In pursuit of fitness

Shruti Jahagirdar, Jan 5 2018, 21:37 IST
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Only one form of exercise will not improve all aspects of fitness.

December is a magical month. Why? Because, although most of us in India celebrate a New Year in March or April, it is only in December that we find the motivation to make a new year resolution! While the resolution is made in December, January is the month of execution.

All of us have made resolutions and tried our best to stick to them. However, here's what ends up happening most often than not! Let's take a look at the life span of a fitness resolution:

January to March - Warrior phase
In this phase, we do all that it takes to become fit. Thanks to the high levels of motivation, most of us see some amount of success in this phase.

April to June - Over-trained & exhausted
This is the zero-activity phase. Having over invested ourselves in the first quarter, we don't have the same level of motivation anymore.

July to September - Shame!
Having not worked out in the last three months, panic sets in. We struggle to gain momentum again and what's more, the annual gym membership is also nearly wasted!

October to December - YOLO! (You only live once)
These are the months when your fitness resolutions don't feel achievable anymore. The mind declares December as the legitimate fun month and throws the shame out of the window. And just like that, it is time to make the same resolution once again and HOPE for better!

So, what can we do differently this year to make that story sound better? Let's understand some basic concepts first and call these the 'tools of success'.

1 Understand what your desired fitness goal means for your body. Learn to ask yourself a few questions:

What does reducing weight mean?

What does body-building mean?

What is my body actually going through when I am losing weight or building a body?

For example, if you want to get leaner, know that it means you need to reduce fat from your body while maintaining existing muscle mass. Fat loss is not the same as weight loss.

2 When you join a gym, go in for personal training or nutrition advice from experts, ask them some important questions:

Is he or she a certified nutritionist or personal trainer?

Where did they get their certification from?

Remember that most fitness and nutrition certificate courses are only valid for two years and require revalidation. When you ask these questions, the other person realises that you are 'an aware client' and he or she is more likely to be attentive and involved in training or advising you.

3 Ask 'why' often and without feeling shy until you understand what you are doing. When you have answers to your questions, you are more likely to stick to your fitness plan, as you understand it better.

4 Learn to measure your fitness by tracking a few things regularly. Go beyond weight as a measure of fitness. Here are a few routine blood tests you should be doing at least once a year:

Lipid profile test will give you a breakdown of your cholesterol levels and triglyceride, which is a measure of the fat cells in your body.

HbA1c or glycated haemoglobin is a three-month average of your blood glucose level and a robust indicator to measure if you are pre-diabetic/diabetic. This test is as important as fasting/post fasting blood glucose tests.

* Thyroid test

* Haemoglobin levels

* Check the level of D3 and Vitamin B12

Your fitness focus for 2018

* Discipline outlives motivation: Motivation is like the first few months of a new relationship, highly exciting but doesn't last long! However, motivation is important to make a start. After that, what helps you stick to a workout regime, is a realistic and well-structured workout plan.

* Fat loss not weight loss: These days, many gyms offer fat percent measurement, so start by measuring your fat percent and measure your success by inch loss not weight loss. The general guideline for healthy fat percent range is 5-15% for men and 8-20% for women. DEXA scanning is the most accurate method of fat percent measurement and is available in hospitals where bone density tests are done.

* Measure your daily protein intake: Protein is a key nutrient required by our body to preserve muscle mass, and thus provides strength and tones our body. It is also required by our body in the synthesis of our hormones. The typical Indian daily diet doesn't include enough of first-class sources of protein like milk, paneer, cheese, curd, eggs, seafood and meat. Hence, we need to be extra careful in making sure we consume enough protein. Around 0.8 gm/kg of body weight per day is the daily recommended intake as per the Food and Nutrition Board of India.

* Mix up your workouts: Include cardio, strength training, agility, flexibility, balancing drills etc. to variety. Only one form of exercise will not improve all aspects of fitness.

* Say no to gadgets after 10.30 pm: Stove away your cellphones, laptops and all other gadgets after 10.30 pm and just sleep. Sleep is crucial for the successful outcome of your exercise and nutrition programmes.

* Set yourself a challenge: Aim to do something that you will be really proud of achieving. For example, running a 5-km or 10-km race or doing 20 good push-ups or lifting 100 kilos weight in the gym. There is nothing more rewarding than challenging yourself both mentally and physically and having your body work as one unit to let you do something you never thought you could do!

That said, I am certain that your fitness resolution for 2018 will be a success!

(The author is founder & CEO, Halomi Fitness)

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