It’s easy to assume health and wellness comes “easy” to us fitness professionals when you’re usually only seeing the sliver of highlight reels. But let’s get real here. Reaching any level of excellence and high performance requires commitment, self-awareness, and plenty of growth!
My journey to becoming the Health Coach and Nutritional Strategist that I am today began with trials and errors, bumps, and awkward turns. I’m sharing a handful of the fitness faux pas I made so you can take the fast track to achieving YOUR fitness goals!
When we choose to honor the struggle, we give ourself permission to make those mistakes and get stronger from them as we press on.
I only did isolation work.
In the beginning, my workouts consisted of trick-or-treating around every single weight machine the gym had to offer. I’d rarely pick up a dumbbell and I wouldn’t dare step onto that mean looking squat rack where I might risk collapsing beneath an overloaded barbell. Talk about embarrassing!
The truth was that I really didn’t know any better. When you’re just starting out, weight machines can be a helpful tool to kickstart your confidence as you build in the habit of exercising. If you’re looking for sustainable results, though, you’ll gain far more benefit from a training program made up of more free-weighted and compound exercises that work your entire body.
What most people don’t know is that weight machines are predominantly designed for body builders looking to grow specific muscle groups, which makes isolation work ideal.
When I switched to more integrative movements like the infamous pull-up, deadlifts, and push-ups, I challenged both my mind and body, which helped me burn more fat while adding muscle! #WIN
I thought more always meant better.
Instead of spending time contemplating the quality of my training program, I wasted hours away at the gym parading around machine after machine which became extremely time consuming.
I used to think the more reps, sets, and hours I put in at the gym had to equal more progress…right? Negative. At the time, I was ignorant to the importance of delicately balancing the ultimate trio: training, nutrition, and recovery.
I’d go for weeks without taking a rest day and wear it as a badge of honor. Little did I realize downplaying my recovery was actually hindering my performance and preventing me from reaching the next level of my aesthetic goals.
Later, I learned that with strategic programming of loaded and unloaded training, along with mobility, and a self-care routine – I could feel more energized, in control of my stress levels, and my body responded, looking and feeling better than ever. All with essentially less effort!
I was scared of lifting heavy.
Did you ever worry that if you started lifting anything but the baby weights you’d get bulky? Join the club! I didn’t want to look like a man and lose my feminine shape, but I also wanted to sculpt, tone, and strengthen.
After educating myself and easing my way up to heavier weights, I learned that the bulkiness many of us fear is not actually a result of picking up the weight. Often, people get bulky, or become overweight, when they simply overeat an excess of poor quality foods. So let’s not get it twisted!
Lifting weights is hands-down one of the best things you can do for your body, especially as you age. You not only provide your bones with more support, you also gear up your body to be a fat-burning machine as you continue to add more lean muscle to boost your metabolism function.
I didn’t explore pain or discomfort
At some point in our fitness journey, we will most likely experience some type of pain or discomfort. It’s unfortunate, but usually (hopefully!) it’s a brief moment that passes, and here are some suggestions to help you work through it.
Rather than avoiding and ignoring pains you notice, use them as a compass to navigate your attention. When we feel pain, it can serve as an invitation to balance our natural asymmetries. We can relieve our pain and improve by adjusting our training program accordingly. For example, if you experience chronic pain on one side of your back, you can work on more single-leg movements like lunges to strengthen both sides.
You can also use pain to learn about where you may need to correct your technique and exercise form. When I would feel shoulder pain after my arm days, I wouldn’t take the time to understand which exercises could be making it worse. Now, I know to use trigger point therapy and mobility as healing tools.
And if you’re feeling pain outside of the gym, this could be a great opportunity to reflect on how your daily activities could be optimized so you can feel your best! Consider how often you’re sitting and your body position while working or using your cell phone and computer. Just by improving your posture can help painful symptoms subside.
If you take anything away from my Fitness Faux Pas, let it be a reminder to first, give yourself some grace when you’re feeling stuck or frustrated. Second, consider quality of your output and not just quantity. And finally, be courageous enough to embark on some self-discovery so that you can continue upping your game and reaching your biggest goals!