New year, new you. Right? At the start of each new year, many of us resolve to finally get in shape. But often, we’ve abandoned our fitness resolutions by February. Fitness trainer Raven Holloway of Wellness Worx in Hoover, AL, shares some of her essential tips and tricks of the trade to help you keep your wellness goals on track.
1. Your trainer should not be your #bodygoals.
Don’t let social media mislead you. Signing up for your favorite fitness influencer’s weight loss program doesn’t mean you will have the exact figure she’s flaunting in her Instagram Reels. “A huge misconception is that you’re going to look like the trainer who’s training you,” Raven says.
While diet and exercise can help you transform your body, genetics still play a role in how you look. “What folks have to understand is that our bodies are made different, and they are beautiful in their own way,” Raven says. If you think your trainer is judging you for your appearance, think again, and remember that even fitness professionals had a starting point. “I didn’t wake up like this,” Raven says. “It required a lot of hard work. But more importantly, it requires consistency.”
And while your trainer is there to help you be more consistent, Raven doesn’t think you should solely rely on your trainer for encouragement and support. “I am not the savior,” Raven says. “I want to be sure people know this work is not about me. I’m just a facilitator of it.”
Raven recommends having an accountability partner (who is not your trainer) to help you stick with your fitness goals. “It’s so important to have a community and people who are going to support your journey,” Raven says. “And now that you have insight, you bring your community into a part of the journey. Now we’re all getting healthy together.”
2. Fitness is a long-term investment.
Too often, Raven sees clients give up on exercise because they’re not seeing the results they want fast enough. “Transformation won’t happen overnight,” Raven says. You must be willing to make a lifetime commitment to fitness. “One thing people have to conceptualize is that if you hand me $200, you’re not going to get a product back instantly. It’s not like when you go to Walmart, and you hand them $200, and they say, ‘OK, here’s your TV.’” In other words, you can’t Cash App your trainer and get abs in the mail. You must do the work, and you must be consistent.
3. Your favorite workout probably won’t help you reach your fitness goals.
If you love going for 30-minute walks five days a week, that’s great. In fact, you’re hitting the weekly activity recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But you’ll have to do more if you want to change your body. “You’ve got to shock your body,” Raven says. She goes on to explain that when you do the same workout every day, muscle memory kicks in, and your body gets used to your exercise regimen. If we want to change our bodies, we must change our workouts. “Just cardio alone is not going to get you to your ultimate goal,” Raven says. One way you can shock your body is by adding strength training.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends doing strength training at least twice weekly. Shocking your body doesn’t mean you have to do something absurdly intense or something that you’ll dread. Nor does it mean you need to ditch your favorite form of movement. “I love to start off with what they’re comfortable with,” Raven says, “because I think a lot of times if we push people beyond their comfort zone too fast, then they’re ready to quit.”
Instead, slowly increase the duration and intensity of your workout. You could, for example, grab a couple of dumbbells to take with you on your walk. Or if you walk for two miles, try to go for five. Trust that your trainer will know when and how to kick things up a notch. “I know when it’s time to move from the eight-pound weight to the 10 and from the 10 to the 15,” Raven says.
4. Yes, women need strength training too.
Many of Raven’s female clients shy away from strength training, fearing that lifting weights will cause them to bulk up. But you don’t have to choose between fitness and femininity. “You have the capacity to do strength training and not look buffed but extremely feminine and beautiful because that’s how your body is shaped,” Raven says.
Strength training should be a part of everyone’s exercise regimen, regardless of gender. “We have areas of our body that need to be challenged by weights and lifting,” Raven says. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends doing strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
Strength training can help you lose and manage weight by increasing your metabolism and burning more calories. Furthermore, strength training can increase bone density and decrease your risk for osteoporosis, boost your mood and mental health, protect your joints from injury, and enhance your overall quality of life by improving your ability to do everyday activities.
5. Fitness is an inside job.
Diet and exercise alone won’t be enough to help you achieve your fitness goals and see true and lasting results. “Transformation takes place on the inside before you ever see something on the outside,” says Raven. “You have to shift your mind.”
The necessary mindset shift includes accepting that you won’t see results overnight. It would be best if you also ditched negative self-talk. “It’s about telling yourself I can, instead of I can’t; I will, instead of I won’t,” Raven explains. When starting a wellness journey, you may struggle with believing in yourself. If you’ve been eating not-so-healthy foods all your life and have had a sedentary lifestyle, you may think that getting fit is impossible. “Who you are is not based on what you’ve done,” Raven says, explaining that the person who made unhealthy choices in the past is not your true self. “That person on the inside, who desires to make health and wellness a lifestyle and a priority — that’s really who you are,” she says.
6. Meditation may be the missing ingredient.
Raven, a certified yoga and meditation coach, includes yoga and meditation in the fitness regimen for each of her clients. A 2017 review of existing studies found that mindfulness meditation can help change eating habits, which then helps with weight loss. Furthermore, studies also show that dieters practicing mindfulness are more likely to keep off weight.
But for Raven, the benefits of meditation go beyond numbers on a scale. “All of this garbage, all the stuff that society has told you about your body — meditation allows you to uproot all of that,” she says. Raven believes mediation helps you get in touch with your true self. “Once you realize who you are, you’ll know why you’re doing what you’re doing,” she says. “And it won’t be so superficial. It won’t be about what you saw on TV. It won’t be about what you want to look like. It will be, “I’m a divine creation, and I want to take care of my temple.”
7. For proper recovery, think beyond rest day.
You probably already know you shouldn’t work out every muscle group daily. Rest days are essential for preventing burnout and reducing the risk of injury. But Raven believes proper recovery is about more than a rest day.
Firstly, genuine recovery requires adequate sleep. “We’re like a computer,” Raven says. “We have to allow ourselves time enough to shut down.” Like a computer, Raven believes we can run out of storage too. “What that computer and our bodies are saying is something’s got to go because I’m carrying too much.”
Take inventory of your life to figure out what needs to be discarded so you can be a healthier version of yourself.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2023!
All photography courtesy of Raven Holloway of Wellness Worx.
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