For most of us, spring marks the beginning of training for our dream bikini bod. After hibernating on comfort food and Netflix all winter lets face it, fitness was not a top priority. March however, is a transitional month where we say goodbye to winter and hello to spring. Typically for me, getting into shape for the summer season means upping my cardio and watching what I eat and drink. However, this year I am taking on a new approach: strength training. In my own experience, I have tried restricting calories and doing lots of cardio and classes. This method allowed me to get to the number on the scale that I had dreamed of, but I still wasn't satisfied with the way that I looked. I was so confused, how could I have worked so hard to get to this goal and still not really feel like I had achieved anything. Sure I looked thinner and better in clothes, but I wasn't toned and I certainly didn't feel confident in a swimsuit. After doing some research, I learned that restricting calories and/or excess steady cardio can lead to significant muscle loss. Because of the severe calorie deficit this lifestyle creates, the body compensates by slowing down the metabolism and holding onto any fat that it can in order to survive.
Ultimately, what I learned is that muscle drives metabolism. Besides toning the body, muscles also burn calories while you rest. Therefore, the more lean muscle you have the faster your metabolism will be.
After reading all of this material, I was stunned. How could I be so stupid? I slaved away for so long, making things so hard for myself, when the answer was simple. After my own experience, I feel the need to reach out to women and encourage them to start training the right way.
Here are some tips that have helped me in my transition to strength training:
+ stop taking the number on the scale so seriously
+ stop restricting calories (aim to eat clean, unprocessed foods)
+ eat natural sources of protein (plant-based are best!)
+ stop being a food nazi - look at calories as a way to fuel the body
+ stop doing excessive cardio at a steady state - it strips the body of essential muscle that it needs and actually reduces metabolism over time
+ try strength training 3 days a week and short HIIT workouts 2 times a week
Finally, for all you girls worried that strength training will make you look like a female body builder, you are totally mistaken. Body builders spend hours at the gym, eating special high calorie diets and taking lots of supplements to build muscle.