Friday, April 13, 2012

What to do when you are 30 plus lost weight initially while working out but have now reached a plateau?

A person I know since many years and who regularly reads our posts and views our training videos has suggested that I write on this topic.  Fitness training is a subject where I could talk for hours together on any particular aspect and yet there will be so much left to discuss. I hope that I am able to do justice to this topic by writing a small article on it and the article is actually helpful. However If any clarifications or more detailed understanding on this topic is required do feel free to contact me personally.

 Fitness training is a science but often is misinterpreted and many times even wrongly represented. I would like to cover this particular subject by first talking of the ideal food habits, then moving to how one should workout and the possible reasons or ways you can get over the plateau in the weight loss or toning process that you may have reached.  

To get healthy and fit you do not need to diet or totally exhaust your body. I am totally against dieting in any form, it can only cause more harm to your body. What you should ideally do is not diet but slowly curb your wrong eating habits and maintain a well balanced nutritious diet. I have seen numerous people who have wrong notions of healthy eating and end up literally consuming tasteless boiled foods. If you do not feel good or enjoy what you eat your body will not benefit from it too. Eat food that you like, let food be tasty and enjoyable but make sure it is well balanced, healthy and nutritious. There are numerous health foods that you can eat besides the regular meals eg - amla, oats, horse gram, ragi, jowar, fruits, salad vegetables, aloevera, sprouts and the list can go on and on but trying to consume all of them may result in you only eating them and totally avoiding your normal diet. This is very wrong, I suggest you make a list of such health foods and pair them up. Now consume 1 pair of the health foods for say 1week or 15days as your snack and keep changing the pairs every week or 15days. This way you will consume all of them in rotation and yet maintain a well balanced normal diet. Many times people make excuses like - I am very busy to cook daily or Cooking is a big task or after a whole day of work I did rather order food than enter the kitchen. It does not take long to cook up a healthy meal, I personally train and have lots of classes through out the day but if you plan your meals in the mind it does not take me more than 10 - 15 minutes to cook up a healthy meal. I do not wish to sound biased due to my years of training in oriental martial arts but I personally feel oriental cuisine and their cooking methods are very good. Oriental cuisine is either stir fried (with very little oil as they use a wok), steamed or in the form of a nutritious soup. These cooking methods are very healthy they do not over cook the vegetables or meat. Overcooking or excessive boiling of any food causes it to lose its nutritive value. These cooking methods are the main reason oriental foods are very rich in natural flavors as you can taste the natural flavor of every vegetable mixed in the dish.
Coming to binging on certain foods. It is natural to have a liking for certain foods for eg - some have a sweet tooth. I do not suggest you completely deprive yourself of the foods you tend to overeat however I suggest you moderate it. In my opinion the best way to tackle this is to allow yourself to controlled binging. This means that you allow yourself to eat what you like either a little daily or eat it once a week and then control or curb the consumption till the next week. Over a period of time you can reduce the quantity of consumption as well as its frequency. Another aspect which you could monitor is the consumption of food in relation to your workout or lifestyle. This does not mean that if have not gone to the gym today you do not eat food. What it implies is that make sure your diet is adequate to your workout and lifestyle needs. I have seen many people who suddenly get bitten by the fitness bug, they train like a professional athlete as well as reduce their food intake. Yes they may get results but at the cost of ruining their health in the long run. I feel sad to say this but this is even followed by some fitness professionals or trainers themselves. You can make out such people by simple observations of their sickly pale looking face and skin or the hair  or the nails also give out signs of under nourishment. What is the use of looking lean and being unhealthy or under nourished.

Moving to the training aspect. To begin with I would like to mention that if you are 30 plus and have just started with fitness training GO SLOW. Do not strain yourself. Many trainers have this habit of starting people of with high cardio in my opinion that is wrong especially for people who are new to exercising. Start gradually and slowly over a period of time increase the intensity without straining the body. Lets face it if you do not train wisely when you are 30 plus you are at a higher risk of injuring your joints or muscle structure. Better be safe than sorry. If you train under an experienced person you could be totally unfit and the trainer can over a period of time safely take you from having difficulty to run 300 meters to running 10km. Plan your fitness goals a step at a time. Can you jump from the 1st  step directly to the 10th step? Well even if you can you will most likely slip and fall so just be patient and climb a step at a time. 

Now let us suppose you have started working out ( it can be any form of workout eg - weights, yoga, martial arts or any game) and it has been say a few months or even a year, you did loose weight initially but now you have just reached a plateau and can not see any change. Well this is common there is nothing to worry about. When you start working out your body suddenly starts exerting or burning more calories and the food intake remains the same as you did before you started working out ( if you do not follow some fad diet plan ). This is the reason when ever we start any workout in the first few months every thing seems fine as the weight loss takes place, inches reduce, people comment on the visible change. Then suddenly it slows down and comes to a stop. You get anxious sometimes you even train harder or further cut down your food intake but results seem like a mirage. Let us now look at how the process works or how you can beat the plateau phase. Once we start working out (without dieting) over a period of time the body sub consciously begins to consume more food to meet the energy levels of the workout. The best example here could be professional sportsmen have rigorous training and a very good diet to meet their needs but when they retire most of them do not cut down their food intake and that is a simple reason why professional sportsmen tend to get overweight or out of shape once they retire. Coming back to the topic I do not suggest reducing your food intake when you reach a plateau, however I suggest you get smarter than your body. Well it is simple  ask anyone who is prone to colds if they are consuming a brand of syrup after a few months that syrup does not work anymore for them they need to change the syrup. Why does this happen? Well simply because the body gets used to it , it builds a resistance to it and so you need to change it. Similarly the same workout over a long period of time makes the body get used to it, the body is comfortable with it even if you increase the intensity it does not trouble the body much. You need to ideally change your workout routine every few months to keep the pressure on the body to get results. Martial arts training is probably the only workout that the body can never get too comfortable with because the training possibilities and combinations are numerous so the body always stays challenged. In the last few years all have started talking about circuit training and endurance training or crossfit workouts. Well these are workouts inspired or taken from martial art training drills and regimen. These workouts are very good as the body is challenged with varied type of exercises and it can surely get rid of the plateau phase. However a word of caution since circuit training or endurance training or crossfit workouts are high intensity and many times even high on the cardio quotient it is very important that you have a very good experienced trainer. The trainer needs to moderate, alter and design a workout keeping your fitness level,  your endurance level, your age and numerous other aspects in mind. I am always ready to help and teach upcoming trainers but I avoid sharing my knowledge with trainers who just wish to take a few lessons from me and go about training others like they are experts in that field. This is very harmful to the people they train. Half baked knowledge is like a barber giving a blade to a monkey. I personally keep making new exercise combinations some look really crazy and funny but before I make anyone do them I try them out on my own self  for a week or two. This gives me an idea of the exercise and the possible wrong movements or aches that could occur. 
I suggest that vary your workout. If you have been going to the gym for quite some time now. Stop going daily may be just go to the gym once or twice a week and take up some other form of workout for the other days. Change is what will keep you challenged. Sometimes even a change in trainer is a change. Every person has his own way of seeing things, has his own likes and dislikes. So unless the trainer is very flexible and has well rounded knowledge the chances are no matter how much he may alter your workout it would be more inclined to an aspect of training he personally likes or believes to be best or is just comfortable with. There are so many options and variations available explore them under trained guidance. A simple ab workout can be altered and combined to form easily over 100 - 200 variations. It is such variations of workout that keep the body challenged and you interested in the workout. Some people say that to bring change they have started playing badminton or some other game. That is a good idea but a game challenges the body only when it is played competitively or when you play with someone who is better than you. When you play a game with someone who is equally matched or not as good as you in the game then your body does not feel challenged so you may get a good workout and get fitter but the results you are looking for may still elude you. Play with people who are better than you, they will make you really earn every point of the game. Do not push yourself beyond the threshold that your body can recover from. Many times the plateau phase continues to prolong because people over train or exhaust themselves beyond the point the body can recoup from within a day. Then they repeat the same thing the next day and the day after that and so on. This puts a lot of strain on the body as it never gets enough time to completely recover from the previous workout session and new pressure is added to the body. This is also a reason why some people are stuck in the plateau phase because the body is always running in negative. This is something that could cause lots of harm in the long run in the form of joint or muscle related injuries. Be realistic you wish to train to get fit, loose fat and look toned and lean so do not go about training like a professional athlete unless you have invested a lot of time to training and improving your fitness and endurance levels.  

I could go on and on but I think for a basic level understanding what has been written above should be enough to guide you to overcome your plateau phase. Exercise wisely, be realistic, embrace change in your workout and am sure the results will speak for themselves. If you would like a personalized workout plan or personal workout monitoring you can get in touch with me for that. 
                                              Happy Training!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Self - Defense workshop for Dr. Reddy's - Division - Zenura 2 at Puri - April 2012

The above video is formed by joining few basic training videos from the workshop. It is always enjoyable to teach or train people when they are actively participating. We trained in various self defense techniques from attacks like slap, hand grab, over head knife attack and so on. 

Whenever I conduct workshops I consider it a success and effective when from a group of say 40 participants at the workshop if even 2 of them after the workshop take up some form of fitness routine or any game seriously on a daily basis. 

Health is the treasure that we have but if not looked after then it will make it very difficult for us to enjoy any of our so called materialistic treasures or gains. Train to maintain your good health and improve your fitness levels. It is the best investment we can make for ourselves.