By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer
There are so many different things that can add up to the success or demise of your fitness progress. Whether you’re moving in the right direction or not isn’t only about training and nutrition plan.
Your progress is made up of, well, everything that you do and everything that is done to you. In other words, all of your internal and external stressors and nurturers make up your internal environment (health, wellness) and external appearance (fitness, physique).
BLAMING X WHEN IT MIGHT BE X, Y AND Z
Too often people think that if they start doing one thing different, everything will change. Let’s look at a few different statements I’ve heard clients make over the years addressing one factor:
If I just start doing crunches 3x’s per week, I’ll have rock hard abs by summer, right?
Should I start taking a fat-burner to speed up my fat-burning process? It’ll help me get skinny, right?
I want to lose 15 pounds. I’m thinking about trying the keto diet.
Are any of these statements true? 🤔 Maybe all of them are, or maybe none of them are. There is not enough information to make a sound determination of what factors need to be added or taken away in order to achieve these goals. You would need a lot more information about what they are currently doing, such as:
• What does your current nutrition program look like?
• What has your nutrition been over the last 3-6 months?
• What does your strength training program consist of and how long have you been on it?
• Are you doing any cardio and, if so, what type, how long and how many times per week?
• Are you consistent?
• How many hours of sleep do you get at night?
• How many hours do you sit during the day?
• Do you have a stressful job or family situation?
• Do you have any allergies, dietary issues, hormonal imbalances or any other health issues?
Let’s take the opposite approach to the same thought process:
My pants don’t fit anymore, it must be the carbs.
If I stop doing cardio, I’ll blow up like a balloon and get out of shape.”
I’m not gaining any muscle, I must need to increase my protein.
Again, are any of these statements true? Possibly. But are they true statements just by themselves? Probably not. If you aren’t gaining muscle simply increasing your protein may not be the only factor. You may need to lift heavier, decrease your reps, have longer rest periods, decrease or eliminate your cardio, get more sleep at night, increase your overall daily caloric intake, increase your carbohydrate intake and increase your protein ratios.
One of the most common areas I see people placing blame these days is their energy level. 🔋 I’ll give you an example. I have primarily followed a ketogenic diet over the last 6+ years with a few spurts of incorporating carbs back in here and there. I recently participated in the Nicole Wilkins BUILD Transformation Challenge and went from consuming about 30g of carbs per day to 240g on training days and 150g on non-training days as part of the meal plan protocol.
The first week my energy level and strength was great! 🏋️♀️ The second week, however, I was tired and my strength was down. Was it the carbs? I highly doubt it. I brought home a 10-week-old puppy a week after the Challenge began and wasn’t able to sleep solid through the night for about 2.5 weeks out of the 5 weeks of the Challenge. On top of that, I travelled for five days in week four, and week five of the challenge was adjusting back to life after a hard five days of traveling.
It would be irresponsible of me to be able to assess my performance during the Challenge and determine how my body and mind adjusted from a keto diet to a very high carb diet since there were so many other factors outside of my normal routine that affected my strength.
POINTING AN ACCURATE FINGER
All too often people irresponsibly point fingers at variables and “demonize” them, labeling them as bad (coffee, dietary fat, salt, red meat, egg yolks, carbohydrates, alcohol, etc).
Someone at the nPower Fitness Camp (Clarks Summit, PA) asked me how I was doing and feeling switching from keto to high carb diet. I explained to her that I really couldn’t give an accurate answer because in order to know exactly how my body and mind were responding to the increase in carbs only, all other factors would have to be exactly the same, or as close to the same as possible.
To be more specific, if I were to conduct an accurate experiment to determine how my focus, energy, strength and performance was affected by keto vs. high carbs, I would ideally want to have all identical factors in both scenarios, only changing the nutrition.
• Conduct the same workouts in the Challenge at the same time on the same days for 5 weeks on a keto diet.
• Conduct the same workouts in the Challenge at the same time on the same days for 5 weeks on the Challenge diet/meal plans.
• Keep water intake and any extra supplementation intake exactly the same for the two experiments.
• Monitor my sleep and stress levels to account for any discrepancies over the course of the two experiments.
• Take into account any minor additional variable changes, such as when a menstrual cycle may occur over the course of the two experiments.
KEEP THIS MIND
Here are 3 things to remember:
1. The Big Picture Don’t just focus on one thing when determining what might be working or not working towards your success. Look at the big picture, and look at everything that you’re doing and everything that is going on that could be a factor. 👀
2. Seek External Advice
You may lack the expertise and knowledge to determine what could be causing a plateau or preventing you from reaching your goals. Get an extra set of expert eyes to help pinpoint what changes might need to be made in order for you to move forward on your fitness journey.
3. Keep An Open Mind I’m sure by now you have read a number of health and fitness articles that say one thing, then you’ll read or hear something that says the exact opposite. Keep an open mind, don’t believe everything you read or hear, and test things out for yourself. You never know how something might affect you unless you try it out for yourself. Just keep in mind that other factors that might be contributing to what you experience.
I absolutely loved the BUILD Challenge, despite my own challenges with the new puppy and traveling that affected me for pretty much all but week one of the program. The biggest thing I realized regarding the change in macro ratios is that there are too many factors that contribute to a “good workout” or a “good week” on your fitness program, and thus affecting your progress and reaching your goals. Be careful to not point a finger at one thing, or attribute your progress or lack thereof to only one factor. Your success is dependent on everything that you do (or don’t do) both short-term and long-term. 💪
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.