Do you know what the 5 best exercises are for weight loss? Do you know which 3 foods will boost your energy levels more than any other food on the planet? What about the 10 best workout DVD’s? 6 most effective cellulite busting tips? 7 most effective running workouts to improve your marathon time?
No, I didn’t think so. And I suspect and hope that this is because you realise that there aren’t 5 best exercises for weight loss, or 3 miracle energy-giving foods. There’s nothing wrong at all with the media highlighting effective exercises to help you stay fit and healthy, or to promote foods that you may not have tried or that have possible health benefits identified in scientific research.
The problem comes when you’re led to believe in these things as miracles and cure-alls. Stocking up your cupboards with acai berries will not mean you never get a cold again, drinking endless litres of grape juice will not mean you’re guaranteed not to suffer from heart disease and eating a grapefruit a day is the not answer to all of your weight loss goals.
So what can you take from these articles? Think of yourself as a plumber, your aim should be to expand the number of tools you possess. You may learn that there are one or two exercises you’ve never done before and you can add them into your weekly exercise routine. Or you’ll see a food that you’ve just discovered might support your goals in doe way, so you think you could add that to your weekly shop occasionally. No single exercise or food will provide the answer or everybody would have done it a long time ago and somebody would have earned a lot of money in the process. Similarly, there is no one tool that a plumber can carry to provide a solution for all jobs they do. The best and most effective plumbers are the ones that literally have a tool for every job.
When I teach Personal Trainer courses, one of the most important pieces of advice I give to any budding PT is to build up their toolkit as much as possible. Know a wide range of exercises and methods and different ways of helping people to change. Many business in health and fitness these days have been built on the notion that their way, or their piece of exercise kit is the best, the one for you, the answer to everybody’s problems. As a public we believe in this, probably for a few reasons:
1) It is a quick fix - it looks pretty easy. I just stand on that wobbly thing three times a week and I’ll look just like I want to.
2) It doesn’t take me much effort - I don’t need to think. I just eat add water to those powders twice a day and then eat dinner and I’ll be the weight I want to be in no time.
3) It might work - i’ve tried so many things and I’m desperate to get back to the weight and size I used to be so I’ll give it a go.
And of course it may work, but it also may not. People are different and some respond better to certain types of exercise than others. Equally, one diet may make a real difference to one individual whilst at the same time having no effect on another, or even worse cause another to gain weight. Unfortunately there is no ‘wonder test’ that tells you which eating pattern works best and which exercise routine is right for you. And of course what is right for you can change over time as your life changes. Age, stress levels, sleep patterns and a whole host of other factors can affect your energy levels, metabolism and hormones, which in turn change how much physical exertion you can cope with and which foods will help you.
Over time a personal trainer gets a good 'feel’ for how these factors work together, and can advise you on what may well be the best options for you, but cannot say with 100% certainty that it will definitely work. It often does, but even then your life situation may change and things will again need adapting to best suit you. Even without a PT to support you, it’s important to remember:
1) There is no such thing as failure, only learning. Trying a new exercise routine and eating pattern may not work in its entirety for you but you’re bound to learn something, even if it’s what not to do in future. I read a wonderful quote this week from Michael Jordan, one of the best basketball players of all time. It encapsulates this idea wonderfully:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
2) The best way to achieve long-term success in health and fitness goals is to become attuned to your body and its needs. It will always tell you what it wants and you can learn from its reactions what the '5 best exercises’ and '3 best foods’ are for you.
So, remember to take any 'x best’ lists with a pinch of salt, learn from them and use them to try changes in your own lifestyle but whatever you do, don’t rely on them as gospel and don’t be disheartened if these miracle cures don’t work for you. Note what you’ve learned form your attempts and then adapt, maybe make a small tweak if you think that will work better or try something completely different.
Over time you can make your own 'x best’ and 'x worst’ lists for you. Here’s a few examples of things I’ve learned about my own body through my journey through health and fitness:
- If I try to train hard without getting enough sleep (8 hours for me), I am likely to pick up a cold, especially if I train in the mornings.
- Whilst I know they’re good for me, apples and nuts don’t fill me up when having a snack, oranges and bananas on the other hand do the job nicely.
- I work best on a reasonable amount of carbohydrates. If I don’t eat enough wholemeal bread, rice, quinoa etc I find it harder to concentrate, feel hungry more quickly and don’t perform as well in the gym and in any races I take part in.
- Cheap muesli tends to give me stomach ache after eating it.
- I work best on low to moderate volume training at a good intensity as opposed to doing lots and lots of exercise.
Take time to learn about you and it will pay dividends, helping to keep you fit and healthy, and looking and feeling like you want. If you don’t know where to start, please get in touch, I’ve designed lots of ways to help you through my company balance weight loss and I’ll always answer any questions you may have.
Be happy and healthy,
0775 200 1203