It’s an important question that most gym-goers want to know, “What should I be doing when I’m not at the gym or seeing my trainer?” If you truly want to make big change in your health or even just maintain an overall healthy lifestyle, it’s important to take a well-rounded approach. Hitting the gym hard 3-4 times a week is awesome. But if you’re counterbalancing that with 8-hour television benges and ice cream, it might be time to reevaluate your goals and how to reach them. Here’s the inside scoop on what you should be focusing on outside of the gym.
It’s About a Lifestyle
Any good trainer wants their clients to be successful in all aspects of leading a healthy and fit life. Whether you meet a trainer at the gym for your sweat sessions or pump iron by yourself, you’ll want to be sure that your lifestyle outside of the gym meshes with the amazing things you accomplish while there. A healthy lifestyle requires more than just frequent gym visits. You need a quality diet that feeds your body appropriately for the demand you place on it. You need to remain active and avoid a sedentary lifestyle at work or at home. Finally, you need rest. It’s a balance of these three things in combination with your intense gym workouts that will keep you looking, feeling, and generally being your very best.
When it comes to leading an active and healthy lifestyle, your nutrition plays a huge role. Generally, you want to focus on thinking of food as fuel for your body. The proper fuel for your body is individualized to the amount and type of activity you participate in. For example, long distance runners need different fuel than bodybuilders. However, there are some nutrition basics that anyone can follow to ensure they are getting a balanced and healthful diet. Try focusing on these simple nutrition tips to keep you on track outside of the gym.
Find Your Macro Balance:
Everyone and every body is different. The recommended ranges for consuming carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are wide for this reason. Your goal should be to find the balance that helps you reach your fitness goals and makes you feel your best. Know that if you lead an exceptionally active lifestyle, consuming ample carbohydrates is important. Muscle building undoubtedly requires more protein consumption, and we all should be eating quality fat sources to keep our bodies happy. If you shoot for your general macro goals each day, you’ll likely be naturally consuming a much more balanced and healthful diet that satisfies both your body’s needs and your stomach’s desires!
Avoid Added Sugars
Throughout the years we’ve been made to believe that fat is bad for us while food companies load their food products full of addictive sugar. One of the fastest ways you can see a decline in human health is to increase sugar consumption and decrease activity. The important thing to remember when it comes to added sugar is moderation. Small doses of sugary treats are just fine. However, consistently eating sweets or, perhaps worse, sneaky foods with hidden added sugars can prevent you from reaching your health and wellness goals.
The Workout Myth
If you remember nothing else, remember this: You cannot outworkout a poor diet. Too often we fall victim to the concept of eating poorly now, burning it off later. It just doesn’t work that way unfortunately. The average person can’t workout long enough or hard enough to actually make up for first consuming calorically dense, nutritionally poor foods and then burn enough to create a caloric deficit on top of that. As previously mentioned, the best approach to your diet is one that views your food as fuel for your body. Feed your body what it needs to do what you want it to do at the gym.
Staying active while away from the gym is incredibly important. Not only will this help reduce soreness from intense workouts, but will also help you reach your fitness goals more quickly. Remember, a sedentary lifestyle is the enemy of fitness.
It can be difficult to stay active if you have a desk job but even activities like walking, gardening, or playing a low impact sport are perfect for in between workouts. Try taking the stairs, parking further away, walking to a lunch spot, or even standing and stretching at your desk to keep your muscles active throughout the day.
This may sound like the opposite of the last recommendation, but they truly work hand-in-hand. It is during rest times that the body actually repairs and improves itself from strenuous activities like intense workouts. If you go too hard all the time, you’ll never actually reap the benefit of your hard work. Allowing your body the time to recuperate and recover will put you on the path to meeting your goals more quickly than an over-intense regimen will.
That being said, activity and rest should work together. A “rest” day does not mean a sedentary day. Walking, stretching, bike riding, or any activity that is not considered high intensity can be done on rest days to help your body recover smoothly.
The other component to purposeful rest involves your sleep. The most recovery work is done during those vital hours when the body is fully shut down. If you truly want to see results from your hard work, focus on getting ample sleep. Shut off devices a little earlier, meditate or stretch before bed, and give yourself plenty of time to sleep a full night before your morning alarm.
If you’re starting a new intense fitness regimen, you’ll want to make sure that your gym workouts aren’t the only thing working in your favor to help you reach your goals. Every aspect of your life can help your fitness in some way. Focusing on your nutrition, activity level, and rest while you’re away from the gym will boost your potential for becoming the healthiest version of yourself.