5 Bad Habits that are Stopping You from reaching your Fitness Goals

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Bad habits are something that everyone has, whether you bite your fingernails, indulge in a little too much partying, impulse shop or have been smoking since you were 16. When it comes to achieving a personal fitness goal, bad habits can really cramp your style. There are a number of different aspects that need to be considered when setting a fitness goal, from the kind of lifestyle you lead to the type of food you eat and what you actually want to achieve from improving your fitness levels. Below are just a few of the bad habits that you may want to think about before embarking on your fitness overhaul.

The Wrong Type of Food

When you set out on a fitness health kick, the first thing people generally focus on is banishing bad foods from their diet. While this is great in theory, it can often be harder to kick your junk food habit than first anticipated. The first thing you need to do is become a little more knowledgeable about food and what types are actually good for you. With fancy labelling and catchy slogans, like “99% fat free”, it can be rather confusing to figure out what’s right for you. Everyone’s individual needs vary, so it is best to talk to a dietician or other health professional.

Smoking

If you currently smoke or are a reformed smoker, you’ll know that this is one nasty habit that is possibly the hardest to break. People can smoke for in excess of 10 or 20 years before they decide to ditch this bad habit to reach their fitness goals, making the addiction even stronger. Years ago, there was only the option of quitting cold turkey, but nowadays smokers can throw this habit aside by using quitting aids, such as gum, patches or even electronic cigarettes. For many smokers, the actual action and socialising aspect of smoking is what they miss, rather than their nicotine fix, and this is where ‘vaping’ comes into play. A number of companies, including BLACKHAWX, have released a range of nicotine and non-nicotine e-cigs, which are better for your overall health and the environment, assisting many reformed smokers into achieving their fitness goals.

Failure to Set Goals

Over the years, many studies have shown that people who set personal goals are more likely to achieve the task at hand. Whether you want to build a better career, focus on your fitness or get rid of clutter around the house, setting short term goals is an important step to reaching your final goal. When it comes to your personal fitness, health or wellbeing, it is of the utmost importance that you always set realistic goals for yourself. Comparing yourself to gym junkies or people who have been committed to maintaining a good fitness levels throughout the entirety of their lives can actually hinder your ability to achieve success. Set short term goals first, such as how many times you aim to exercise per week or which bad habit you are giving up first, in order to pave the road to reaching your own fitness goals.

Partying

We all know that partying is lots of fun and a great way to socialise with friends or meet new people, but it can also prohibit you from reaching your fitness goals. Binge drinking has horrific side effects to one’s health, particularly when combined with sleep deprivation, inhalation of second hand smoke and, of course, hangovers. If you’re serious about reaching your fitness goals, keep the outrageous partying to a minimum – you never know what other fun things you’ll find to do when you’re not hung over all weekend!

Procrastination

This is one major bad habit that is often overlooked when setting out to achieve any sort of goal, whether it is work, fitness or family orientated. Procrastination prevents you from achieving your goals and can actually send you in the complete wrong direction. Goal setting does help to prevent procrastination, but it is also important that you remember to constantly regain focus on what it is you first wished to achieve.

Always remember, setting goals is important for achieving your desired results. Becoming a fitter person doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the things you love, just replacing them for a healthier option. So next time you go to pick up a cigarette, try vaping instead or when you reach for that candy bar, replace it with a healthy bowl of fruit salad.

PAIN TOLERANCE: The Most Underrated Exercise Variable

As yet another year in the new millennium gets underway, it isn’t a secret that scribbled next to ‘Quit smoking’, or ‘Cut back on alcohol intake’, many a resolute soul jotted down earnest promises regarding the acquisition of fitness and health. In other words:

Get ripped.

Get a six-pack.

Pack on ‘x’ amount of lean muscle.

Lose ‘x’ amount of fat.

Complete particular endurance event.

Return to pre-pregnancy body.

Lower blood pressure.

And so on and so forth, et cetera, et cetera.

In fitness terms, an entire year is a long time; definitely sufficient enough to complete a transformation that would make even Voltron blush. However, if the modus operandi is faulty, no amount of time or trendy new exercises and equipment will yield the results you really deserve.

So where do you go for that extra edge? That one X-factor that will separate your killer new routine from the ones that do little more than cause mass boredom and a hopeless staring contest with your anything-but-broken-in running shoes.

What if there was a variable regarding training that most people never considered and ever had the option of seeing listed alongside a workout routine? Not only is this tidbit free to everyone, but also incredibly potent and if learned correctly, can morph any dull exercise into award-winning training and allow an individual to truly succeed with their physical endeavors.

This variable is Pain Tolerance, or, in other words, one’s ability to confront and digest the party platter of discomfort brought about through hard exercise.

Before I go any further, let me clarify that the type of pain in question here is healthy strain derived from proper exercise and NOT joint pain, heart pain, or any other skeletal pain that comes from improper form or poor health and could potentially be dangerous and damaging. Regardless, this distress can take many forms, from a quad-searing burnout on the leg extension to a chest-annihilating giant set on the bench press; even a screaming in the lungs from a personal best at running the mile.

There is a quote that gets tossed around a lot in cycling that simply goes, “To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain.” We may not all be cyclists or even have the slightest inclination to don a skin-tight cycling kit and ride up a few mountains, yet that is the truly great thing about pain tolerance: it applies to everything physical.

Sure, if someone has a great pain tolerance yet goes into the gym and trains like a drunken Richard Simmons, he/she is not going to automatically be on the road to reaching true results, yet when that person does in fact learn to execute their workouts with the precision of science-based routines, it is safe to say they will surpass another doing the same routines due to the fact that they have taught their mind to turn the volume down on that pesky voice in the back of your head screams, “QUIT!”

Pain is tied into working out at the most basic levels. It truly is a physiological variable, although a more scholarly exercise physiologist or personal trainer may use language that disguises pain with smug terms such as ‘lactic acid buildup’, or ’100% VO2 max’ – AKA, “THIS IS BRUTAL!”

Let’s think about some real life exercise situations. When you walk into the weight room and are looking to start off with some bicep training, you may head over to a weight rack, pick up a barbell, then begin doing focused curls. The muscle fibers in your biceps will soon contract and relax in unison with each exertion and your mind perceives this strain as a form of pain.

It hurts, burns, whatever, the main point is that when attempting many exercises, pain is going to a one of the first and most unruly people knocking at the door of your workout party with one goal – crashing it. One of the main things that sets a successful, results-based exerciser apart from one who flounders aloofly and never loses the weight or gets the strength/muscle, is what he/she does when the pain enters the room.

Are you the type of person who begins the repetitions yet drops the barbell and curses, “Damn, that is really painful, let me grab a lighter weight or cut back a few reps”, or do you confront the pain head on and say, “YEAH? SO WHAT? I’m getting this fitness no matter how much you scream and complain,” and proceed to push pain to the side and break through its limitations?

We’ve all seen shows like the Biggest Loser, where a frustrated trainer watches as client after client easily bails on a particular workout and claims they simply can’t go on. When you see something like that occurring, truly analyze what that person is basically saying: it is clear as day that they are not familiar with the physical pain needed to really make results and this unfamiliarity is too shocking for their system to cope with, causing the mind the give up.

The thing is, that is OK! It doesn’t make them a bad or lazy person, it is just that their previous way of life and absence of physicality has left them with a currently very poor ability to digest the stress and pain tied to hard training and it will take some time before they can speak that language.

It is similar to a situation where a shredded workout guru with the utmost masochistic prowess suddenly makes a resolution to become versed in Russian History, yet on their first lesson with the professor, flounders under the heavy course load and cries out at the amount of focused, relentless studying needed to master the material. It isn’t that they will never be able to give a brilliant oration on Rasputin and the Tsars, it’s just that most human beings need time to adjust to the stresses necessary for seriously excelling above the norm.

So how does one gauge his/her pain tolerance? You probably already have a good concept of this, yet here are two great ways to get a feel for it:

Leg extensions: (Even better if done at the end of leg day). Set the weight to about 50% of your one rep max and begin doing focused, squeezing-at-the-top reps, and continue this until that familiar discomfort starts growing out of your quads and attempting to smack your motivation around.

Preacher curls: Grab a similarly graded weight and begin doing concentrated reps. Preacher curls and leg extensions are great ways to gauge pain tolerance because they are completed in a fixed motion and do not require any real form. For instance, if two people were doing squats, there would be a whole myriad of factors that may throw off the delegation of work to the muscles.

With these exercises, and many others like it, you can easily become familiar with what true physical and mental exercise strain feels like, and acclimating yourself to such an extreme will do wonders for every other motion you attempt to do work with.

There have been countless cases of athletes who, according to high-tech lab tests and pages of results, shouldn’t have outperformed their counterparts yet did so because there is no number or test that can quantify a humans ability to dig deep and really desire something.

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” -Vince Lombardi.

That’s it for now. Remember, when trying to fulfill your fitness goals this year, try taking a little detour from browsing the newest workouts or equipment and instead focus on being comfortable with the uncomfortable – your workouts will thank you.

Avoid Illness In Your Golden Years By Being Fit In Middle Age


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Being fit in middle age may not ad years to your life, however, fitness can help you to avoid chronic illness as you age.

Better quality of life, less time spent treating and healing from illness and time to enjoy your old age are the perks of being in great shape now.

Previous studies have shown that people who are more physically fit have a lower risk of dying early than those who aren’t as in shape, but the current analysis, led by Dr. Jarrett Berry of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, is the first to expose a connection with chronic diseases. Berry and his colleagues compared data on fitness levels of 18,670 healthy men and women in their 40s and 50s to Medicare claims for chronic disease treatments a couple of decades later, when the participants became eligible for coverage after age 65. Each of the volunteers performed a treadmill test, during which the researchers measured the length of time they exercised to exhaustion as an indicator of their fitness. For every one-unit improvement in fitness, measured as metabolic equivalents, the volunteers enjoyed a 20% drop in the incidence of the eight conditions the scientists tracked.

Exercising Through The Pain

We’ve all heard,“No pain, no gain”.

But that technique will do you no good if you are suffering from an injury.

Pushing too hard when you’re already hurting can cost you further injury.

However, aches and pains are no excuse to cut out exercise altogether—you just have to be smart about it.

To help you pick a safe—but satisfying—workout when you’re injured, Kimberly Safman, MD, board certified physiatrist at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, Calif.,can help you choose the right move for you.

Are you in a fitness slump?

Setting and achieving goals can change your mindset and get you out of that funk. Check out this article from Men’s Fitness:

For those of us who don’t pump iron to make our living, going to the gym might feel like a chore. But stick with it and your sentiment might change, according to a new Rutgers University study.

Researchers asked students to keep a difficult goal (like going to the gym five times a week or quitting the tube) for 40 days, and found that those who were successful at maintaining their goals actually ended up liking the activity more—even if they didn’t enjoy it initially. Why?

“If a person performs a behavior regularly and for long enough, the behavior becomes part of the person’s self-identity or self-concept,” speculates study author Alison Philips, Ph.D. “For example, if I made a goal to start running and succeeded, I’d begin to see myself as a runner.”

This just reinforces the notion that attitude is everything. But you can change your attitudes by developing habits. This then makes you feel better about what you’re doing and makes it easier to plow ahead.

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