Monday, November 12, 2018

7 Ways To Know If Your Fitness Plan Is Working...

The human body is complex.

Bodily changes occur often in subtle ways. Sometimes it is hard to notice especially if you are looking one-dimensionally at your fitness progress.

One thing is for sure though when we do train with focus we feel, function and perform differently, but we often struggle to pinpoint how this occurs.

Before real weight release occurs signs of improvement start showing up insistently.

From my point of view at RHF, being a skilled fitness pro & coach is kind of like being a skilled hunting guide. Being a fitness enthusiast trying to change his/her body can be like an explorer in a new land...

Small signs of progress lead to success.

You must learn ...
  • How to recognize them (if you can track it you can improve it)
  • How to track them for yourself (if you seek change)
  • How to celebrate them with your support team (you have one right?)
Here are 7 ways to know if your fitness plan is working, most of which are better indicators than your body weight:

1. You truly feel satisfied after workouts in both muscle and brain.  

 Having a sense of accomplishment is a huge mental boost especially if you can get through a grueling sweat session. Nothing of value comes without effort and effort and performance drive success. Hustle makes muscle. Making muscle feels good.

What progress looks like:

You show up to your scheduled sweat sessions. It is a breeze to schedule your workouts each week.

2. You have more energy.   

A great high intensity (HIT) workout can boost your energy for quite some time after your workout. What you give your workout gives you back at an increase if done properly (includes proper nutrition and rest).

What progress looks like:
No snooze button. You can even wake up before your alarm goes off. Your eyes are actually open and you feel happy. Five shots of espresso not needed or desired either.  

A good fitness plan gives you lasting energy; constant, steady, all-day energy rather than a brief buzz and a crash. If you get it right, you will start experiencing this over time. Maybe even before the scale needle starts to move.

3. You sleep sound and recover quick. 

Many people struggle with sound sleep. When you add the fitness element you have to add struggling with proper rest and recovery. Sometimes, people fail to see how tired and sleep-deprived they actually are (4-6 hours of fitful flailing each night is their normal and it has been for a while now).

What progress looks like:

Winding down an hour before bedtime is no problem. You follow your sleep ritual and conk out easy. In short, your body is no longer in an always-on-battle-stations-go state of chemical panic and metabolic noise.

Remember, if you want to change your body and improve your health, sleeping consistently well is a must!

4. Your clothes fit different.

You know those pants that you have been trying to get back into? Now is the time to pull them down from the top of the bedroom door and try them on. Remember, the pair that almost never fits unless you are massively dehydrated, wrapped fully in plastic, and holding your breath all at the same time? They most likely fit better than the suck-it-in-and-suffer approach you may have been using for the last several weeks (hopefully not years).

Heck, maybe you can pull out something else. How about that shirt or sweater that normally drapes over you like a shower curtain? See how that fits!

You may find that some of those clothes you wish to forget because with all that new muscle mass you can start to actually show off a little. Look good feel good yah? Psychologists call this enclothed cognition.

What progress looks like:

When we build lean mass, we can get heavier in some areas, but smaller overall. Muscle and bone are denser than body fat. So, it is not uncommon at all for you to put on some weight initially when you jump on a program that actually promotes muscle gain, increased bone density and fat loss all at the same time. RHF offers such programs.

Muscle and bone are significantly heavier than fat by volume (estimated at 20 and 30 percent respectively).  

What this also means is that your fitness plan (and nutrition) can help you look and function better without leading to much initial weight loss (proper goal setting is key here too).

Side note:

Bone is even denser than muscle and is composed of complex combinations of heavy minerals like calcium and phosphorus, that provide strength, flexibility, and skeletal/movement support. We put a lot of stress on bones. Bones also contain a significant amount of protein (mostly collagen-type).

On the other hand, fat tissue, is loosely composed of adipocytes, cells that contain light, fluffy lipid molecules (mainly triglycerides). Unlike bone and muscle mass, fat tissue provides seemingly unlimited storage all over the body, so it can continue to grow when we over-eat (among other factors).

Males may see:
  • Broader shoulders
  • Fuller chest
  • Muscular and functional glutes (hockey ass)
  • Waist shrinkage
Females may see:
  • Your scale weight goes up, but your clothing size goes down
  • Waist shrinkage
  • Definition in your arms and legs (if you are training legs LOL)
  • You ace your bone density scan

5. Your mood is stable and positive.
Is your secret nickname Bad Luck Billy or Sour Sally? Does it physically hurt you to smile? You may not be yourself when you skip your sweat sessions! You are depriving your body of endorphins, denying your muscles of much needed release from sedentary build up, as well as bypassing a strong sense of accomplishment! Remember, hustle makes muscle and muscle makes for a happy mood.

What progress looks like:
Improving our mental and emotional outlook with exercise can show up in many surprising ways. In part, these changes come from the experience and sense of accomplishment from changing habits, more specifically replacing bad habits with good habits (which usually takes about 2 months). When we try something and succeed, we get a little jolt of inspiration (internal motivation) that encourages us to keep going.

Here are some of the things RHF'ers have discovered after consistently improving their fitness (and nutrition habits):
"I feel...
  • "like I have greater confidence."
  • "that positive change is possible."
  • "More mindful about my choices."
  • "I have more applicable knowledge."
  • "I am clearer about my goals and know how to get there."
  • "like I walk with good posture."
  • "mentally on it, clear-headed and less cloudy."
  • "happier and positive."
  • "open to learning more"
  • "motivated and inspired"
6. You have greater strength and endurance.
When you first start your fitness overhaul, workouts might feel a bit off. 
You may feel weak, slow, and uncoordinated. You may be embarrassed to pick up light dumbbells. Surely you are sore...seemingly forever.

Then it occurs recover quicker. You are full of energy and clear headed. You stare down the heavier dumbbells like a snake on its prey.

What progress looks like:
  • Improved range of motion. A month ago, you failed at full squats - you could only do half squats. You can now grab your laundry with ease, get off the toilet quickly, and squat down to pick up a baby with no hesitation! Next month, you might take on some kid at basketball or field a ball at softball practice like Derek Jeter.
  • Muscle soreness is short-lived. We touched on this above, but not in detail. You recover quicker from the micro-damage (tiny tears) of intense workouts and new moves. The rebuilding and repair process is a good thing- it is how we get stronger and fitter. In the early stages it hurts from inflammation, stiffness and swelling from a fluid rush to heal damaged muscles. As progression occurs inflammation decreases and the repair process accelerates with the help of nutrition uptake
  • Total workout output improves. Simply put you can do more, more often. Maybe you can bike longer, swim farther, lift heavier weights longer. A proper fitness plan has improved both your energy and recovery.
  • Overall recovery is better. In conjunction with the proper nutrition plan you are pressure testing your body to get stronger and faster. Your cells are maximizing oxygen uptake, dumping metabolic waste, and communicating well.

7. Fitness feels more like a lifestyle than a fad.
"Fads" are a chore. They are another boring and complicated thing to add to the "to do" list that you cannot wait to get rid of (by the way you should actually schedule your priorities...get them off your "to do" list).  

Anything that seems temporary implies we can quit at some point right? When you quit guess what? You start back over again at ground zero! All those gains are gone and the compound effect evaporates. You are back to skipping workouts, eating too many processed foods which can lead to never-ending hunger, fitness frustration, and probably weight gain.  

I have said this so many times: "the best way to get into shape is to never get out."  

What progress looks like:
Progress here happens when you are just living in a nice, natural daily rhythm with no pressure (internal). You feel in the flow. Training and eating well stops being "a thing" and just starts being your daily life...a lifestyle
  • You naturally gravitate toward daily workouts. Scheduling daily workouts is a breeze and non-negotiable. 
  • You always have a plan. Whether it be prepping meals in advance, looking for challenges, or developing strategies for staying on track you have a plan, but are ready to bend when necessary all while continuing forward. No "all or nothing" and no absolutes.
  • You never "mess up" anymore. You still cheat with purpose, but you not only earn your cheat meals and time off from training, you require it. Cheating is not considered bad or guilt-inducing, but rather part of the process and the by-product of hard work and proper planning. Cheat then get back on the horse. No big deal.
This is a natural and normal consequence of training and eating in a sensible and sane way that supports your lifestyle. These are signs of progress, regardless of what the scale shows.

What to do next...some tips from RHF

Stop being a slave to the scale! Success is so much more than that! Chase the work!

Here are some ways to change:
  • Add, never subtract. If you are in a "diet mentality," each day feels like a new battle to avoid the "bad foods." Flip that thought. Never avoid junk food, prepackaged meals, or dessert. Focus on just adding so much healthy stuff like water, lean protein, fresh fruit and vegetables. If you eat more healthy food there will be less room and desire left over for junky, low-grade food. Always look for what you gain rather than what you lose. Focus on objectives such as: muscle, strength, confidence, energy, and sanity. Ask yourself: "what brings me to my objectives?"

  • Measure and celebrate your progress. Look for signs of progress everywhere. Every victory counts, no matter how small. Track all of them. How do your clothes fit? Did you measure your body? Have you done a body fat test? Celebrate them!

  • Small things matter. Make mini-goals (weekly) or nano-goals (daily), but make them action-oriented. Do whatever you need to do to stay on track and keep your spirits up. Each time you hit those goals, reward yourself in a healthy way.

Summary: 7 Ways To Know If Your Fitness Plan Is Working
  • You are satisfied after a workout.
  • You have more energy.
  • You sleep sound.
  • You clothes fit different.
  • You have a better mood.
  • Your strength and conditioning is improved.
  • Fitness is now a lifestyle not a chore (or fad).

If you like the material we have sent you we only ask that you forward it to your friends! Everyone can benefit from education. Many more will benefit even greater if they put education into action!