Fergie said, “I be up in the gym, just workin’ on my fitness.” (1:28 mark) 8 years ago and I still love that song! I think the word is often misused which confuses a lot of people (myself included).
So what is Fitness?
Simple, right? When I started working out in 2012:
I used 2.5 and 5-pound weights during my strength routine.
I couldn’t run without feeling like I was going to DIE!
Walking 3 miles (5K) sounded like the work of the devil.
I had to take my inhaler before doing anything.
Fast forward to today:
Even though I haven’t run in months*, I was able to run 3-4 minutes on the treadmill before I felt like death.
I even started working on running outside**. I was up to 1-minute at least!
I currently use 5-pound and 8-pound weights (I was up to 10-pounds at the gym***) during strength routines.
I DON’T NEED MY INHALER BEFORE MOST WORKOUTS!
I increased my ability to perform physical activity. I improved my fitness!
What fitness is NOT…
Fitness is about what your body can do. Fitness is NOT about how your body looks. However, changes in your physical appearance are an effect of improving your fitness.
Let’s say Person A is 300 pounds and runs a 5k in 45 minutes.
Let’s say Person B is 150 pounds and runs a 5k in 90 minutes.
Who is more fit? Who has a higher level of fitness?
*plays Jeopardy music*
If you said Person A, you’re correct! Yay! If you said Person B, trust me, there are plenty of overweight folks who can run circles around a lot of the skinny people folks tend to assume are more fit.
Fitness has nothing to do with your size.
How do I measure fitness?
There are tons of apps that’ll give you things like time, distance, calories burned, etc. My favorite while walking (outdoors) was the free Pedometer app. But I personally like using a heart rate monitor (HRM) along with a tracking app and my own body.
HRMs vary as far as accuracy but the general function is to measure your heart rate (along with user entered weight, height, and gender) in order to give you your calories burned. I use this one. Tracking apps allow you to track what you’re eating as well as how you’re moving. I used MyFitnessPal (and a Couch to 5K app).
The best (in my opinion) is sing your own body! Are your workouts getting easier? How often do you need to up the intensity? Are you burning fewer calories that before? Can you run faster/jump higher/last longer? These are all signs that you’re improving your fitness. HRMs and apps just make it a little easier to keep track of the changes.
What’s so great about fitness?
Much like clean eating, being physically fit can have your body feeling (and maybe even looking) like Beyonce.
In two years, I went from, “WHY JESUS! OXYGEN! JESUS BRING MY OXYGEN!” straight on over to, “Excuse me but me, Beyonce, Prince and Jesus will be swag surfing until bedtime.” If swag surfing with Jesus, Prince and Beyonce hasn’t sold you, maybe science will!
Cardiovascular exercises make the heart and lungs work harder which means they’ll work better over time. I don’t need my inhaler as much anymore because my heart and lungs are in better shape! It’s easier to breathe which means it’s easier to work harder…which means more weight loss and muscle gain.
Also, when you’re heart and lungs are in great shape, you reducing your risk of heart and lung-related illnesses. My heart and lungs are in this thang and they ain’t ret to go!
Strength (weight) training builds the strength in your muscles. I’m able to use heavier weights and support my own body weight much better because my muscles are stronger. Stronger muscles mean it’s easier to work them which burns more calories…which means more weight loss. Stronger, more efficient muscles also means you can burn calories when you’re not even working out! Look at the Lord’s work!
Metaphors. I got ’em. You’ve probably heard, “Muscle is more dense than fat.” Most people think that means muscle is heavier than fat. That’s not exactly true.
Let’s say it’s winter (-_-) and I want to keep warm. Both scarves provide the same amount of heat but which one is more efficient (stronger)? The blue striped scarf is more efficient at providing heat because I need less of it to keep me warm.
Let’s take a closer look.
See the difference in the the construction of the scarves? It requires more effort to create and maintain the tightly woven bundles of the blue striped scarf****. Muscle is a more efficient calorie burner because your body burns more calories creating and maintaining muscle than it does to create and maintain fat. More muscle means more calories burned. This is why I appear to be smaller than I was at the same weight in the past. I have more muscle than fat. I’m living that blue striped scarf life!
What’s not so great?
I’m not going to lie. It’ll be hard. You’ll be sweaty. You’ll have some pain. You’ll have to peel yourself off the couch.
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But look at the bright side. You spend around an hour going hard in the paint and then you can go about your couch potatoing. Or is that just me? Finest couch potato EVA! *picks fro* 🙂
So how will I lose weight?
With cardio. Yes, strength training helps you burn calories longer BUT cardio targets fat.
With strength training. When I was 20 (2005), I ate better, then started going to the gym, and eventually started strength training. In 2012, I strength trained from the beginning. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
With good dietary habits. I don’t diet. I found what combinations of foods work for my body (see What is Clean Eating?) so I’m properly fueled for my workouts. You cannot out work bad eating habits (trust me, I wish you could).
With excitement. There are literally hundreds of machines, routines, classes and DVDs at your fingertips. I love walking (outside). Walking isn’t the most intense workout but it’s relaxing and calorie burning. It’s also a great leg, butt and ab toner (cardio and strength together)! Try different things until you find what you like.
With no worries. If you don’t workout today, don’t worry. Just do it tomorrow. I plan to workout everyday. I know I won’t but if I plan to do it, I’ll more than likely get my 4-5 workouts in each week.
I hope that helped clear things up! Were there any misconceptions you had about what fitness is? If so, what were they? How have they changed? Let me know in the comments!
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*I canceled my gym membership a few months ago. I workout at home now!
**I can’t run outside because winter -_-
***My home gym includes 2, 5, and 8-pound weights at home. As well as a stability ball and aerobic stepper.
****Also look at how the gray scarf is thin and doesn’t really lay flat against the surface. Excess fat is kind of the same. It’s just there, hanging out. Look at the blue striped scarf. It’s laying smoothly against the surface but it’s thick and structured like muscle. We need fat in certain areas, especially as women. Beyonce’s booty is a combination of fat and muscle. They work together to make her move (and look) like Praise God!