7 Secrets to Success

# 1: Benefits of Exercise

There are a large number of benefits to exercise. I would like to talk about a few in this write up. Many people who don’t exercise ask the question, “why exercise?” I hope by the end of this information you are asking yourself “why not exercise?”

The number one reason to exercise is energy. It only takes a short time for my clients to express to me the new found energy that comes along with working out. I understand everyone doesn’t immediately feel the benefits of increased energy throughout the day but there are many more health benefits I’d like to talk about.

Exercise makes you feel better. It increases your self esteem and also releases endorphins. Without getting too technical, endorphins are the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your body. These are brought about by not only exercising but also at times when you laugh or feel a sense of relief, which is another reason exercise is used by many people as stress relief.

Osteoporosis is a major concern for everyone, not just those of us who are getting older. We lose bone mass every year after the age of 25. Resistance training is the best way to increase bone mass and density. If you do nothing to prevent osteoporosis now, it will be a concern in the future which is a fact.

High blood pressure is another concern for a large part of the population. Exercise is great for the heart. It lowers your blood pressure as well as your heart rate. Countless studies back up these facts and I have seen from firsthand experience how exercise can reduce both heart rate and blood pressure. If either your heart rate or blood pressure is high your heart is working much harder than it should (at rest mind you) which is cause for health problems in the future.

Burning fat and losing weight are some of the main reasons most exercise. We also exercise to build, sculpt, and tone muscle. If none of these are a concern for you, exercise for your health, feel better about yourself and lead a healthier better lifestyle through exercise and nutrition.

#2: Getting Started

Most people don’t know how to get started the proper way, with good reason. The gym can be intimidating to anyone that is not used to being there. Everyone looks like they know what they are doing, there is an endless amount of equipment that you have no idea how it’s used or what it’s for. It’s easy to turn around and head straight home. It’s not so bad once you get going and I’d like to explain a little about the proper way to go about it.

The number one concern for you is consistency. Consistency out rules any major factor when it comes to getting started in the gym which includes: intensity, duration and frequency. You have to make the gym a habit. Put it at the top of your list and make sure nothing gets in the way of it. Once you start going on a regular basis you take the next step. For the first couple weeks you can show up at your scheduled time and only be there for 20 minutes. Stretch for 10 minutes and do cardio for 10 minutes. That sounds a little easier doesn’t it? Remember consistency, it is very important.

Goals are very important as well as progression. Goals I’ll leave for another time but I would like to talk about progression. Many people start out the same way they always do and after a short time lose interest and stop going. If you continue to go about anything the same way your results will always be the same. Change the formula. Jumping on a piece of cardio equipment and going full tilt for as long as you can is not the correct way. You need to use progressions. Baby steps are an important factor for your success in the gym.

There is a proper sequence that should be followed if you want to train the correct way. Warming up is as important as anything otherwise you jump into your routine without your muscles being ready for what you are about to put them through. A five minute warm up is all you need to get your blood flowing from your core to your muscles. This should break a sweat while you slowly elevate your heart rate to get it at your target or training heart rate zone.

Once you hit your target heart rate you will want to keep it at or around the same level for the duration of your cardio session. That could be ten minutes if you are a beginner. Following your cardio session you can head over to the weight unless it is not a weight day. If it is a weight day you will cool down after the resistance training session. If you are not lifting weights today you can remain on your choice are cardio equipment.

Cool down is just the opposite of a warm up. You want to slowly reduce the level of your heart rate and bring the blood back to your core. This will prevent blood from pooling in your legs and reduce the amount of lactic acid formed while exercising which is the reason you are sore the next day.

Finally you will want to end with a good stretch. This should take about ten minutes. Go through all of the major muscle groups, especially the muscle groups you used during exercise. This will also reduce lactic acid, could possibly prevent injury and keep you fresh and ready for the next day.

It is important you remember consistency and progressions to start properly. Then you follow the correct sequence and you are well on your way. Very soon you will be comfortable in a gym environment and you will feel all the benefits exercise has to offer.

#3: Nutrition

You can look anywhere to find all kinds of different examples of nutrition and diets and the latest fad or craze. My goal in this portion of the ‘7 Secrets’ is to explain the importance of nutrition and give you the basics.

Everything you put in your body effects the way you are. Food affects your mind, your mood, level of energy and your physique. It is important for you to give your body the proper nutrients it needs to function at its optimal level. If you exercise you are burning and using nutrients which need to be replaced. In this case you need more food then you would usually eat. If you are not exercising your body still needs to have energy through nutrients in food to get you through the day.

Water could be the most important thing you put in your body. There are endless benefits from consuming water, starting from better skin to increased metabolism. For the purpose of this paper l would like to talk about the latter. The number one way to burn fat throughout the day is to get your metabolism running constantly. You can’t lift weights all day, you can’t do cardio all day but through food and water you can keep your metabolism running and burning fat all the day long. Men should drink four litres and women should drink two litres of water every day. So drink up.

Next I would like to explain the four main categories you should get your foods from. They include: Fat, protein, carbohydrates and Fibre. These are all equally important so in no particular order let’s start off with protein.

Protein is made of amino acids which are what builds muscle. The more muscle you have the more fat your body will burn, so stay with me those of you that are only interested in sculpting and toning. For your body to form muscle you need to consume protein. There are countless foods that contain protein. If you are a meat eater I would suggest low fat, high protein meats that are usually white, unless referring pork. Go with fish, chicken, and turkey.

If you aren’t into meat there are various other foods. Milk contains protein, soy products as well as tofu. Find a yogurt with little carbs, less fat and high protein, usually labelled ‘Greek yogurt’. There is a wide variety of beans, pods and legumes that contain protein.

My last couple choices for protein are by far the best dairy products maybe the best proteins in the category, which are cottage cheese and eggs. Cottage cheese is low in fat and carbs and high in protein and is also slow digesting which is hard to find in a protein. Eggs contain all the complete amino acids and should be added to your diet. They sometimes get a bad rap for their cholesterol which studies have proven to be incorrect. If you are staying away from eggs because of cholesterol concerns eat the egg whites.

Carbohydrates are what fuels you, they gives you energy and make you feel like you’ve eaten something. Stay away from empty carbs that your body does not use. An easy way to remember these are white carbs. A few examples are white rice, white potatoes, and white pasta. They may taste good but won’t benefit your body in a positive way. These white carbs are also known as quick or fast digesting carbs. This is the reason you are hungry a short time after you eat them.

The best choices for complex carbs are dark ones. Complex or slow digesting carbs are brown or wild rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. If you are into breads and pasta go with brown or whole wheat.

Healthy fats are next on the menu. Do everything you can to stay away from trans fats. These fats are used less and less for good reason so make sure you find an alternative if they are in your food selection. Saturated fat is also something you will want to stay away from. Look for polysaturated and mono saturated fats. The best heart healthy fats are your Omega’s 3,6, and 9. Omega 3 is the most important which has been shown to burn fat. It is most commonly found in fish as well as some eggs and flax seed or oil.

Because of fibres growing importance it is found more frequently foods. Usually you would get your fibre from vegetables although beans are also a great source of fibre. If you are getting your fibre from vegetable go with dark green. A couple examples of these are spinach, broccoli and green beans. Apple sauce is another example but I would suggest you don’t skip your vegetables because of the other great properties they contain such as antioxidants. High antioxidant vegetables are usually the bright ones like red or yellow peppers.

I hope this short explanation of nutrition is beneficial for you to start the right way. If you are looking for more information on nutrition I have put together an 8 page booklet more on the basics which includes a sample of a perfect day’s meal, and foods that burn body fat. The booklet is an easy read for the average person just starting out. It doesn’t get very technical and is easy to understand. If you are interested in this product it can be purchased for $19.99 and after payment will be sent out the next day through regular mail or email.

#4: The Complete Package

In the health and fitness world there is something called the overload system. The overload system is pushing your body to do what it is not used to in the four categories I will explain in this article. For your body to change and transform each of the following categories need to be addressed: Nutrition, Cardio, Flexibility and Resistance Training. In this article I will be explain the importance of each.

I believe each of these categories are equally important so in no particular order I will start with resistance training.

Resistance training is breaking down and building muscle, as well as increasing bone density. You can do this by lifting weights, using your body weight, medicine balls or resistant bands. Something important that is not common knowledge is what resistance training does to your metabolism. Studies have found that resistance training keeps your metabolism running (or burning fat) 24-36 hours after your workout. This could be the reason why some people don’t get the results they want by only doing cardio.

Stretching could be the most neglected exercise in the gym. The great thing about stretching is you don’t need equipment to do it and it can be done anywhere. Stretching keeps your body loose and flexible; you can also stretch for strength. Being flexible is important because it will make you less likely to be injured which will prevent you from being in the gym , working out toward your goals. Stretching also helps lactic acid move through your muscles. Lactic acid is that burning sensation you feel at the end of your set, it’s what prevents you from doing another rep and is also what makes you sore the next day.

Cardio vascular exercise is the most important for your heart. This increases you heart rate which gets the blood flowing from your heart to your arteries and back to your heart through your veins. Cardio is most commonly used to burn fat. For a proper cardio session you will need to find your target heart rate using this formula. 220-age X intensity. Intensity can be anywhere from 50-85% of you anerobic threshold. An example of this is as follows. For a 50 year old that wants to exercise at 75% you would plug in the digits 220-50 X 0.75. Getting your target heart rate can be confusing. An easier way to find a target heart rate is to use the machines. Place you hands on a machine that gives you your heart rate. Once you get it to where you are working hard keep it there. I would suggest you keep your training heart rate the same for about a week and slowly increase it the next week. This is a form of progression that I talked about earlier.

Finally we finish with nutrition. I explained in my ‘Nutrition Secret’ how important it is. It will be very hard for you to reach your goals if you don’t watch what you eat. Pay attention to what you put in your body. Your 45 minute cardio session will show little results if you eat a cheese burger after your workout. Nutrition needs to be worked on just as much as your time in the gym. Following my advice on nutrition is a good start.

It’s time to put all the pieces together to get the whole picture. Get started the right way and make sure you include all the important keys I have mentioned to complete your puzzle. Make sure you stretch properly, get your training heart rate and keep it there for your cardio session, add resistance training at least twice a week and eat properly. If you follow these guidelines you will be well on your way to reaching you goals.

#5: Motivation

Motivation is something we all struggle with from time to time. I would like to explain a few points about this subject and add some tips on how to stay motivated to reach your goals.

Goals are very important when it comes to motivation. Goals are what push you to the next level; they keep you moving forward and focused on what you want to accomplish. You need to write down what you want to accomplish. The first thing you write down (yes it must be written down) is a large goal that you want to achieve. This should be realistic to you; if you believe it you can achieve it. You will need to write down a time frame in which you want to achieve this large goal. This goal then needs to be broken down into smaller steps or mini goals along the way. Achieving the smaller goals is key to motivation. They are empowering. When you succeed in reaching these smaller goals you will increase your self esteem and feel better about yourself. Lastly, your goal needs to be measureable. Something that you can actually see you are progressing toward. When you make and achieve smaller goals it will keep you working toward you main goal and what you want to accomplish for your final outcome.

Visualization is something I like to use as a motivational tool. You have to be able to see the outcome. I suggest you find a picture that inspires you. Maybe a picture of the abs you want or the arms you plan on transforming yours into; it could be someone climbing a mountain or someone achieving something you want to achieve. Post this picture somewhere you can see every day. In the mirror where you get ready every morning is a good place. Your picture could be placed in a binder or your schedule book that you check or write in everyday. Another good place is on the fridge; every time you open the fridge this picture will remind you to make a better choice.

Another tip that could help motivate you are clothing you want to fit into. I would suggest you buy that piece of clothing you cannot yet fit in, maybe a smaller dress size. If your goal is to grow and build muscle it could be a sweater you don’t quite fill out. Whatever your goal may be buy some clothing that you want to fit in and hang it somewhere that you will see it every day. On the outside of your closet is a good spot. Every time you get dressed you will see this clothing that will motivate you to stay on track throughout the day.

If you haven’t heard or tried any of these methods I suggest you give them a shot. I have only written down important points that I have found first hand to work by training myself or teaching. Motivation is very important in the path to setting and reaching goals in health and fitness. There is a path or formula to success. If you follow the correct steps they will help you along the way. Find ways that motivate you to keep you moving forward and on the right path.

#6: Failure

The dreaded word failure cousins to self doubt, disappointment and low self esteem to name a few. We have put such a negative connotation on the word it’s hard to think of it as anything but. I’d like to talk about failure in this week’s ‘Secret’ and explain why it isn’t so bad and how you can use it to achieve.

Since we were children we were taught that failure is a ‘bad’ word. We failed because we lost the game, we failed because we got a bad grade, we’ve failed because we let our parents down. The words origin in Latin means untrue or deceived. How did we change the meaning to what we perceive of the word now? I think we have been deceived by being led to believe failure can’t be positive.

In the gym and in life failure gives you a baseline or a starting point. If you don’t fail you won’t know where to build from and you won’t know how far you can go. Everybody has to start somewhere; we need to know where to start and how far we can be pushed if we are going to succeed.

Many times we put a label on 12-15 reps. So your mind thinks your muscles are tired when you reach 12-15 reps, not knowing your body can do more. You fool yourself into thinking you can’t do any more weight or reps or minutes of cardio. That’s why elite professionals hire personal trainers to push them to their optimal fitness level. If you are able to control you mind, you will be able to push past your old failures and make new ones.

Every professional has a skilled trainer behind the scene. Professional athletes, celebrities, even trainers themselves. You get the most out of the last few reps of each set so pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do. To do this you must fail. It is essential to know how far you can go to generate the maximum results, failing to achieve.

Success would not be so great if you haven’t failed. It’s what makes the long journey worthwhile. Failure is why success is what it is. Failure is the reason we feel like a winner, have increased self esteem, and feel a sense of accomplishment. Without failure there would be no success.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.”

-Confucius

Don’t fear failure, embrace it, change your thinking and it won’t be so scary. You knows how far you’ll go.

You are no longer deceived after hearing the truth about failure.

# 7: Changing it up

Everyone goes through a time when motivation is low or you hit a wall in your progress better known as a plateau. There are many things you can do to change it up to keep your interest as well as to keep your body transforming into the way you want it on your way to reaching your goals. I would like to give you some suggestions as to how to keep your body guessing and changing as well as to keep you moving in the right direction.

Let’s start off with changing your program. Depending on your progressions with your current program, it should be changed roughly every 6 weeks. We do this so your body doesn’t get used to what you are doing. To continue to get the results you want you are going to have to change what or the way you are doing things in the gym. Changing your program will shock your muscles into growth. This goes for both cardio and weight lifting. If you a regular lifter I would suggestion you make new exercises and put them in different orders after a 6 week period. If you are new to exercise I would suggest you find a professional to do it for you.

To change the cardio portion of your exercises I suggest changing the cardio equipment you are using (ie. Treadmill to elliptical). If you like the treadmill or are not interested in changing the equipment you are using you could mix in an interval session. An example of this would be walk for a few minutes and then jog for a minute, continue this process for your entire cardio session. If you are running you could sprint for 30 seconds and then run for a minute and go back to a sprint. This is a great way to burn fat.

If you like the program you are using and don’t want to change the exercises you can change the order you are doing them in. Mix them up or start from the end and work back. Most of the time when we lift weights we do the harder exercises first or the exercises that use the bigger muscle groups (chest and back for example); the name for lifting the smaller muscle groups first is called pre-exhaust. This is a great way to shock your muscles into growth.

Reps and time in between sets is something else you can do to change things up. If you are in the 12-15 rep range try picking up some lighter weights and do 15-20 reps. I good way to build muscle is to use heavier weights and lift less reps; 6-8 or 8-10 reps is a good range if your goal is to build muscle. Managing the time in between each exercise is a good way to make a change. Some people like to talk or take extended time in between each exercise, which is perfectly fine but if you wanted to try something new take a minute or 30 seconds and then move on to your next exercise.

Circuit training is another good way to mix it up in the gym and a great way to burn fat. Circuit training can be a couple of different things. You can go to each station with no break in between, for your whole session keeping your heart rate up or you could do some form of cardio in between each exercise.

Lastly consider changing up nutrition. Nutrition is just as important as exercise. Your body adapts and gets used to what you eat when you eat it. A good way to continue to see results is to change what you are eating and when you are eating it. You don’t always have to have eggs in the morning, what’s the problem with having something different for breakfast and having eggs for lunch? I like to have leftovers that are cooked and ready to eat for my first meal, that way I don’t have to wait for my food to be cooked. My next meal would usually be a freshly cooked meal that usually contains eggs. Get creative with what you eat, there are no rules in this game. Try new things, you may end up liking it and adding it to your regular diet.

I hope some of these suggestion will help you on your way to reaching your goals.

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