Ok. You had a great 2012. So did I.
One of the factors that will make your trip so much fun is all the attention you get. It can swell your head. Now some of this attention can simply be bought. Ladies may choose to go super duper frontline with all the bells and whistles on their costumes, big hair, colourful make-up. Guys have the option to try the same thing (highly NOT recommended). A much better plan that is not dependent on the offerings of any band is to chip down the road with a body worthy of legend….6 packs are ALWAYS in style!
Here is a guide to going to carnival in eye popping shape….if you do it right you will want the smallest (skimpiest) rather than the biggest costume:)
One one coco full basket….
The first thing that I have to impress on you is the fact that this will not be a short journey. It will be long and arduous. It will mean at least some sacrifice and discomfort. It will test your ability to stick to a plan, your discipline. The path to getting in peak physical shape requires you to slowly do what it takes to FORCE your body to look like how you want it to look. If it is to be sustainable it has to be done in the long term.
The first step is to form a plan.
Start off easy
Its a common mistake to try and start at the top…if you do there is nowhere to go but down. Start off easy, and stay at a relatively easy level for at least a week or two before you start to turn on the heat. This will ensure that you don’t end up in bed with crippling muscle soreness (a common reason people give up early). It’s important to seek guidance regarding proper technique in whatever exercise you decide to try and check with your doctor first if you have ANY doubts about your health.
The premise behind getting in shape is that when you challenge your body, it responds. For example, if your shoe is tight and squeezes your toe, the toe grows a corn to protect itself. In that same way if you force your muscles to lift things that are heavier than they are used to they respond by getting bigger, tighter and stronger. SIMPLE!
After the initial breaking in period
Once you have started to find your groove, its time to start turning up the heat. You have to work outside of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is actually your enemy. It wastes your money and time. Think of each workout as a chance to get a tiny bit closer to your goal and that will only happen if you continually try to go a bit harder, lift a bit heavier and do that extra last two reps!
Assess your progress occasionally with a tape measure or mirror. Do not use a scale. No one knows/cares how much you weigh, only how you look!
Time under Tension….
Google it! Fellas, this concept is the difference between good and great when it comes to building a better body. The concept is simple. The part of your workout that actually builds muscle is when your muscles are under tension, the relaxation. For example, curling a dumbbell….you get the burn when you contract the weight up…but then if you just let it drop down to your side you get nothing out of the down phase. So then, it’s much more efficient to keep the muscle under tension…so curl up then slowly (2 to 3 seconds)bring the weight back down so the muscle cannot get a chance to relax and repeat. For building muscle you want your set to last somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds. For burning fat, stretch that up to 120 seconds.
Guys, you may find that at first you have to drastically decrease the amount of weight you use.
High Intensity Interval Training…
Google this one too! This is the secret to losing fat. The weights will get you some of the way there but you need to do some cardio. There are problems with traditional low intensity cardio like hours of aerobics or jogging 10 miles. First of all, low intensity stuff takes too long. I for one only have an hour to do my morning cardio (including the going to and coming home). Secondly, you will very quickly get used to the low intensity traditional cardio and what will happen is that you will only burn calories during the cardio…the second you stop your improved metabolism stops burning calories.
This is where HIIT comes in. You need to do something that stretches you to your limit. I would walk a steep hill (15 min) then do sprints for the last 50meters (about 4 or 5). At the end of each hill sprint you feel like you are going to die….but you don’t. In 45 minutes I am back in my car at the bottom of the hill, exhausted.
After a HIIT routine your metabolism stays high for hours as your body tries to recover, repair as well as replace your depleted energy stores. Its something that takes a LONG time before your body gets used to it and you will lose bodyfat like CRAZY!
Women are Homo Sapiens too….
At this point I know most women are tuning out. The ubiquitous “I don’t want to get all thick and muscular like a bodybuilder” excuse comes up. Ladies, a lot of the tight, “toned” ladies you see in magazines lift weights. Yoga alone won’t get you there:). A “slim” woman with no muscle mass jiggles…not nice. Even plump ladies look great once they build the muscles under there to keep the package firm!
The plain truth is that it is not as easy as you think to become big and thick, even for men, or else there would be a lot more thick guys around. Even if you work hard, getting a body like the lady up on top of this article is for only the most dedicated. However, if you work hard, THROW AWAY YOUR PRECONCEPTIONS, and eat right you can transform your body (if thats what you want). Ladies, you have to simply do the work. You cannot lift the cute teenie weights (lighter than the handbag you lug around all day) and expect results. Getting results means getting mean, rough and tough in the gym. Take it serious! No work, no results. I know I am brow beating the ladies here but I really want more of you to get that shape you aim for. And by the way, the most dedicated, hard working gym fanatic I know is a woman. She is older than I am (in her 40′s) and has the body of a 25 year old (actually, better than 90% of avg. 25 year olds).
Eat your way to health…..
Abs are 70% made in the kitchen. Remember this! You could work out like hell, if you eat pizza everyday you will get strong but without the cuts.
The secret to your diet is again to take the long road. Apart from the last month before the big day on the road you have to have a sensible and healthy long term diet. This probably means slightly smaller portions, as most of us simply eat more than we need to. You also have to make sure to balance your diet. Replace some of that rice (or roti) with salad. Note the word REPLACE don’t add a salad to the Big Mac and expect results. Make sure that you take in enough carbs and protien to support your workout but be sensible and reduce the fat in those foods. No fried anything, much less gravy, you get the drift. It doesn’t have to be bland either, just not dripping in oil and fat.
Snacking will have to change dramatically. I for one CANNOT resist the urge to snack, so I make sure that I have healthy snacks around (this month its papaya). Use fruits or search around for low/no fat snacks (ricecakes).
Personally I work the diet like this. I do my cardio in the morning followed by a lowfat breakfast of oats with raisins, cinnamon and banana slices. For lunch I have a moderately sized meal with salad and some protien to fuel my after work gym session. Then after the gym (as soon after as possible for maximum benefit) I have my largest daily meal with more protien than lunch to encourage muscle growth.
It takes time but be encouraged that the pound come off very quickly the more overweight you are. If you are aleady in decent shape it can seem like a thankless endevour….but stick with it.
In general Protien powder (whey based) is the only suppliment I use. You have to do this in a sustainable way. Drugs like Beta HCG are not the way. They have MANY complex effects on the body and who knows what problems they will cause later (or sooner). As a fitness enthusiast and a medical doctor I can wholeheartedly say “say no to drugs”.
So there you have it.
The time is NOW! Go forth and get your gym membership or find a running club or some fitness activity (cross fit anyone). Start slow, challenge yourself, inform yourself on the best strategies, eat right and you will meet your goal.
I will post an occasional fitness post with where I expect you to be if you start from zero as of today.
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Do or do not. There is no try
Thanks to Ulisses, Ebony Lavette and Natalie Benson for the images