Why your new gym habit isn't working.
Ten tips to make your workouts way better, another recipe to borg de borg over, and an exercise for your core that you won't believe is actually awesome for your core.
Before I get into this week’s email, I want to address the elephant in the room.
Covid-19, changes to levels, and general talk about clusters messes with my mental health in ways I cannot accurately define.
Going back up to level 2 for us and level 3 lockdown for Auckland was a shock. Even though we’d been warned it was a matter of when not if covid returned, in order to cope properly last time, I think I had told myself that we were safe now. Things were going back to the normal I recognised. Time to tidy up the economy by spending money if we had it, and getting help if we didn’t. And so with the new announcement, somewhat late at night and delivered with urgency, my core was shook - and not in a good way from doing a bunch of toe tap crunches - more on that further down. What happened was an inability for me to do all the things I enjoyed. Writing these emails, gives me a lot of joy, but I just couldn’t. It felt frivolous and silly. The country was once again in defence mode against bloody Covid, and I didn’t know what to do.
And so, three weeks later, after time with my therapist and my GP, I’m starting to come back to life a little. And see purpose in my work and what I do here.
Thanks for sticking around to wait for me to sort things out - I really appreciate it. Anyway, on with the show - this week’s email is ten things to make your workouts better, and I challenge whether zucchini belongs in banana bread.
Ten things to make your workouts better
Take what you like from this list of reckons.. there’s plenty more where this came from, too!
Sleep is the queen of achieving goals. Get some good sleep, allow your body the chance to heal and repair after a busy day or workout, and watch the changes happen.
The last two reps of your set of exercises is where the magic happens. If your workout sheet says ten reps, and you have gas in the tank for a couple more, do a couple more after that. Getting to failure or as close to it as you can, helps to build muscle more effectively, burn up any body fat you don’t need or want quicker, and keep you doing those things long after you’ve finished your workout.
Drink your water and be consistent with it. Exercising on a dehydrated body is pointless. Your muscles are damned thirsty things, and work way better under water than dried out like beef jerky.
Push yourself. Do more. If you think you can’t, you’re wrong and I know you can. I’ve seen it in so many of my clients. From ones who start off not wanting to join a gym to bench pressing within weeks. Clients who only want to do cardio, to then deadlifting 30kgs on a platform. You can do it. You absolutely can. I will hold your hand. You just need to ask.
Don’t be afraid of your sweat. It’s normal, and natural, and healthy. Don’t apologise for it. Use a sweat towel to sit or lie on, and clean it up afterwards. I promise you, it’s ok.
Do what you can do in the time you have. Having an hour spare each workout day is quite rare if you’re a busy person. And if you define a workout as being one hour in the gym, you’ll never get there. Come to the gym if you have 10 or 20 minutes spare to exercise. Do one set or three. Don’t do anything and sit in the massage chairs for a bit. Define the success of your workout after you have done it. And if success is coming through the doors only to turn around and leave again a few minutes later, that is much better than not coming in and putting it off till tomorrow.
Ask for help. If you’re concerned you’re doing an exercise wrong, find someone in a branded gym shirt and ask them to help you. Book in for an orientation at your gym. Hire a personal trainer for one or two sessions to get you started. There’s always a deal to be had at the gym and lots of free help, too.
Eat well. You can’t expect to exercise well on an empty stomach, or on an overly full stomach for that matter. You don’t have to count calories or track your macros if you don’t want to. I don’t. But I also don’t eat like an asshole either. I eat whatever I want, slowly, to 80% full. That way, I’m allowing my brain and stomach to catch up with each other so I don’t feel awful from eating too much.
Protein is key. Get some good quality, lean protein into your diet if you can. This helps repair your muscles, and gives you energy for your next workout. If you can’t get a lean protein source from your food, feel free to try a protein supplement like a powder in a shake. Pea protein, hemp protein, whey protein - it really doesn’t matter, whatever you like best is the one that’s right for you. I’ll write more about this topic next week.
Enjoy your exercise or do something else. If you do not like running on a treadmill, don’t do it. Find a different cardiovascular exercise. There are so many to try. Same goes for weights. If lifting very heavy weights is your bag, do that. If not, find another type of resistance training. Enjoying your exercise is the best way to stick at it. Give everything a fair go, and make your own mind up. I hate crunches (except toe-taps) and so I do other exercises to strengthen my core. It’s gotta be at least mildly fun otherwise you’ll dread it and end up donating to your gym, and no one wants that.
Recipe of the week - Zucchini banana bread
Does Zucchini belong in banana bread? Honestly I just don’t know. Banana is a definite contender. But some of my parent friends are worried their kids are not getting enough zucchini in their diets and well, my dietitian friend popped this recipe through to me, and so here it is. I’ll be honest, because that’s me - opinionated and honest as the day is long. My idea of banana bread actually contains banana and Hershey’s kisses melted through it. Not zucchini. And if I’m double honest I’m on the fence about oat flour. But doing it this way means less gluten - not completely gluten free because oat flour is usually processed in the same place the wheat flour is. I reckon if you have a go-to gluten free flour just use that. Look, it’s good for the school bake sale, right? And it doesn’t taste half bad. There’s still bits of green in it that your observant fussy kids will highlight to you. But the happy oblivious children will be cool with it.
Exercise of the week - Hooks
Boxing is one of my favourite things to do for exercise. I usually train each Monday morning boxing with my trainer and boxing is a great exercise for anyone who can move their arms. Watch the video (sorry it’s a dude again) of this move which is a high hook. If you can’t get your arms that high up, drop them down for a low hook instead. Pivot on your toes to really engage your core with a twist to your torso. This is great for shoulders and back and arms too. It is also a great cardio workout if you really go to town on it.
Thanks for reading through my email - Fitness at any size. I really appreciate the time you give to me for this and I hope you get some value from it. If you have any questions you can reply directly to this email or if you’ve landed here from a link, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Facebook here, Twitter here, or visit my website Sweaty Pals online here. To subscribe to this email please click the orange button at the top of the page. You can also book me to help with your exercise in the gym or online via my app here. I have a few spots left for one on one coaching, and there’s always room on my app if you live outside of North Wellington.