I used to be a drug and alcohol addict. I spent more than a decade thinking there wasn’t much more to life than waiting for my next hit or my next drink. Substances became the most important thing in my life by the time I was a teenager. Finally deciding to make a change was difficult, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
When I was in my late 20s I went to drug and alcohol rehab. Recovery was a very tough road, but I learned a lot about myself and it was the place where I realized that I had a future. I had a chance to start over and build a new life, and it could be anything I wanted it to be. There I found the motivation to take care of my mind, body, and spirit.
One of the main actions I took to take care of my physical health was exercising. At that point in my life, I was a bit overweight and I was completely out of shape, so starting to work out was a real challenge. It has been more than 9 years today since I got sober, 9 years in which I have kept taking care of my body with exercise and a balanced diet. During this time I have learned a lot about nutrition and exercise. Today, I want to talk about 5 things you should avoid if you want to get fit.
One of the mistakes I made when I started to exercise was doing too much. I wanted to lose some weight and become really muscular and I thought the best way to do it was working out several hours a day and doing intense routines, even if I was out of shape. By the second week, all my muscles were hurting and I didn’t want to go back to the gym. I was over exercised.
Starting small and slowly working your way up is better than starting big and over exercising yourself, which can lead you to lose your motivation. Besides, over-exercising can be harmful to your muscles. It takes 48 hours for your muscles to fully recover after a workout. In fact, even if you have built endurance and strength, you still have to give your muscles time to rest and recover.
2. Sticking to One Form of Exercise
When it comes to exercise, variety is key, especially when you’re just starting out. Always doing the same routine might make you bored and lose your motivation to keep working out. Even if you enjoy your routine, mixing it up can help you get more benefits than sticking to one type of exercise. For example, working out the same muscles every day makes them more prone to injury, so by doing different routines, you will work all your muscles without overusing them.
What works best for me is switching my cardio exercise every week. One week I jog, the next one I go swimming, then cycling, and so on. This keeps me motivated and looking forward to the next time I work out. Make sure to pick activities that you enjoy, otherwise, there’s no point.
3. Not Drinking Enough Water
When you exercise you lose more body fluids than usual, so you need to keep yourself more hydrated. Water is essential for your body to carry out all body processes correctly, so you need to up your water intake when you exercise in order to avoid dehydration. Besides, when you don’t drink enough water you are not getting the best out of your workout: working out while dehydrated can make you feel dizzy. A lack of water in your body means you can get cramps easier and your muscles won’t work as efficiently.
As to how much water you should drink, it may vary from person to person. My trainer recommends drinking 20 ounces of water a couple of hours before working out, then drinking 10 ounces a few minutes before beginning your workout, and drinking another 8 ounces every 15 minutes during your workout.
4. Comparing Yourself To Others
I know it’s hard not to compare yourself to others, but everyone does at one point or another. We compare ourselves to our classmates at school, to our colleagues at work, friends, family members and so on… One of the things I learned at rehab is that everyone has their own process, and comparing yourself to others is not only pointless but it makes you feel terrible as well.
When it comes to exercise, we all have different genetics, metabolisms, and bodies in general. Therefore, even if it takes you longer than others to achieve your results, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it wrong, it’s just the way your body works. Also, it’s not fair for you to compare yourself, a beginner, to someone who has been working out for years. You can’t expect to be able to lift weights like they do or have the shape they have after just a week of training. You will get there, you just have to remain patient.
5. Having an Unbalanced Diet
Eating healthy is key to achieving your exercise goals. How you eat and when you do it can make a difference in how you feel when you work out, and, of course, eating right is essential if you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle.
It is important that you check with a nutritionist that will recommend a diet made for you according to your physiology and exercise goals. However, as a general rule, a balanced diet is one that gives you the nutrients your body needs to function correctly. It usually includes different types of food from each of the main food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, among others. Make sure to avoid foods and drinks that contain a lot of calories but no nutrients at all. This is the case with processed carbohydrates, sodas, and alcohol.
Becoming fit is all about making good decisions for your health and adopting good habits. Incorporating exercise slowly, mixing your routines up, drinking enough water, staying focused on your own progress and eating healthy are my 5 recommendations. The journey towards fitness can be hard at first, but soon you will start noticing changes in your mind and body, and it only gets more and more satisfying from there.
What do you think is an important thing to avoid in order to become fit? Please let us know in the comments below.