Over the decades, society has been obsessed with how to create the body beautiful. Unfortunately, our pre-occupation has lead to much confusion over the best way to go about it. Women in particular have often been placated into thinking that it's impossible to achieve their dream physique; getting trapped in cycles of eating and cardio binges. As a young person, I remember reading an article in a woman's magazine that stated that you "can't change your shape, only your size" and that we should pretty much just accept our bodies, even if we aren't happy with them. What a load of complete rubbish!
Here are 6 tips for getting the results you want:
1 Trust the Professionals.
If you had a problem with your car, would you try to fix it yourself? Our bodies are wonderful, complex and individual machines that need the right support to look and feel their best. They are also our most important assets, and we can't buy another one if something goes wrong. If it's truly important to you to change your shape and improve your health, then it's easy to justify employing the services of a reputable dietician, massage therapist and personal trainer. When we can stop and reflect on how much of our incomes are spent on alcohol and takeaway food, we can see where that money could be better spent if nurturing our bodies was a priority.
2 Learn how to eat
"I eat pretty well." Ask your trainer how often they have heard this phrase and you will most likely see them perform an involuntary face palm. Unfortunately, people get very defensive about what they actually put into their mouths on a daily basis. There’s a phrase – “abs are made in the kitchen" and this is very true. As any type of fitness professional worth their salt will tell you, diet is by far the most important factor in maintaining a leaner body. It is impossible to out-train a bad diet. That is not a mission statement; it's a cold, hard fact.
3 Lift weights
The concept of "energy in, energy out" is an easy one to grasp for most, so it's easy to understand why cardio is the first point of call for most embarking on a quest for fat loss. Cardiovascular training does burn fat and is important for the health of our heart and lungs. But honestly, its effect on changing our shape is vastly overrated. Strength and resistance training, in contrast helps our muscles to grow and develop. Coupled with an appropriate diet, it is by far a more powerful tool for creating the body of your dreams. Weight training also increases our basal metabolic rate - the speed at which we burn fat at rest. Oh, and just in case you STILL prescribe to that incredibly outdated theory that lifting weights makes women huge, here is your new mantra; "Weights don't make women huge- cupcakes do!"
4 Understand your body
It sounds simple, but how aware are you really about the way you're put together?
Do you feel your target muscle groups when you try to work on them, or does every effort result in a sore back, knees or neck? The body transforms best when addressed with the following hierarchy;
Stability/Activation - being able to support our bodyweight correctly through movement and activate the correct muscles whilst performing an exercise.
Mobility - being able to counter tight and overactive muscle groups to perform a good range of movement as nature intended. Having a good balance of flexibility through our form.
Strength - developing our physical selves under load. Our bodies were not created to sit in a chair all day - if we do not have the strength to perform basic movement patterns such as a squat, bend, push and pull then we have little chance of changing our shape.
5 Be accountable and consistent
If you are truly serious about getting results, you will no longer have "good weeks" and "bad weeks." Instead you will have weeks where exercise and food preparation were a joy, and others that were an uphill battle, but you still got it done. No matter how busy our lives are, we reap what we sow.
6 Say no to scams
Unfortunately, the health and fitness industry is full of opportunists taking advantage of people in search of easy answers. The bottom line is, if something sounds too good to be true, it most certainly is. No "cleanse" or meal replacement program or miracle exercise machine will ever yield the long-term effects of common sense. Deep down we all know this, but it's hard not to want to listen to a sales pitch, particularly if it's coming from someone who presents himself or herself as a professional. Be honest with yourself and spend that hard-earned money on seeing a dietician for a proper meal plan instead. Don't insult your own intelligence!
So there you have it. Our dream body is certainly not out of reach. Attaining it IS simple - just not necessarily physically or emotionally easy. If it's something that is really important to you, give the process the time and energy it deserves and you will never look back!
Loretta Sargent has been a personal trainer for 7 years, with a certificate III and IV in fitness, and incorporates ideologies learnt through her experience with yoga to ensure a mind/body connection.