The 4 Most Important Questions Before Starting to Strength Train

The 4 Most Important Questions Before Starting to Strength Train

Applying a shotgun approach to your workout program is setting yourself up for shortcomings with your health and wellness goals. 

Strength training isn’t rocket science, but it does require a little bit of strategy. In fact, any endeavor that you do in life will require attention to critical tasks before embarking upon that goal.

Strength training can pay immediate dividends in your life, but only if you appropriately schedule the work to be done in accordance to your specific lifestyle.

Here are the four most important questions before starting to strength train. These questions will improve your chances of successfully creating a body you love while living a lifestyle that you love.

1.What do I want?

Whether it’s a business goal, relationship, creative endeavor, and especially your fitness—if you don’t take the time to decide what it is that you exactly want, you’ll be given the leftovers.

Start with your end goal?

An end goal allows you to define an outcome that you’re unwilling to compromise on. Sometimes we’ll get blocked on our path or become tempted onto a path that doesn’t fit our end goal but may provide short term gratification.

Start the process by asking yourself “what does healthy and fit look like to me—not what I think it’s supposed to look like?”

This first step is crucial because this allows you to flesh out what you truly want out of health and fitness. Often times, we set goals that are not ours but instead are versions of others goals or what I like to call “expectation goals”—goals that we think we’re supposed to accomplish or want, even if it isn’t what we exactly want.

Common examples of these types of goals are wanting to have a white picket fence with a family, wanting to retire early, thinking college is the only way to become successful, thinking a 100k salary equates to happiness, and so forth.

Maybe healthy and being fit isn’t six-pack abs, bulging biceps, super toned legs, or herculean strength. But instead, healthy and fit is merely something that helps improve your general lifestyle factors (blood pressure & other metrics), helps you run around with your kids, helps you fit into your favorite dress or outfit, provides you with the confidence to give that presentation or ask that dream girl out.

Having this end goal in mind allows you to stay on the road and not be tempted down the road of short-term immediate gratification.

2.Why do I want it?

I can easily admit that the majority of times, I don’t feel like working out.

A myriad of excuses pop up in my head such as “I don’t have time to go to the gym”, “I have a deadline with this article that I need to finish”, and “I’m too tired” to name a few.

If I relied on motivation and willpower to get me to the gym, I would be a poor advocate for health and wellness. If I don’t rely on motivation, then how can I stay consistent with my strength training?

Easy.

I know why I want it.

It’s not that I want strength training, it’s that what I want is achieved through strength training. For me, I want improved creativity, great mental health, to lead others by example, improve my longevity while justifying my weekly nourishment of tacos, tamales, and empanadas.

This all happens because I have a why to what I’m doing. 

Just as superheroes have a why to their mission and artists create for a deep intrinsic reason—it’s imperative that you develop a deeply rooted why to help you get to the gym on a consistent basis.

the-trinity
Think like a superhero when it comes to your “why”.

 

A why is powerful. It’s the engine that keeps you going. It’s the tool that helps you when motivation or temptation is there tapping you on the shoulder encouraging you to take an off day.

Getting to your why gives you purpose for doing something instead of just doing it “just because”.

I’m attempting to learn Spanish, not “just because”, but because I plan to live in a Spanish speaking country and want to communicate in the native language (and I kinda just like learning).

I’m not just learning how to salsa dance “just because”, salsa dancing is a social activity which is an area of focus for me to improve upon. Therefore this serves as a beneficial tool towards that underlying goal.

To get to your why when it comes to making strength training mission based—pretend you’re a child and delve into your curiosity. Just as a child would ask “why” until they get to the root of the issue—you need to keep asking why until you feel a strong resonance to your goal.

When you’re strength training with a purpose, you dramatically increase your chances of succeeding with your goals.

3.Does this actually fit into my desired lifestyle?

The most optimal workout plan backed by gurus, experts, and all your co-workers means little if that particular plan doesn’t fit into your preferred lifestyle.

It’s not you, it’s the workout plan.

Sure it may work for a couple of weeks due to you forcing the plan into your life, but as soon as the slightest curve ball is thrown your way, your plan is going to take a nosedive.

Forcing a training style that isn’t conducive to your lifestyle is going to lead to a battle between exercising and your desired lifestyle.

call-the-soldiers-in-for-war — most important questions before starting to strength train
No need to call the soldiers in & start a war between your fitness and desired lifestyle.

 

You’ll most likely choose your lifestyle and will resent fitness or even worse, create excuses as to why fitness isn’t just for you. If I tried to learn Spanish for four hours a day along with salsa dancing for three hours a day—this plan would fail because it doesn’t fit my preferred daily routine.

Before undergoing a strength training routine that isn’t a good match for you, assess your lifestyle and be realistic with your commitments.

Start by looking at your workday. How many hours do you work and what are those hours? Next, move on to your hobbies that are important to you. Also, assess your time with friends and family.

After laying out these factors into a weekly schedule, you can properly ask yourself how much can I realistically commit to exercising? 

4.Who do I need to become to get it?

This is where you reverse engineer your goals down into actionable steps. 

What will it take to make that big goal a reality? When setting goals, you want them to be reasonable and easily actionable so you can steadily build up your confidence.

Here’s an example I set for myself: I want to learn how to salsa dance. 

A couple of potential issues were my shyness and  confidence. I needed to set these goals up in a way that progressed me but still left me feeling good after each encounter and wasn’t too overwhelming for me.

With that said, I went to my first group salsa class and my only objective was to drive to the venue and walk in for five minutes. If I did that, then excellent—mission accomplished. 

The next time, I bumped the time up to 15 minutes and steadily increased from there until 60 minutes (the normal time frame for classes) was the goal.

So why the random spill about my salsa adventures?

Because I want you to approach your strength training this way—especially if you’re new.

It’s tempting to feel extremely motivated for the first few workouts but I don’t want you to risk motivational burnout.

Gradually build yourself up and your goals along the process. 

If you’re new, not as confident, or coming off a long layoff with lifting weights—make your daily mission ridiculously easy. Make it a goal to put your gym clothes on and arrive at the gym to exercise for 15 minutes (this can be a 5 minute warm up and then one–two exercises).

You do this, congratulations, you’re heading on the right path and just started an exercise streak—keep it going!

5 Steps to Better Health, More Energy, and Weight Loss Without Strict Dieting

fresh-strawberries-and-blackberries-in-little-bowl-picjumbo-com

Often times, I found myself frustrated and down about not reaching my goals. I thought I was covering everything I needed and addressing the right areas.

I wanted to develop a writing habit, a salsa dancing habit, a meditation habit but I couldn’t achieve my desired outcome (despite my effort).

But as I found out, I wasn’t focusing on the important metrics for my desired results.

I was overlooking the basics. We know the basics are a priority, but how many of us are actually following this advice?

Probably few.

Only once I started to truly focus on my fundamentals before anything else did my productivity and results follow suit.

This same philosophy is pivotal in fitness. If your results are lagging despite your perceived effort—odds are you’ve gotten ahead of yourself and didn’t master the essential behaviors for a solid and sturdy foundation.

Dieting doesn’t need to feel like a roller coaster where you’re holding on for dear life.

Weight loss without strict dieting and uncomfortable restrictions are possible and it starts by implementing these five steps.

1.Perform a dietary audit

All jobs need auditing and assessment for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

The same task is needed with your nutritional habits. If you start a diet on Monday; then take a break the next three days; then you’re back on for a day; then off until Monday—your diet severely needs an audit.

When you’re attempting to lose weight—the initial actions for many are to start counting calories, decide on a particular diet, and maybe quit some food groups altogether.

Counting calories are useful, but it’s a useless skill if you don’t know what healthy foods are. If you aren’t making healthy food choices on a daily basis, don’t bother counting calories just yet.

These food decisions lead to getting quality nutrients to help your metabolism, help build lean muscle, and help fight off diseases.

A great way to start is by taking the healthy eating quiz (just useful as a general baseline—not the final word).

Afterward, review and begin to focus on the quality of your food choices and daily healthy habits before micro-managing tactics that aren’t in your 80/20.

Long-term changes in the quality of your diet are equated to keeping the weight off for the long-term.

2.Develop love, admiration, and respect for micronutrients

In my book, Body Architectone of my favorite chapters discusses micronutrients and how they’re often treated as the supporting cast compared to the main actors (carbs, fats, & proteins).

But just as in any quality movie, without a solid supporting cast, the movie isn’t going to be good.

The same holds true with your nutrition.

Focusing only on the big three macros may grant you an aesthetic masterpiece, but without proper micronutrient intake—your internal health and daily energy levels are going to be less than optimal.

The majority of your micronutrients are from your fruit and vegetable intake.

study with more than 130,000 adults discovered that those who increased their intake of fruit and vegetables over four years lost weight.

Your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) help with supporting a healthy functioning metabolism (thyroid hormones), and prevention and treatment of diseases just to name a few of their many roles.

3.Don’t drink your calories

I’m a fan of making the easiest changes to your diets before anything else. One of the first rules I have my clients and workshop groups I speak with is to eliminate or at least minimize drinking calories.

Sugar-sweetened beverages don’t have their calories hidden, but many people often disregard or forget to count their drinks into their caloric intake.

Drinking your calories is a deceptive way to rack up your calorie count and other associated issues. It’s not just 1 soda a day that can increase your risk for diabetes— it’s sweet tea (my weakness), energy drinks, and other sugary drinks.

The next concern may be how to get your vitamins if you skip out on the multiple glasses of orange juice or milk and that’s where your fruits and vegetables come into play. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to get these nutrients along with a decrease in calories and sugars.

weight loss without strict dieting
If you’re going to drink your calories, make sure to load them up with quality nutrients.

4.Focus on your portion sizes

Michael Pollan sums it up perfectly in seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.”

If you head to restaurants that offer larger portions, you’re going to consume more food and calories (no shock value here). There’s more research which states that offering larger portions to adults and children leads to extra calories and inevitable weight gain down the road.

An easy way to practice healthier eating is to make half your plate vegetables, then one-quarter of the plate for protein, while the rest is for carbohydrates or healthy fats depending on your specific dietary plan.

5.Be wary of food triggers and environments

Everywhere we turn, it seems we’re seduced into eating and drinking. Food billboards, signs on buses, signs at the subway, tv ads, and vending machines.

These triggers and discreet psychological cues lead us to have cravings and mindlessly eat. Eating even when you’re not hungry is a common symptom of these cues and a big reason for obesity.

When you’re in these types of environments and feel food urges, stop and ask yourself “why do I want this food” three times before indulging. Also, don’t head to the grocery store empty handed—always have a list. Eat a filling meal before heading out to sporting events or movie theaters where less-than-ideal food is being served.

How to Simplify Your Diet And Have More Energy With These 9 Proven Nutritional Laws

How to Simplify Your Diet And Have More Energy With These 9 Proven Nutritional Laws

In the world of health and fitness, nutrition is notorious for being unnecessarily complex. Instead of determining how to simplify your diet, the current theme seems to be how to make your diet more complex than is necessary.

The basics don’t sell (they’re far from sexy).

However,  add some fancy jargon and rules—now you have a money maker.

Losing weight doesn’t need to be a roller coaster. Unfortunately, many people will diet and abandoned their plans within a couple of weeks due to the intense and regimented approach they forced upon themselves.

Instead of adopting habits that are truly beneficial to their particular lifestyle, many people find themselves adopting habits and strategies that perfectly suit someone else—not themselves.

Nutrition doesn’t have to feel like a game of tug-of-war. Food doesn’t have to be viewed in a negative light. Eating doesn’t have to feel like a chore.

Instead of dreading and resenting your diet, implement these 9 core nutritional laws that I use to simplify my diet.

1.Live by the 80/20 rule

The first objective on how to simplify your diet is to simply let go of the trivial nutritional tactics. Unless you’re a competitive athlete, prepping for a photo shoot, or a bodybuilding show—obsessing over minute nutritional tactics is counterproductive.

Before macro counting, measuring food, comparing whey protein powders—ask yourself “am I making good food choices on a daily basis?”

If you’re not making good food choices, don’t even look into advanced strategies. You can’t count, weigh, nor debate nutritional tactics if you don’t even understand how to properly make good food decisions.

Master your basics before anything else.

2.Have a bias for longevity

Looking fantastic at the beach, the pool, or on the boat is wonderful, but what good is it if the trade off is poor overall health.

A plan that focuses on longevity views internal health over external health while recognizing that each macronutrient plays a pivotal role in supporting an optimal and high performing physique.

As you’re designing your nutrition plan, make it a goal to eat a well-balanced diet and have all macronutrients represented appropriately as well as an ample amount of vegetables with each meal.

how to simplify your diet
Balance and diversity are keys to your nutrition.

3.Intelligently eat with purpose

You are what you eat. Eating just to eat is mindlessly eating and is the reason why so many people secretly put weight on over the years without recognizing what they’re doing to their body.

Intelligently eating is eating with an objective and purpose in mind.

It’s eating foods that you understand will not only help your internal health but also support your external (aesthetic) goals. Everything you eat should be able to help repair and build lean muscle while providing you with the energy needed to show up as the best version of yourself.

4.Have a green drink every day

I will gladly admit, I’m not the biggest fan of vegetables.

However, one the best decisions I’ve made in the last few months is to have one green drink each and every day. Our greens are so important because they contain a plethora of micronutrients which are the forgotten members of a healthy overall body. Many of our daily functions couldn’t be carried out without a plethora of micronutrients.

5.Have protein with every single meal

Protein gets a lot of the spotlight, but rightfully so. It plays a role in keeping our metabolism operating  smoothly, maintaining our energy levels, stabilizing our blood sugar levels, and is used in every single cell within our body.

Building lean muscle, maintaining proper neurological functioning, aiding in digestion, balancing hormones, helping maintain proper moods, and helping satiety levels—protein is a nutritional superhero.

Each woman should aim for at least one portion of protein (palm size serving) and males should be two portions (2 palm size servings). These aren’t set in stone but are a good place to start.

6.Have a few default meal options

Decision fatigue is a real thing. Information overload will make you less likely to take action or make smart decisions.

There’s a reason the president, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and many other high achievers wear the same outfits predominately throughout the week—it frees up space to make decisions and have energy for the important matters of the day.

The same applies to your nutrition. Eating a handful of the same meals throughout the week is the best thing you can do to turn your nutrition on autopilot. You know exactly what you’re putting in your body without wasting too much mental bandwidth thinking.

An example of a template I use is the rice bowl strategy:

  • Your meat of choice
  • Your preferred style of rice
  • Vegetables (at least 3 different types)
  • Coconut oil (used to prepare my chicken)
  • The serving size is entirely up to you and your desired goals.

7.If you’re having the urge to binge—ask why 3 times

Whether it’s a tough day at work, relationship stresses, discomfort from traffic or anything else—emotional eating is powerful enough to halt your fitness goals.

Before I make an impulse food decision, I ask myself why I want this item three times. If it’s three sound and logical reasons, then I buy the item with no guilt. Often times, by the second and definitely the third reason, you’ll realize this impulse food decision was only a distraction to something else going on within your life that you’re avoiding.

8.When you do indulge, indulge guilt-free

Guilt is a terrible and unnecessary thing.

I love tacos, tamales, arepas, empanadas, ice cream, and wine. I resist from binge eating by having control of my emotions and indulge by selectively planning for moments of indulgence.

Diets are important, but they don’t equate to deprivement of the foods you enjoy.

chocolate cake
There’s always a time and place for some chocolate cake

9. Eat foods that you (actually) enjoy

If you’re on a nutrition plan that includes foods you don’t enjoy, how realistic is it to expect that you’ll stick to it?

Willpower is finite and motivation is fleeting.

I don’t like brown rice so I’m not going to eat it (there are many types of rice & other available starches).

Don’t like broccoli? No biggie, there’s a plethora of other green veggies.

According to a study published in “Eating Behaviors” in  2005, individuals who took a strict, rigid, all-or-nothing approach to dieting were more likely to have a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) and compulsive eating behaviors compared to those who were a little more flexible with their dieting approach.

When you give yourself options and feel in control of what you’re eating, you’re going to create a better attitude toward nutrition and yourself.