Getting yourself to optimal fitness involves more than just going to the gym regularly. If you aren’t seeing the results you desire, make sure you dial these factors in.
Sleep deprivation is becoming an epidemic and a good night’s rest is one of the most underrated factors for strength and muscle gain. Restful sleep of adequate duration is an important regulator of mood, appetite, body composition and overall health. A review published by Knutson and colleagues in 2015 concluded: “Chronic sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via multiple pathways, including an adverse effect on parameters of glucose regulation, a dysregulation of the neuroendocrine control of appetite leading to excessive food intake, and decreased energy expenditure.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394987/
2. Time Management
You move city, get a new job, or a promotion. All the added work and a new schedule has you going to the gym less often, and those hard earned gains start disappearing. Though some life changes are out of our direct control, there are certain steps you can take to better manage your time and prepare for any unexpected snags. Meal prep over the weekend, keep your gym bag and clothes ready before going to bed, put in a jar of overnight oats in the fridge so that you don’t snack on junk at office, and of course, prioritize sleep.
3. Stress Management
Stress, anxiety and depression are real, overwhelming and detrimental to the quality of life of the sufferer. They can also make a big dent in your health and fitness goals. Denial of these disorders by patients or their near ones only worsens the problem. Ditch the stigma and consult a psychiatrist if you suspect you have any of these conditions. Mental health disorders are highly amenable to treatment. The Government of India has recently passed a Mental Healthcare Act. Read about it here: https://the-ken.com/mental-health-right/
4. NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)
The hours spent outside the gym greatly exceed those spent inside. How you utilize the vast majority of the time outside of exercise contributes significantly to your activity level and goes a long way in improving fitness and body composition. The few extra calories spent taking a post dinner stroll, walking up the stairs and taking calls standing up, add up. Non exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT can be a game changer in the road to fat loss. According to a study published in 2015, “NEAT movements could result in up to an extra 2000 kcal of expenditure per day beyond the basal metabolic rate, depending on body weight and level of activity.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25841254
5. Tracking your progress
It is essential to keep a track of your fitness progress. Exercise logs determine the weight you add to the bar in your next workout. Nutrition tracking can help ensure you aren’t overshooting or undershooting your macro targets. For women, keeping a track of the menstrual cycle can help monitor cravings, mood and exercise performance. Progress pictures taken every 12 weeks will give you the motivation you need when the scale isn’t moving along as fast as you want it to.
6. Stay in touch with your coach
It is imperative that you give your coach regular feedback about your progress and pitfalls. Programs can be modified and evolved only when your coach receives consistent feedback. You may also be able to adhere more closely to a nutrition and training regimen by being accountable to your coach.
Bad days are inevitable. For long term success, it is better to ditch the “all or nothing” approach and stop thinking in blacks and whites. Not all is lost over one, big unplanned meal. Get back to routine the next day.
Are you really working hard? Or are you just going through the motions and hoping for results? Take a step back and take stock. Don’t deceive yourself into believing that you’re putting in more effort than you actually are. Realizing your personal limitations, admitting your mistakes and being honest with yourself will help you develop self-awareness and prevent frustration.
The human body is very adaptive to increased training loads and volume. But this is not a fact to be taken for granted. Injuries, however small, should be attended to at the earliest. Spending enough time warming up and cooling down ensures longevity in the gym, prepares your nervous system for the workout, maximizes joint and connective tissue health, and ensures safety and better performance.