Equinox personal trainer Caty Pasternak transformed herself from an obese teenager, losing 115lbs to become an acclaimed fitness professional whom now makes over the bodies and lives of people across the New York metropolitan area. Aside from training at Equinox, Caty also runs her own private training company, Coaching by Caty. Here she shares some tips to help you get you to your best body ever this New Year.
—Kirk Myers, Health and Fitness Editor, DOWNTOWN Magazine NYC
It’s no secret that most New Year’s resolutions include some type of body composition and/or weight loss initiative. Whether weight has always been an issue or maybe just indulging in one too many slices of pie during the holiday season…there is a universal desire to get into shape.
While setting fitness-related resolutions goals is great, the truth of the matter is, most people only stick to their resolutions for the first month of the New Year. Lack of motivation, time constraints, impatience to see results, or even laziness can all steer people from the gym right back to the couch.
Make this year different. Caty Pasternak shares some excellent tips to help you begin and most importantly, sustain a weight loss plan for the New Year.
Fail to plan, plan to fail: In order to succeed in anything, you must have a systematic and progressive plan to reach your goal. The same goes with weight loss. Everyday people come into the gym performing the same workout routine they have been doing for decades, discouraged by the lack of results. How can you expect your body to change if you don’t give it a reason to change? You must always challenge yourself, whether it’s adding more weights, volume, intensity, etc. Change your routine and your body will be forced to adapt to the new stimulus! Write out a 2-week workout plan for yourself and perform it to the best of your ability. If you still feel challenged by it, add some more weight to the exercises. If you feel you’re not as challenged, write out a new routine. Even if it’s substituting 1-2 exercises, change something so your body will change, too!
Track your progress: Another reason resolutions fail to come into fruition is due to their unrealistic nature. You didn’t gain 30 lbs in a week, how can you expect to lose it in a week? While it takes time and dedication to reach your goals, you must consider creating micro goals to keep you focused. If your resolution is to lose 50 lbs, set a monthly goal to lose 5-7lbs. Aside from the number on the scale, another great way to track progress is by taking front and back pictures of yourself. Don’t worry, these pictures are for your eyes only, but even if the scale doesn’t change drastically, you will be able to see progress perhaps by noticing your rear end being a little perkier or your arms a little more defined! Seeing even the slightest changes visually can be more motivating to push yourself harder than a number on the scale.
Find your time: Every morning people drag themselves into the gym before work and struggle through a pitiful workout session, just to say they got their workout in. On the contrary, others slug in after work, too tired to even change into their gym clothes. Find out what time works best for YOU. We are all individuals with different responses to exercise. For three days in a row, go to the gym at three different times. One in the morning, one during your lunch break, and one after work. See which one you feel strongest in and stick to it!
Motivating Music: The sound of clanking weights and heavy breathing is surprisingly not the most motivating workout soundtrack. While the majority of people use their iPods during their workout session, most of their playlists haven’t been updated since that Bruce Springsteen album was released. Take the time to download your favorite upbeat tunes to give you the extra, unexpected pump you need!
Lift Heavier Weights: Would you believe me if I told you Victoria’s Secret models do limited amounts of cardio and actually deadlift and squat heavy weight? Well, it’s true! Despite what you may think about strength training weights do NOT make women bulky, cupcakes make women bulky! The only way you will gain massive muscle is if you eat upwards of 2,000+ calories a day. Women have maybe a tenth of the testosterone men do, making it nearly impossible to gain mass. What will happen when you lift weights? You will build lean muscle, which will give you the toned and defined look you’ve always wanted. What happens when you do too much cardio is you become “skinny fat” with no shape. Weight training will build the lean, sexy curves you desire. Aside from this, weight training also speeds up your metabolism and burns 3x the amount of calories that cardio does.
Use Cardio Wisely: While weight training should be the main focus of your workout routine, cardio should be used a supplemental tool. Perform your lifting session first, as in this is where you need the bulk of your energy. Then, you can perform cardio afterwards. However, instead of going on one machine for 30 minutes at a steady-state, utilize a high-intensity-interval training style. Whether this refers to sprint-training on the treadmill or simply altering resistance levels on a Stairmaster or arc trainer, just push yourself for one minute, then recover one minute, and continue. Not only will you burn more calories during your session, you will have a much higher post-burn affect than steady-state cardio.
Keep a Food Diary: The idea of keeping track of your calories is certainly not a new revelation in the weight-loss world. However, our tech-savvy environment has made it easier than ever to lose weight. Applications for your Smartphone such as My Fitness Pal are extremely user-friendly and even allow you to scan barcodes to enter in calories. While the application calculates your total caloric intake, it also provides you with each food’s macronutrient breakdown (protein, carbs, and fats), which is even more important. Society has an altered idea that carbs are the enemy, when in reality, an excess in any macronutrient will cause weight gain. During an effective, strength training and fat loss program, you should up your protein intake to as much as 1g per lb. bodyweight and have healthy fats accumulate 25% of your diet. The bulk of your carbohydrates should be taken in before and after your workout, when they are needed most.
WORK out: They call it a WORK out for a reason. If you are not mentally and physically engaged while you are in the gym, do not waste your efforts. Make the most of the time you have in the gym and push yourself to the limit. If you do not push your body, your body will have no reason to adapt. Another thing to consider, especially during weight training, is maintaining a mind-to-muscle connection, as in truly connecting your mind to the muscles you are using during a set. For example, when you are performing a squat, when you are in the lowered position, mentally note that you should contract your glutes and quadriceps to lift yourself up.
Check your form: This is the best tip of all, that for some reason, most people do not want to acknowledge. Whether it is an issue of pride or pure ignorance, most people do not see the need to have their form checked during exercises, when in fact 80% of people are performing exercises incorrectly. This does not mean you must invest in personal training, simply ask a trainer working the gym floor or an experienced lifter to check your form for you. This will prevent a lot of injury and improve the effectiveness of your resistance training.
For more tips on getting fit and information on personal training with Caty Pasternak, visit her website www.CoachingbyCaty.com to create your healthy and fit new year.