5 Key Components for Fitness Success

Between vacations and regular barbeque parties (complete with salty snacks and fruity beverages), summer is a challenging time to stick to a regular workout schedule and healthy eating regime.  September, however, is the perfect time for a fresh start: Kids are back in school, the afternoon sun is a little cooler, and we settle back into a regular routine.  It’s time to get motivated and focus on you!
Whether you are starting, re-starting, or re-energizing your fitness routine, be sure to include the following five key components of a well-rounded health and fitness plan.

  1. Healthy Eating. A solid health and fitness plan starts with cleaning up your diet.  I often tell my clients that you cannot exercise away poor nutrition.  For maximum results (whether it’s to lose weight, feel better, and improve strength or energy levels) you must fuel your body with the right kinds of foods.  We recommend a diet rich in lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables and fruit and whole grains to get the results you deserve.
  2. Build your Strength.  Resistance training exercises are important to maximize fat loss, increase your metabolic rate, improve posture, and bone density and to get that ‘toned’ look.  Aim to work your muscles a minimum of two times per week.  For maximum results in minimum time, pick exercises that work the multiple muscle groups.  My ‘go-to’ exercises for a full body strength program include squats, lunges, push-ups, rows (pulls), back extensions and some form of the plank.  With a well-rounded program to meet your goals, you can get in and out of the weight room in 30 minutes or less- and get the body that will make you wish it were still bikini season!
  3. Get Your Heart Rate Up.  Health Canada recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise over the week for health benefits.  If you are new to exercise, or if your goal is simply to maintain a certain level of health, Health Canada’s recommendation will do the trick.  If your goal is to lose body fat or improve your fitness level, you can bank on either working out for longer, or increasing the level of intensity.  Interval training, or cycling between short interval of high intensity exercise and a easier rest interval, is a fantastic way to burn fat, and improve your fitness level in a minimum amount of time.
  4. Stretch.  To recover from exercise, prevent injuries and improve your posture, you need to stretch.  When muscles are tight, but body must alter its movement patterns to compensate for a tight area.  This will often result in injury.  Which muscles you should stretch will depend on your posture and flexibility around each joint.  The majority of our clients benefit from stretching the chest muscles, hip flexors (front of hips), quadriceps, calves and lower back.
  5. Be accountable to someone.  Whether you have a choice to have a coach, friend, dog, or app on your iPhone, being accountable to someone (or something) else will help you stay committed to your health and fitness routine.  Make plans with someone else to workout- if you have someone who is counting on you, you will likely make your appointment!

Tanja Shaw is a Kinesiologist and Fitness Coach, specializing in weight loss, group fitness, pre and postnatal fitness, and health and wellness programs.  She owns Ascend Fitness Coaching, home to Ascend Fitness Boot Camp, Stroller Boot Camp, and personal training programs.  For more fitness tips go to www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.

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