An interview with Alicia Erlandson, Assistant manager, personal trainer
Wellmark blue cross and blue shield Well for Life Center
Working out regularly but not seeing results? If you want to trim down, tone up or just feel more fit, you’ll likely need to put in more effort.
It’s easy to get into a groove when your exercise routine becomes more pleasant, and you’re not grunting, groaning or sweating. But to be effective, exercise needs an element of challenge.
“The number one mistake people make when it comes to exercise is doing the same thing, day after day,” says Alicia Erlandson, personal trainer and assistant manager at the Well for Life Center at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“You can’t take a leisurely walk every day and expect results,” says Erlandson. “It will give you a basic level of fitness, which is good, but it won’t take you to the next level, which would require an increase in speed, or adding intervals or an incline. The same is true with yoga, running, weight lifting or any type of cardio. You’ve got to surprise those muscles with something new to grow into.”
“There’s nothing wrong with moderate exercise. In fact, I’ve always believed that the most effective workout is the one you’ll do for the long haul,” says Erlandson. “But, doing the same thing, day after day, will not yield results. So it’s great to have that familiar go-to exercise, but regularly challenge yourself with something else.”
Try a new class, incorporate interval training into your walks or runs, or add cardio to your strength training.
1. Step away from the scale. It will be your friend one day, your enemy the next. Don’t let your health or self-image be at the mercy of your weight on any given day. Go ahead and weigh yourself every once in a while, but it’s far better to focus on lost inches, fitting into those jeans or just feeling better overall.
2. Set a goal. Start small with simple, attainable goals that you can meet within 2-3 weeks. For example, you may want to run farther or faster, or lift a heavier weight. Work your way to bigger, long-term goals. Find someone – a friend or a trainer – to hold you accountable.
3. Eating too little or too much. Many people eat little to nothing before a workout. Others use food as a reward for a workout, or overeat later in the day. The best approach is to give your body the nutrition it needs throughout the day. Also, avoid sabotaging your workout with sugary “energy” drinks or calorie-dense protein bars.
4. Warm up before, stretch after. A lot happens during a warm up – your body is waking up so that blood flow increases and you can use energy and oxygen more efficiently. Always ease slowly into your exercise. After your workout, stretching for a few minutes is more effective than it may seem – it will help keep your muscles from tightening up while helping to improve their strength.
5. Even camels need water. Yet many humans deprive themselves of this simple, yet effective drink. Work your way up to eight cups a day. If you’re working out and sweating, you’re going to need more. Drink water before, throughout and after your workout.
6. Quality over quantity. When it comes to strength training, you want steady control as you lift and lower your weights. If you’re racing through reps, your weights are likely too light. If you’re letting momentum or gravity play a role in your lifting, it’s likely your weights are too heavy, and you’re risking injury. You want a bit of strain on about the last three reps, says Erlandson.
7. Move, even when you’re not working out. A 30-minute power walk over your lunch hour does not mean you can be sedentary the rest of your day. Humans are meant to move. At the very least, get up every hour and walk around, or stand instead of sit. Pace the floor while you’re on the phone. Sit on an exercise ball at the computer. Think about getting movement throughout your day.
If you want to pick up the pace of your walk or run, find interval training routines at Wellmark.com/Blue.