We all want that perfect body, don’t we? Publicly we might state how we’re fine with how we look, but, secretly, we want to look like one of those actors or actresses floating down a red carpet looking spectacular. OK, maybe that’s just me … still, we have a tendency when we think about our overall fitness plan to keep piling on more items to do. It’s time to stop! Here’s some stuff you don’t need to bother with ever again.
Sign up for a gym membership. If you’ve got a health club membership and use it regularly, that’s great! Enjoy your workouts and the gym atmosphere. If you feel like you “should” join somewhere because that’s the only way you’ll ever “get fit,” stop right now. Focus on workouts you can do from home and don’t add the extra hurdle of having to get in your car and drive, cuz you know what? You probably won’t.
I must have salad for lunch every day. You need to aim for between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The closer to nine you get, the better, but that doesn’t mean you’re beholden to salad for the rest of your life. Add some veggies at breakfast (think a veggie omelet with egg whites), grab fruit for snacks, and think of lunch and dinner as a lean protein with a double side of vegetables. There’s no need to add a starch.
I will only do interval training. Interval training is having a renaissance right now. Under the names of Tabata or HIIT among others, the idea is to work ridiculously hard for a brief amount of time, almost to the point of puking, and then ease off briefly only to recover and repeat. These are intense workouts and studies have shown them to be pretty effective, but they aren’t the be all/end all. Easier paced workouts are great too and can give your body a chance to recover from the more intense interval training. That means less likelihood of injury and more joy when you move your body.
I will purge all carbs from my diet. Gawd, I hate this one! First of all, fruits and veggies are carbs and they’re perfectly healthy for you. So maybe you’re saying, “Lisa, I mean starches; I’ll remove all starches from my diet.” Well, that’s not necessary either. A few servings of whole grains is fine. If you’re gluten free, obviously you’ll need to work around wheat, but the USDA recommendations allow for up to six servings a day. I’d push that back a bit and say two to four. Just make sure you’re actually getting the serving size right (a bagel for instance can be as many as six to eight servings!) and always, always choose whole grains.
Subscribe to a fitness magazine. I read them all the time, mostly to stay on top of what people in my industry are saying, and also to get blog post ideas. But fitness magazines pretty much only show perfect bodies. Or they have that one section where they take an overweight gal, give her thousands of dollars in trainers, gym memberships, nutritionists, and exercise clothes, and we get to watch her gradual weight loss over six months. Meh. Fitness magazines encourage you to buy things you don’t need (fitness gadgets and/or pricey yoga outfits) or they just make you depressed from looking at air-brushed, ab-sculpted models (they don’t look like that either!). What’s the point? Skip the subscription and treat yourself to a juicy, delicious novel instead.
Stretch before your workout. Don’t! There are a burgeoning number of studies that debunk this fitness myth. It’s important to warm up by starting out slow and gradually increasing the intensity of the workout. But you shouldn’t stretch muscles that are cold; it could actually cause an injury. I’d love it, though, if you added a great stretch routine at the end of your workout. This will help prevent muscle soreness and keep your joints limber.
What fitness to-dos should you cross off your list? I’d love to hear them.