, nutrition plan as well as your recovery protocol has to be put together in a system of habits to ensure you have long term success from your training regardless of your goal. This is because a system of habits will keep you putting consistent effort on a daily basis in the pursuit of your fitness goal without the need for motivation. Although this system of habits will take time to build through a series of small changes, these small changes will add up over time to change your life for the better forever.
Are you convinced yet that training with weight is the right choice for you? I hope that you are.