When I first started out on my health and fitness journey more than 12 years ago, I made a lot of mistakes. It has taken me years of trial and error and constant learning to get to where I am now.
Whether you’ve been working out and eating healthy for years or you’re just starting out, you can learn from my mistakes. Here are five things I wish I had known when I started my health and fitness journey.
Strength training is more effective than cardio
- Cardio worked for me in the beginning. But over time, I hit a plateau and my body stopped changing. It wasn’t until I discovered strength training that I learned how much more effective it is for long-term results.
- Strength training builds muscle which helps the body be more effective at burning fat. It makes you stronger and more capable.
- Cardio breaks the body down, strength training builds the body up.
Macros matter as much (if not more) than calories
- Calories are crucial for weight loss, but what makes up those calories plays a huge role in how you look and feel.
- Your body needs the right amount of protein, carbs and healthy fats to function as well as to build muscle tissue and burn fat.
- One hundred calories of carbs is not used by the body in the same way as one hundred calories of protein or fat. Learn the difference then eat balanced meals for a healthy diet that produces results.
Squat heavy and squat deep
- Squats aren’t nearly as effective with light weight and above-parallel reps.
- You sit down in a chair and stand up from a chair a million times a day. If you want to challenge your booty beyond that you need to add more weight and sit lower when you squat.
- Squatting heavy and deep better targets the gluteal muscles and causes them to grow. That creates a higher, tighter, rounder booty.
Extreme low calorie dieting (especially when combined with intense exercise) is dangerous
- Pushing too hard with exercise and eating too few calories while training for my first fitness competition threw my metabolism and hormones out of whack.
- This period of too little food intake and too much exercise left me with metabolic damage and hypothyroidism that I am still battling years later.
- Slow and steady, with a small calorie deficit and a realistic amount of exercise is far better than rushing into an extreme diet and exercise program that provides quick results with a nasty rebound.
Don’t try to do it all alone
- In the beginning I wanted to do it all by myself and learn as much as I could about diet and exercise. What I later realized was you learn more by interacting with others.
- One of the best ways to learn is by working with someone who has different knowledge, experience and expertise than you.
- We sometimes can’t see things in ourselves that others recognize. Having a coach or working with a trainer allows you to get an outsider’s point of view and learn things you might otherwise never discover.
Health and fitness is a long process and we’re always changing, growing and learning new things. That is why I refer to it as my fitness journey. But the more you know, the more you can avoid spending time (and energy) fixing mistakes. It’s better to avoid making them altogether!