I’ve been a member of a gym in various incarnations for much of my life. This doesn’t, however, mean that I always get there. Much of the time, my gym fees are more of a donation than an investment in my health.
There have been exceptions. I undertook an 8 week Body Transformation programme at a previous facility, with great success. I got down to the weight and size I desired, my energy levels were great, I was fit and healthy. I spent so much time at the gym that Google thought that was where I worked!
But then, as I’ve already mentioned, my life went a bit pear shaped and exercise took a back seat to working, drinking and eating too much, and feeling a bit sorry for myself.
With my change in work life, so came a change to the amount of time and effort I was able to put into my fitness. I rejoined a gym closer to home. We’ve moved to a neighbourhood close to the water, so I walk as much as possible around our stunning waterfront.
The major shift has been paying a trainer to work with me once a week. Financially, it’s not a small investment, but I am seeing the results 2 months in. She’s given me valuable advice on exercise and tweaks to my diet (more on that later), works me harder than I would work myself, and gives me someone to be accountable to. She takes my measurements once every two weeks, which keeps me on track, especially as I see the numbers coming down.
These are the main things I’ve learned:
- How much you weigh is less important than your body measurements (waist, hips,
thighs, etc) and fat percentage. Muscle weighs more than fat by mass, so as muscle builds, you may find that your weight stays the same, while all other measurements reduce. As an example, over the past 2 months, I’ve reduced my overall measurements by 5% on average (-24cm total body), my body fat by 9% (-5mm total body), but my weight has only reduced by 1%.
- Building muscle is important for increasing your metabolism and burning fat. The higher our muscle percentage, the more fuel our body needs, so the more fat it burns. Hence increased metabolism.
- As a woman, maintaining muscle mass is important to maintain healthy bone density and prevent osteoporosis. Exercises that build muscle also build bones.
- Understanding your heart rate is important to burning fat. If your heart rate is too high throughout the workout, you run the risk of moving into anaerobic zone, where your body will find other energy sources to burn than fat (I can always tell when this happens – my sweat smells like ammonia!!).
- My workouts finish with 10-15 minutes of HIIT. This is incredibly hard, especially when I’ve already been through an hour of resistance work! However, the benefits outweigh the pain. The idea is to ramp your heartrate up to maximum for a short period of time, followed by a recovery period. This results in your body continuing to burn fat for 24 hours after your workout.
- Being outside is good for my overall health. Although I try to get my heartrate up to an optimal fat burning level when I walk, the reality is walking outside is as much about taking time to think, to breathe and to enjoy nature as it is to get fit. It’s all about the mind/body balance.