A personal trainer is a certified fitness expert that can help you tailor your exercise to meet your fitness goals. While having a trainer is not a requirement to start exercising, a trained professional can help you exercise more safely and efficiently. If you’ve been on the fence about whether to seek out the help of a trainer, here are five ways you can benefit from this relationship.
You feel unsure of yourself at the gym.
The gym can be an overwhelming place. Unfamiliar machines, a lack of experience, and a room of fit people can be enough to make you want to turn around and go home. A trainer can help you overcome these discouraging feelings. He or she will show you how to navigate equipment and use it correctly to build the confidence you need to step up and grab a set of weights.
You have a long-term fitness goal.
When you sign up for a distance race or a fitness challenge, it can be difficult to know where to begin with your training. A personal trainer can help you evaluate your goals and create a timely program that will prepare you for your event.
You’re recovering from an injury.
When you return to exercise after an injury, safety is the number one priority. It’s important to ease back into exercise to gradually increase your strength and reduce your risk for injuring yourself again. A trainer will evaluate your current fitness level to find the best place to start. He or she can also provide alternative exercise ideas to help you avoid aggravating an old injury.
You skip workouts.
Hiring the assistance of a fitness professional means a commitment to exercise. If you often skip workouts, the financial investment and scheduled meetings involved in working with a trainer will help hold you more accountable.
Repeating the same workout over and over can cause you to lose interest in exercise. Your workouts need to be exciting and challenging to keep you motivated. A trainer can provide new ideas for exercises and a creative program that changes as your fitness improves.
Understanding what causes hunger, how to stay full longer, and how to reduce cravings are important steps for weight loss. It allows you to make the changes necessary to take control of hunger before it takes control of you.
Eat a balanced meal.
A balanced meal offsets changes in the body that can trigger hunger. If you sit down to a meal full of simple sugars and lacking protein or fiber, you will likely be hungry again soon after eating. Refined carbohydrates spike blood sugar, which is then followed by a crash that will have your stomach grumbling. Protein helps to stabilize your blood sugar, reducing this spike and crash reaction. Research shows that increasing fiber intake also increases fullness. By balancing your meal to include a lean protein source like poultry or beans with complex carbohydrates and fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, you will feel full longer.
Fill up on fewer calories.
If the meal ends and you still feel like you haven’t had enough to eat, take a closer look at the foods on your plate. Eating nutrient-dense foods that provide fewer calories allows you to eat more while still reaching your weight loss goals. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, and most have few calories. Add a salad to your meal or fruit for dessert. Filling up on these foods will keep you feeling satisfied.
Don’t drink your calories.
Sodas, alcohol, and juices supply the body with calories, but they won’t fill you up. When research subjects eat the same number of calories of solid food versus beverages, they report feeling fuller with food.
Recognize true hunger.
Years of food restriction and fad diets can result in a numbing of hunger signals and an inability to recognize fullness. This causes you to confuse when your body needs fuel and when you are hungry out of stress or boredom. When hunger strikes, stop and assess the situation. How long has it been since you last ate? It’s normal to feel hunger about 3 to 5 hours after eating. Do you have a physical feeling of hunger like a grumbling stomach? If so, chances are your body needs some healthy fuel. If not, you might be turning to food for reasons other than hunger. The more you stop to evaluate your cravings for food, the better you will become at recognizing true hunger.
Identify your triggers.
We all have triggers that make us crave foods even when we are not truly hungry. It’s essential to identify these triggers so that you can eliminate them and reduce eating when you are not truly hungry. Do you browse a food blog or restaurant website and find you are suddenly hungry? Do you sit in front of the television and want a snack? Seeing food can trigger cravings. When you recognize how these triggers affect you, you can learn to ignore the cravings and monitor your activities to steer clear of situations that make you hungry.
Body weight is an important health indicator, but it is also one of the most complex. Weight fluctuates and often depends on exercise and food intake. A good weigh-in can fill you with motivation, but one that shows a slight gain could also ruin your day. It’s important not to become obsessed with the numbers on the scale.
How often you should weigh yourself depends on your goals and how weighing affects you. When trying to lose weight or prevent weight gain, it’s best to weigh at least once per week. This makes it easier to adjust your eating and exercise as soon as you find your weight creeping up. Some people find it more effective to weigh in 3 to 7 times per week.
If you take minor fluctuations in stride, then weighing everyday may work well for you. On the other hand, if a half pound weight gain makes you feel like giving up, weighing 1 to 3 times per week may be a better choice.
Keep in mind that your consistency and tracking may be more important than how often you weigh. If you weigh every day, weigh at the same time of day. For less frequent weigh-ins, choose the same days of the week and times of day. Also, pick one scale and stick with it since there are often discrepancies between scales.
Record the number each time you weigh and take note of how you feel. Whether you had a successful loss or a slight gain, make a few notes about your habits leading up to the weigh-in. This allows you to pinpoint little things that are contributing to success as well as barriers that are getting you off track.
Aim to develop a healthy relationship with the scale. While body weight is important, many health experts agree that it is only one indicator of overall fitness. Track your weight, but don’t allow those numbers to take control of your mood and attitude.
Restaurants have come a long way in offering healthier options, but dining out when you are trying to lose weight can still be challenging. Sometimes the problem isn't a lack of healthy options but the temptation to stray from your plan due to the environment and your peers.
Do your research.
You know how it goes when you dine out with others. People arrive and the conversations begin, leaving you little time to closely review the menu. The need to make a quick choice puts you at risk for ordering an unhealthy option, especially if others at the table are doing so. Most restaurant menus can now be found online, so take the time to research before you sit down at the table. Have an idea of 3 or 4 healthy options before you arrive. Then, if you are put in a position to make a quick decision, you can make a smart choice.
Don’t skip the appetizer.
A major goal while dining out should be to avoid eating excess food, but that doesn’t mean you should skip a course to do it. If you show up hungry and everyone else orders an appetizer, you will have to sit and wait while they begin eating. You will likely be offered a bite, and there is a good chance it won’t be a healthy choice. Satisfy your hunger and resist giving in to unhealthy choices by ordering a nutritious option like a house salad or a cup of broth-based soup. You will feel less deprived and in better control of your food choices for the entire meal.
Read the menu description.
Some menu options look healthy at first glance until you read the full description. Buzzwords, like vegetarian, gluten-free, or light, don’t automatically mean a food is more nutritious or lower in calories. Instead, look for healthy keywords like broiled, baked, and steamed. Keep an eye out for heavy sauces and excess dressing. Ask how foods are prepared. Don’t be afraid to request less butter or ask for sauces on the side. Many times, chefs are willing to accommodate. Servers can also make suggestions that fit your dietary needs better.
Much like ordering an appetizer, it can be difficult to watch everyone else eat a dessert. If you’ve saved a few calories to enjoy something sweet, split a dessert with a friend and eat a few bites, just until your sweet tooth is satisfied. If you want to steer clear of dessert altogether, turn to the drink section. A decaf espresso or hot tea will allow you to have something to enjoy so that you don’t feel completely left out of the final course.
We all have days when we feel our willpower is not enough to resist food cravings. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, make a plan for how you will handle these days. Small, but conscious changes in your daily habits will renew your strength and help you reduce the temptation to eat unhealthy foods.
Eat when you are hungry.
When you let yourself get too hungry, the need for food puts you at risk for making unhealthy choices. If you let hunger go too far, it’s easy to be tempted by the donuts in the office lounge or a bag of chips from the vending machine. If you feel hunger coming on, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to eat. Grab something healthy right away.
Don’t let hunger take you by surprise. Keep your pantry stocked with healthy snacks. Create a space at work for seeds, nuts, fresh fruits, yogurt, or fresh vegetables with hummus or bean dip. Pack individual servings of snacks at the start of every week and carry some with you at all times. When these foods are available, you’ll be less likely to grab an unhealthy option when hunger hits.
Allow for distractions.
A distraction can work wonders for reducing temptations. When you can’t seem to get your mind off an unhealthy food, change your focus. Make a phone call, deliver a message personally, or take a quick walk around the block. This allows you to revisit your goals and think twice about giving in to a temptation that will get you off track.
Move away from the serving table.
One of the best ways to resist temptation is to remove yourself from easy access to unhealthy foods. The worst place to be at a gathering is close to the food table. Mingling near the appetizers, snacks, and desserts can lead to mindless munching. Pick a seat or a place to stand that is across the room. You will enjoy the gathering just as much and will leave having eaten far fewer calories.
Purchase treats in single servings.
The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” doesn’t always work. If you know there are cookies in the pantry or ice cream in the freezer, it’s often difficult to resist when you crave something sweet. Rid yourself of the temptation and keep these foods out of the house. When you want to enjoy a treat, buy just one, not a whole box. Get one cookie from the bakery, a snack bag of chips, or a single-serve ice cream. Once you’ve enjoyed your treat, there won’t be any leftovers to tempt you later.