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Fit For Life: 6 Ways You Might Be Overdoing It

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Are you overcompensating? Going the extra mile may be doing you more harm than good.

My biggest philosophy and approach is to keep it simple. There is so much confusion in the fitness industry, and so many good–and bad–pieces of advice and theories. Here are some quotes I hear from people on a regular basis, and my responses to them. With proper training technique and guidance based on research, education, and a whole lot of common sense, you can have a workout program that is holistic for your body, healthy for you, and will accomplish your long-term goals. It will become a way of life, not a dreaded “have to” that you begin finding ways to avoid, and not a compulsion that you “must do” and overdo.

“I do hundreds of crunches every day.”

Rarely do I have clients do crunches because when you flex and bend something repeatedly on the same plane, it will get weaker and eventually break. It's not good for the spine or the posterior spinal stabilizers. It also creates an imbalance by making the rectus abdominal stronger than the spinal stabilizers. And thinking “simply” again, how functional is it to move repeatedly within such a short range of motion?

“I'm going on a no-carb diet.”

I don’t subscribe to this method for weight loss or general health. Based on research that your brain and muscles function on glycogen, I feel that eliminating all carbohydrates puts you at a disadvantage for endurance and muscle recovery. This is especially true after a workout and when your glucose levels are low. I do, however, believe in limiting your carbs to quality sources, such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and legumes. These carbs are fibrous carbs, and are much lower on the glycemic index than processed grains.

“I need to lose weight before I start lifting.”

Doing that would actually slow down the process of weight loss. Here’s why: strength training speeds your metabolism. While lifting weights you burn calories by contracting your muscles. Lean muscle tissue burns more calories at rest. Thus by lifting weights you are burning calories while performing the activity which leads to muscle mass which leads to a faster metabolism.

“I had an egg white omelet.”

But you threw away the part of the egg with the most nutrients. An organic, free-range egg is loaded with beneficial fats and proteins and other healthy compounds such as Vitamin D and numerous amino acids. The whole egg is also considered an anti-inflammation food. The white by itself contains about 3 grams of protein and the yolk has 4 grams of protein. So you are throwing away more than half the nutritional value for the money you spend on good quality eggs. Eat the yolks–you won't get fat–and they taste great.

“I had a great workout, got sick, and can't walk today.”

I was talking to someone the other day and this is what he said to me–really? This is not an indication of a great workout. Going to the gym, running, cycling or whatever activities you do, you are doing to promote health and fitness. Throwing up after a workout doesn't seem healthy to me. Tearing your body down to the point where you can't walk the next day or are in severe pain isn’t the right fit for life approach, either. I train myself and my clients hard but not to the point of being incapacitated for two days or vomiting. I want you to feel mobile and invigorated after a workout. You will sweat, shake, and be out of breath, but never in debilitating pain or sick.

“I work out and I do cardio every day.”

To all you workout folks that are having trouble attaining your goals, just step back and reassess your situation. It doesn't have to be difficult. You don’t need to work out and do cardio every day. You don’t even need to join a gym. And let’s talk about rest–real rest–rest that rejuvenates the body–rest your body cannot do its best work without–stay tuned for my column next week on rest–and, as always, if you have a question for me, leave it on my Facebook page or comment here, below.


Matt Espeut has worked as a personal trainer for almost 20 years with clients ranging in age from 14 to 86. His focus is on overall health, strength, and functional conditioning. Holistic health and nutrition is the cornerstone of all his programs. Matt works in private and small group training available at your home or office location or at gym facilities. Matt offers his services to everyone wanting to be more fit and healthy, overweight young people, youth/collegiate athletes, and seniors. Matt has worked and continues to train at several facilities in the Providence area including Gold's Gym and CORE Studio, and he believes continued education is a must in his field. Email Matt: [email protected], check out his website at www.fitnessprofiles.net or on Facebook at Matt Espeut or on Twitter @MattEspeut.


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