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Sometimes when you’re in the dead of winter, nobody really knows what day of the week it is. Internet memes out there suggest doing as little as possible and simply wait for the time to pass. Though I have done my fair share of mindless scrolling, now is a good time to take a step back and assess how you might approach your health & fitness before the weather gets nice.

If you’re thinking about getting started and making a change, I’ve laid out a few thoughts & musings on six different topics that may come as a new perspective, forever alter your own belief in fitness, or even trigger a visceral reaction (hopefully one of the first two).

You won’t always feel motivated

This one might seem obvious. If you’re someone that has never settled into a workout routine and going to the gym is always the last thing you want to do, you’re not alone. Despite what you may think, fitness pros, athletes, and the models on the beach would- if given the choice- choose not to work out as well. Once upon a time these people probably started out like you; out of shape, not knowing what to do, or simply avoiding it all together. But once they started seeing the effects of their hard work, that’s when it clicked. Motivation only comes after taking the initial action and getting results from the work you put in. The results are the fun part because you realize that if you just keep going, achieving your goals is a possibility after all. This is when you feel motivated to continue taking more action.

Cardio is overrated for weight loss but underrated for health

Simply because weight loss is way easier controlled by nutrition. Cardio is no magic bullet because if it was, every gym would be filled only with treadmills and spin bikes.  You can get the same results (if not better) from resistance training along with improving your diet. That being said, cardio is extremely beneficial for your health and should be included in nearly every exercise program, no matter the goal. Cardio is commonly known as anything that elevates your breathing and increases your heart rate (running, skiing, rowing, biking, jumping rope, playing sports) and works to strengthen your heart & lungs. Given today’s obesity rates, heart disease, and the consequences of COVID, having a strong heart and powerful set of lungs is something everyone should be striving for.

Getting stronger makes life easier

There’s a famous saying, “Strong people are harder to kill and more useful in general,” and I have a hard time arguing the point. If you’re stronger, picking up your kids becomes easier, dragging luggage around airports is easier, helping a friend move is less of a burden, and aging becomes less stressful. The list of the perks could continue forever, whereas I cannot find a single good reason to advocate for being “less strong.”

“Fat Loss” workouts don’t exist

There’s no such thing as a “fat loss workout”. Sitting and reading this post will lead to fat loss- if you’re in a calorie deficit and consuming high-quality foods. You can work out at maximum intensity, but you won’t lose a single pound if you’re eating like crap (many CrossFitters can speak to this, myself included). This is the same reason why cardio isn’t “better” for fat loss. 

If you don’t know where to start, go for walks.

Walking is the most underrated form of exercise.  Fitness can be overwhelming for beginners, but simply walking is a great place to start. If you’re rehabbing from an injury, pregnant, or need something low-impact, start your fitness tracker and see how far you can go. Throw some headphones on or chat with a friend and you’ll get a serviceable workout. Countless weight loss victories have come from just walking and simple movement. Go for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour or two every day and notice the results. Furthermore, if you already hit an intense workout at the gym, a moderate walk later in the day is great for encouraging recovery while getting a few thousand extra steps.

When progress stalls, look at your sleep (no matter what your goal is).

Sleep is the new kale (or beets, or whatever the latest trend is). Adequate and high-quality sleep has the power to change the trajectory of your health and fitness. If you’re feeling rundown or stressed and you feel ‘stuck’ in your routine, just take a quick inventory of your sleep habits. Are you waking up at night? Are you on your phone or computer until you close your eyes? Is your room cold enough? Is it dark enough? Have you tried a wind-down routine? Are you getting at least 7 hours of sleep? There are countless knobs to turn and buttons to press to improve your sleep and most of them take very little time and effort. Before you know it, you could be sleeping like a baby, getting results, and feeling better overall.

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