Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823
By Matt Luksic, Bellefonte YMCA - Wellness Director
Accountability: The Key to Achieving Your Fitness Goals
It’s Saturday night, and there’s live music playing at a restaurant in Bellefonte. It’s decision making time – sit in front of the TV or head out with some friends for a good time. You know the safe choice but let’s be honest, the music rocks and so do the drinks. You ask yourself, is there any logical reason to not go out and just completely let yourself go tonight? In your mind you are able to justify the indulgent night out with friends and write it off to “you deserve this”, or something of the sort, as is always the case.
Three thousand calories later, the night is winding down and you are yet again disappointed with your lack of discipline and restraint. Pizza? Wings? Drinks? (You know you didn’t have just one). What were you thinking? After busting your butt all week (whenever & wherever you were able to fit in your workout) and doing your best to eat well, what’s left is a fading flashback of what you were two days ago: a sled pushing, bench pressing, plank holding, burpee champion. Your self-propelled motivation, which burned like an Olympic torch on Monday is now reminiscent of a wet match, as you are destined to spend yet another week on the seemingly never ending carousel of fitness frustration.
The sobering reality of this scenario is that it describes my weekend decision-making process just like you. I’m Matt Luksic and I’m the Health & Wellness Director at the Bellefonte YMCA with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Penn State, currently working on a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion. As a member of the Bellefonte community, I want to use my knowledge and experience to help others change their thinking when it comes to their personal health and fitness. It’s about time that we learn from our past mistakes and start investing in a happier, healthier future.
So, now that we’ve met, let’s get to the blatant truth. Absolutely no one wants to spend the rest of their days hanging out somewhere between the maintenance and regression phases of personal health and fitness. We live in a world where mainstream low-carb diets and 21-day fixes are the so-called “solution” to all of our problems. A world where every convenience store and gas station is stocked with as much sugar within five feet of the cash register as a Willy Wonka movie.
Oh how it would be so easy and convenient to use these gimmicks and temptations as an excuse to pull back and let our potential disintegrate right before our eyes. Well, I say no. We’re not out of this fight because our health and happiness is at stake.
Let’s start by building a foundation. Here are my essential keys to the first and most important step in building a happy and fit lifestyle: Accountability.
One: Be Realistic
If your implementation of a fitness regimen isn’t realistic, then it won’t be around for very long. Being fit, becoming fit, working towards becoming fit, is a lifestyle. It is not a four-week all or nothing diet that promises six pack abs and a lifetime of happiness.
Time investment is key when committing to changing your life for the better. You need to understand that this is not going to be short and easy, but it certainly doesn’t need to be long and grueling. It’s about making small and consistent changes for long-term results. Here are my guidelines for starting a health and fitness program that will have the best opportunity for long-term success.
Two: Eat Smart
You are the only person who controls what goes into your body, period. Although having success developing a healthy and fit lifestyle may seem very complex, at the end of the day it comes down to one thing. Calories Consumed - Calories Burned = Results (or lack thereof). This means that your nutrition plays a role that consumes at least 50% of the puzzle. However, I would say that the importance of nutrition is closer to 60%-70% of the puzzle. The reason for this is because of the effect that nutrition plays in not only fueling your workouts each day, but also in fueling your functional daily living.
Food is fuel. The quality of that fuel will determine the capacity to which your body is running. You wouldn’t go to a gas station and fill up your tank with watered down gas thinking that it’s going to get you very far. So, don’t fill your body with empty calories that will add to your daily caloric intake, but won’t benefit you by providing quality fuel for physical activity and daily living.
So, here is the revised version of our equation:
Quality Calories Consumed – Calories Burned = Results
Now let’s talk about burning calories. You see your friends posting their workouts and achievements on social media and maybe you’re doing the same, but is what we are doing in the gym even really worth the time we’re are putting in? My guess, probably not.
No matter the type of workout you are performing or goal you may have in mind, there is only one thing that matters. EFFICIENCY. What I am talking about is a relationship between the time that you are investing in the workout and the intensity to which the workout is being performed. In other words, working hard doesn’t always mean working the longest. It means working the smartest.
As an example, I am going to use the two most common training methods, geared towards achieving the two most common fitness goals. Cardio for weight loss and strength training for muscle growth and strength.
In order to maximize efficiency during a cardio workout for weight loss, the goal would be to elevate your heart rate to the target heart rate range for maximum weight loss potential. This heart rate range is about 65%-85% of your maximum heart rate.
Here is the formula for calculating maximum heart rate:
220 – Age = Max HR
For example, here is the target heart rate range for a 35 year old during a cardio workout.
220 – 35 = 185 bpm (Max HR)
185 x .65 = 120 bpm (Low Range)
185 x .85 = 157 bpm (High Range)
Target heart rate range: 120 – 157 bpm
2: Muscle Building
Now, on to our sample client whose goal is for muscle growth/strength. It’s important to understand that on a very basic level, the overall goal for each workout is literally to tear as many muscle fibers as possible. These are microscopic tears and are the reason for our muscle soreness in the days following an intense strength workout.
In order to maximize muscle fiber “tearing”, the goal is to do each strength training exercise until failure between 8-12 repetitions per set. What I mean by “failure” is, while assuming safe and proper form, one must choose a weight that will cause them to fail, and not be able to perform another rep somewhere within the 8-12 rep range.
The other extremely important factor in this process is the pace of each repetition. What most people don’t know is that the majority of muscle fibers are torn during the “eccentric phase”, of the repetition. The eccentric phase is the part of the rep where the resistance is being lowered after being lifted.
So, Live the Lifestyle
If we are to successfully develop a happier, healthier future, it is essential that we incorporate a fitness regimen into our “lifestyle”. With 24/7/365 consistency, and an understanding that we will not be perfect during this journey, we can overcome all obstacles.
Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready to remain accountable to yourself? Then work hard and smart and reach your goals.
If you need a teacher, a trainer and some motivation to achieve a happier and healthier future, stop in at the Bellefonte YMCA and ask for me. I’d love to be a part of your success story.
Matt Luksic BS, PES, GFS
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