Have you ever wonder how you could have a nice body like people on the magazine? Or just have that six-pack that you can brag about to friends? I know you have dream of that one day when you looked amazing with an awesome six-pack and a lean body. However, you feel hopeless because you have tried everything out there that claims they can get you into shape but doesn’t work.
Or you just haven’t found any time in your busy schedule to improve your body image. It is not impossible. I will show you how to achieve your dream with my experiences in staying healthy and exercising in five steps: identifying your health, understanding your body and its limitation, disciplining your from bad habits, exercising, and balancing your lifestyle.
First, you need to identify your current health, which include body size, current strength, eating habit, sleeping pattern, and life style. Are you skinny or medium?
You are skinny if you have no fat around your belly and arms, and also have little muscles. If you have little to excessive fat around your waist and arms you are considered medium. If you are at one these two states, you are in great shape to improve you health. You don’t have to be precisely sure about your body size, for you only need to have an idea of where you are on the scale. Also, test out your strength. Are you able to do five or ten push up?
How many miles can you run in how many minutes? If you don’t know, you should find out to determine where you are on the strength levels. Next, think about the food that you eat. Are you eating homemade food or eating out? How many times are you eating in a day? Knowing what you eat and when on a daily basis can help you identify what are the causes of your current health issues such as eating McDonald daily can be the cause you to be overweight or lack of energy.
Finally, what is your schedule like in a day from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed? How many hours are you sleeping each night? A lack of sleep can cause you to make poor diet choices, hence cause you to gain weight. Even though these questions seem overwhelming, they are necessary for you to improve your health. Secondly, you need to understand your body and its limitations.
Do you have any chronicle problems such as heartburn, food allergy, etc? For me, I suffer with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS); which gives me reoccurring stomach pain and heartburn when I am sleep deprived. It prevents me from consuming diary products and greasy food, and prohibits me from exercising because of the tremendous pain. You may wonder how would understanding your limitations help you stay healthy?
First, it protects your body from suffering excessive pain and improves your mood overall for that day. Secondly and most importantly, it allows you to exercise extensively.
Besides knowing your body limitations, you should also identify your psychological habits. The psychological habits I am talking about are your motivation and level of willingness. Are you a person who feels discourage easily or are you motivated to push yourself when you did not get what you planned? If you are a person who gives up easily, you should try to give more effort in everyday’s challenge such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or waking up a bit earlier to eat make breakfast; which are small task that can improve your motivation. Lastly, you need to understand the important of sleep.
According to the article, “ Are your sleep habits making you fat, nasty, and dumb?” retrieved on February 16, 2012 from: http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/are-your-sleep-habits-making-you-fat-nasty-and-dumb/ , stated that lacking of sleep cause you to feel hungrier, crave more “high calorie-dense, high-carbohydrate” foods; and make it harder to exercise. Therefore, sleep is the number one priority to help you improve your health.
Thirdly, you should discipline yourself from bad habits. Since sleep is the most important process for you to improve your health, you need to adjust your schedule so that you can have at least seven to nine hours of sleep. Since homework may prevent you from acquiring enough sleep, you may split your sleep time into naps during the day and shorter hours at night. For example, I needed to wake up at 6:30 on Friday, however I was not able to go to sleep early on Thursday night due to late classes.
So, I began taking naps on Friday after I had lunch. I feel that it is best if you take nap at around 1:30 to 2:30 in the afternoon because your body has used up your energy in the morning. As equally important as getting enough sleep, your diet should be the second most priority. Your diet is what will determine your energy throughout the day; therefore you should split your diet into smaller and frequent meals.
For example, eating five times a day instead of three; yet each time you eat less than you would regularly eat. Most importantly, you should not skip breakfast. During your sleep, your body hibernates so it will not run out of energy to keep you alive. Once you are awake, your body will begin to burn energy like usual again; and without food in the morning, you body will work less efficiently which causes you to lose focus during exams, feeling tired all the time, etc. The third priority that you should pay attention to is what you are eating for your diet.
If you have a skinny type of body, you are most likely to have high metabolism. What is metabolism you may ask? According to the article “What is metabolism and why is it important?” by Lisa Balbach, retrieved on February 16, 2012 from http://k2.kirtland.cc.mi.us/~balbachl/meta.htm, metabolism is the amount of energy the body uses to keep itself alive. People who have more muscle to fat ratio have a higher metabolism, which means they burn energy faster.
Therefore, if you are skinny, you should consider eating food with high carbohydrate and protein such as bread, eggs, fatty meat, chicken, etc. If you have a medium size body type, you should eat more consciously such as eating food that contain less fat and consume food that are high in protein and fiber because you most likely have low metabolism. You should avoid eating fast food and sodas because they do not have valuable nutrients for your body.
The next step is exercising. It is important that you workout at least twice a week because it will help you build stronger muscles and improve your health at the same time. Cardio is the most important type of exercise for losing weight and strengthening your heart. Cardio exercises are exercises that increase your heart rate by the constant movement of the body.
Three basic types of cardio are swimming, running, and biking. Due to experience, I found that doing cardio at a constant rate yield low results in losing weight. Therefore you should do cardio in short-burst interval; which means while doing cardio at a constant rate, you should rapidly increase your speed to force your body to work harder for a short period of time then return to the constant speed.
For example, you are swimming laps at a speed of one lap per minute; then after five minutes, you increase your speed to two laps per minute for three minute then return to one lap per minute. In conjunction with cardio, you need to do basic exercises such as push-up, sit-up, and pull-up to strengthen your muscles. Push-ups can be performed by setting your hands shoulder width apart on the ground; while holding your core tight to keep your body straight from head to toe.
Then drop your torso to the floor and use your arms to push yourself back up. Sit-ups can be performed by laying on your back with your hands behind your head; while bending your knees, you pull your chin towards the ceiling using your stomach and slowly come back to the starting position. Lastly, in order to perform Push-ups, you need a bar that you can hold on, and it should be able to hold your weight. Grip on to the bar with your hands about shoulder width apart, and use your arms to pull yourself up towards the ceiling then slowly go back to the starting position.
Depending on your fitness level, you should create a routine that will best fit you using these three exercises. For example, when I first began my routine, I was only able to do two sets of ten push-ups, twenty sit-ups, and four pull-ups. However, each time I did my routine, I pushed myself to do a little more for each type of exercises; and gradually, I was able to increase my sets to five times. You may start out with low numbers of rep, or even unable to do one, but you should always try to push your body to go a little more each time. Over time you will see the results of your hard work.
Lastly, you will need to balance your new life style. Realistically, you may not be able to fit everything that I’ve mentioned above into your life style. School and work may get in the way of your goals. However, you should find ways to balance your current life and new routines. For example, if you are a person who loves to eat out and hanging out with friends late into the night, you should consider refraining from eating out too much and going out too late so you can get more sleep. If you tend to stay up to procrastinate for homework, you should plan to do your homework ahead; or do them by a little bit at a time.
If you don’t have time to make breakfast, consider waking up half an hour earlier to cook a warm breakfast. You could also prepare your breakfast from the night before and microwave it in the morning. If you have body limitations that prevent you from exercising or sleeping early, you should do research on them or go to the doctor and check. You have a lot more time than you think, so there are no excuses to condition yourself into becoming a healthier and more attractive person.
In conclusion, if you are a college student who is disappointed because you are unable to improve your health, I have shown you have to do in five steps: identifying your health, understanding your body and its limitation, disciplining your from bad habits, exercising, and balancing your lifestyle.
First, you should identify your body type, sleeping pattern, current strength, diet habit, and life style. Secondly, you should understand the importance of sleep, eating habits, a healthy diet and identify you limitations such as heartburn, food allergy, etc. It is important to know that without a sufficient amount of sleep you will not be able to exercise and make poor eating decisions.
Third, you need to practice better habits such as getting seven to nine hours of sleep everyday, eating five small meals instead of three big meals, and eat healthier foods such as eggs, chicken, high fiber, etc. Then, you should exercise at least twice a week beginning with cardio exercises such as swimming, biking, and running with short-burst intervals. In addition, you should create a routine using push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups to strengthen your muscles.
Lastly, you need to balance your school, work, and staying healthy by refraining from eating fast food, sleeping earlier, and do your homework a little bit at the time. If you are able to change your life style according to these five steps, you will be able to get that six packs and attractive body that you have been looking for.