We try to anticipate questions you might have about your health and fitness. Listed below you may find the answers to get you started and on your way to a new you.
If you need additional information or have a specific question send your email to the firstname.lastname@example.org link below.
1. What do I need to start a fitness program?
There are four things needed once you begin a fitness program. First, there needs to be commitment. You need to be determined to stick with a balanced program, despite the temptations and distractions. Second, goals should be set. The best way to accomplish this is to begin with short-term goals (i.e. reduce 1-2 dress sizes with 30-45 days). All goals should be S.M.A.R.T. This means: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Trackable. Check your goals daily, or weekly at a minimum. Third, you need motivation. This could be through a fitness buddy or personal trainer; however, it should come later from within you. If you rely solely on external motivation then once it is removed your chances of continuing decreases. Finally, there needs to be a plan. As the saying goes, “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” There should be a plan defining your exercise and nutrition. This can be done through independent research or a fitness professional.
2. “I have never worked out, or it has been a long time, what should I expect?”
Honestly, you should expect to be sore; however, not deep muscle pain that limits your movement. The soreness should be manageable, and you should feel as if the muscles were worked out. Stretching and increasing water consumption will minimize soreness. If you can hardly move it likely means is that you overtrained and did too much. Do not let that stop you in your quest to become fit, just use it as a “teachable” moment. Of course if your pain is severe and is accompanied by swelling or other conditions then seek medical attention.
3. “Should I eat before or after I workout?”
Both. It is important to “fuel” your body prior to exercise for peak performance, and”refuel” after in order to keep your metabolism high and build lean muscle. If you delay your meals and then workout, you are asking your body to work on its”reserve”tank. In addition to lowering your metabolism, you place yourself in greater risk of injury. Make sure you allow yourself around one hour in order for your food to digest and enough blood available for your vital organs during your exercise regimen. Also make sure your meal/snack is not too heavy in protein and/or fat as those take longer to get through your digestive track.
4. “My goal is to lose weight. Why should I build muscle?”
If your goal is to lose weight then you are interested in the best way to burn calories – right? A pound of muscle burns around 30-50 calories compared to fat which only burns about 7-9 calories. Math is in muscle’s favor! Remember, the bottom line is to create a caloric deficit which comprises of burning calories and calorie reduction. The other benefit is the more muscle you have the less your heart has to work in pumping blood through your body, thus lowering your resting heart rate and blood pressure.
5. “Does muscle weigh more than fat?”
NO! A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. A pound is a pound. What is true is that a pound of fat takes up more storage space than a pound of muscle. For example, a woman who weighs 140 lbs. and has good muscle tone may be 1-2 dress sizes smaller than a similar woman weighing the same, but with more body fat. The woman with good muscle tone carries less body fat because her body is comprised of more muscle than fat which allows her to fit in the smaller size(s). The two women weigh the same; however, one looks leaner and tone because her body weight has a higher percentage of muscle. They weigh the same, yet look different. Again, which one would you rather like more of?
6. “I skip meals or often go long periods without eating, yet I’m not hungry. Is this okay? I’ve lost weight doing this before.”
Your body need food to function just like your car needs fuel to perform. Skipping meals or going long periods (greater than 4-5 hours) without eating lowers your metabolism and places the body under stress. Your body will then use stored fat as its energy source; however, the next time you eat it will store the majority of those calories as fat to replace what it used during the starvation mode – even it was a healthy choice. It is doing that to protect you and your cells. When your stomach growls, it’s reminding you that it is ready for more fuel. We all know what happens if you ignore your fuel indicator light in the car. The same happens with our body, our blood sugar (energy) drops and so does our performance, alertness, etc. As the saying goes, “Don’t Bonk!” When someone loses weight on this program, they are actually losing more muscle opposed to fat, and that is a dangerous illusion because their body fat ratio can increase. Don’t play that game. Be patient, be smart, and beware!
7. “My goal is to tone. How many repetitions should I be doing?”
For a person moderately active 12-15 repetitions and 2 sets starting off. Once the exercise and weight is no longer challenging you can increase your sets (1-2) and/or repetitions (8-10). This usually occurs between 2-4 weeks of consistent exercise activity. Remember, when beginning an exercise program always consult with your physician to assist you with your health goals and any limitations. Starting out a person should begin with 8-12 repetitions and no more than 2 sets. Pay attention to your breathing (exhale in the positive phase of the exercise), core tight (abs firm) throughout routine, and proper exercise form. To be absolutely sure you are working smarter think about using a personal trainer to get you started. Remember, in order to achieve the best muscle tone you must make an equal commitment to proper nutrition. Nutrition is 80% of the game!
8. “How much time do I need to invest a day in order to reach my goal? 20 minutes a day? 30?”
This depends on your goal. If you are seeking weight-loss and have only 20 minutes daily to spare it is possible; however, it will require patience. You will need to make a serious commitment to your nutrition through counting calories and dedicate yourself to the best exercise activity for those 20 minutes. For general health and fitness the American Dietetic Association, U.S. Surgeon General, American Heart Association, and other agencies have recently increased their recommendations to moderate exercise 5 times a week for 30-60 minutes in order to combat the recent and rapid growth of obesity for adults & youth. The question really becomes, how patient and dedicated are you? There is no substitute for hard work, and no short cuts to effective weight-loss. Most importantly do not forget to combine your efforts with a solid nutrition program.
9. “Is there a best time to workout?”
NO! The best time to workout is when you CAN and WILL consistently commit the time. It’s different for everyone. This doesn’t matter if it is 8 am or 8 pm. All fueling and refueling principles are the same before and after exercise. Stay dedicated and stay motivated!
10. “I’m getting bored with my routine, what should I do?”
Change it! You’ve hit a plateau and your body has become used to the stimulus and is not getting the benefit it once did. The muscles get bored, then they send a signal to your brain indicating they’re not being challenged. Your program should be changed every 2-3 weeks (depending on your body, exercise activity level, and frequency of exercise) in order to prevent plateaus.
11. “If I have a cold can I still workout?”
As long as you do not have a fever, any symptoms that are causing discomfort or restrictions (breathing, joint or muscle aches, etc.), you should be fine. If you have a runny nose and no other symptoms, you could continue. It may be more of an annoyance than an excuse to not exercise. This is an area of common sense – so definitely use it! You should always contact your physician to get approval if you have any doubts.
12. “What if mentally I can’t do it today, should I?”
Of course if there has been a tragic event in your life or that has touched you in a significant way, I would not advocate working out immediately. It may be hard for you to focus on exercise technique and monitoring your heart rate, which may be under stress already. However, this is more a personal choice. I know clients who prefer to jog after a tragedy because it allows them to think, sort out their thoughts, develop resolutions and/or strategies, or simply move on with life. Make your personal choice when it comes to this area. Good Luck!
13. “Should I take vitamins?”
This is more a question for your physician because they know you and your medical history. They also would have a better idea as to whether you are deficient multi-vitamin because most people do not get the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals through their daily intake. They may also suggest additional supplements such as iron (anemia) or vitamin D (calcium). Call or visit your doctor – your health is worth it!
14. “Why is water so important? Could I just drink juice instead?”
There are so many technical reasons, but I’ll sum it up in one sentence. Water is important in transporting glucose (blood sugar), increasing metabolic efficiency, and rids the body of toxins and wastes, therefore improving energy levels. Juice contains a lot of sugar, and you are better off having the fruit for other benefits like the fiber you get from the skin. Juice also is where many people pick up those extra calories which add to their waist line. If you don’t believe me take a look at the serving size of the glass or bottle that you normally have – most people have 2-3 more than the listed serving size.
15. “I’ve never had a personal trainer, what should I expect?”
You should expect a fitness professional who will aid you in reaching your health and fitness goals. Do not expect a person who will workout for you and single-handedly reshape your body alone. That comes from you. Remember, a personal trainer impacts about 20% of your fitness program and is with you for around an hour in the day. You control 80% through your nutrition and have 23 hours to make good or poor choices that impact your goal. Your trainer will challenge you with exercises, ensure you will not hit a plateau or adjust your program when in one, question you on your eating choices/habits, provide expertise on the correct exercise techniques to promote safety, and finally motivate you towards accomplishing your goals (short and long term). In short, you have a partner that will hold you accountable!
16. “When should I expect to see results from starting an exercise program?”
Again, this depends on your commitment and goal. If you are seeking to lose a small amount of weight or body fat, then within 30-45 days you should begin to see changes. This also depends on the frequency of exercise, as well. For example if you workout only once a week, then you may have limited results and would really need to be strict about your nutrition. The American Dietetic Association says that between 1-2 lbs. per week is safe and healthy weight-loss. Anything more than 2 lbs. per week tends to be more muscle than fat which isn’t great for your body. The initial changes you can expect come in the form of dress sizes and increased energy levels throughout the day, depending on your eating choices/habits. The key is commitment to nutrition in harmony with consistent exercise. You cannot expect healthy long-term results if you workout, yet neglect nutrition. Good health requires good exercise and nutrition.