How often should I work out?

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One of the fitness world’s million dollar questions: how often should I work out? Research across the industry varies, and you’ll find different answers for different workouts like weight training, cardio and aerobic activity, or bodyweight workouts, on how many times per week you should endeavor in each.

Hmmm, where could you possibly go to work out that encompasses all of this?

Fitness experts recommend anywhere from two to six workouts per week. Sources saying you should work out twice per week are the same that recommend that whole grains and pasta make up the highest percentage of your diet. Why do Americans look and feel the way they do? I just don’t understand.

There is one common theme pretty much everywhere you look: the amount of time you devote to working out depends on what your goals are.

If you are overweight, deconditioned, or new to exercising you should consider planning for a workout schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or, alternatively, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Think one day on, one day off, and repeat this cycle.

Having a routine and sticking to it, even when times are tough, is what is going to transform you to the “new and improved you.” Don’t leave your health to chance, commit to it.

Once your body’s recovery process has improved, and you can handle a higher workload, look to keeping a rotation of going to the gym on back-to-back days, then taking one day of rest.

For competitive athletes the CrossFit main site recommends three days on, one day off. This works well for workout volume and proper rest.

For any of the aforementioned routines, this snip-it from CrossFit Impulse, sums it up pretty well. “If your body is getting the nutrients it needs to perform tissue repair and fuel your workouts then you can train more often. If you eat poorly then you will inevitably train less often or with less intensity, and will require more rest when you are done. Your body also won’t get as full a benefit from the workout because you haven’t supplied it with the tools to fully adapt to the stress you provided during the workout.”

Above all listen to your body. Work through soreness and fatigue. Beware of working through pain, especially acute pain.

Train often enough to reach your fitness goals, but not too much that you overtrain or develop overuse injuries.

A goal for all of us should be to do something active for at least thirty minutes per day (stretch, hike, bike, swim, sports games, mobility, yoga, etc.).

Your body is made to move, not to sit on the couch!

Meal Plan for Success

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Eating a healthy diet can be a hassle. It tests your patience, commitment to eating well, and your ability to budget.

First, you have to find recipes that appeal to you. Then you have to make a grocery list of all the ingredients in the meals you plan to cook. After this, it’s off to the store to buy ingredients. Then you come home and spend up to a few hours cooking your food. Once your meals are prepared, you have to grab a sponge and clean up your mess.

Two days later, it’s time to begin this whole song and dance again. Sweet!

You might even end up scrapping the whole cooking idea and order your meals instead. This is not a budget friendly option.

Of course it would be easier and cheaper to hit up the dollar menu of different fast food restaurants all week. It’s quick and requires no planning or clean up on your part. But like spending all your free time sitting on the couch watching TV, this is not a sensible option.

Approach meal planning like your time at the gym. Commit, commit, commit.

Every week I look at my schedule and commit to five days that I plan on going to the gym. I give myself room to make one change in the event of an unforeseen event, but that’s it.

Do the same with your meal planning. Sit down on a day that works for you and plan out your meals for the week. Plan your meals for six days of the week, this gives you one wildcard day on the weekend to eat what and where you please. Break the week up into two, three-day chunks, with a trip to the grocery store in the middle. If two trips to the store isn’t an option for you, choose one day to head to the store to buy your food for the week.

Another option is to set yourself up on a meal plan like they offer at Origin Meals to get you through the week.

Keep it simple to set yourself up for success.

How to Make the Paleo Diet Work for You

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It is no secret that fads in the diet world come and go on a regular basis. While the paleo diet has certainly been labeled as such, what provides faith that this movement is not just a flash in the pan is its continually updated recommendations based on the latest research findings.

In fact, many of the biggest names in the paleo world actually seem to be less concerned with us eating as our ancestors did, and more so with us following what is going to allow us to live the healthiest lives possible – even if it goes against what they’ve advised in the past.

Case in point, Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser. For a long time the “rules” of the diet were simple: to thrive, and live a life free of disease you should be eating a diet consisting of only vegetables, fruits, meat, and some nuts and seeds.

While the basic principals of the diet remain unchanged, as further studies have been completed, researchers have found that, in some cases, we’ve actually adapted to tolerating some of the foods that were originally thought to be unhealthy.

What complicates things is that it’s not the same for everyone, and you might not know that a specific food has a negative impact on your health if you’ve never tried going without it for a while.

Your Personal Paleo Code outlines not only a process for figuring out what foods best suit you, but also explains why.

Whether you’ve been on the fence about giving the paleo diet a shot, or you’ve been following it for a while, I guarantee you will find this book a helpful read.

Check out the Personal Paleo Code website for more info on the book.