What does that mean? The difference between exercising and training is simple. Exercise is just moving your body. But training is moving your body with a distinct goal in mind, a Purpose. Now I know many of you may say, “Well I ‘exercise’ so I can lose weight. Isn’t that enough?” Unfortunately, no. If your goal is weight loss, then you should train your body by tracking and measuring your progress that leads to weight loss. But simply exercising, or spinning your wheels, will not help you in the long run. In fact, it can make you worse and even derail your ability to lose body fat. But there are answers. Read on…
I had a patient come in to see me recently who had been exercising very diligently for several months with a personal trainer at least three times a week and even doing low intensity cardio a couple times a week on her own. Her diet was improving, even though it could have been better. And a review of her blood work showed significant improvement due to the hormonal and thyroid support and other natural-based medications she was prescribed by me. But her weight, and more specifically her body fat percentage, had not budged. In fact, we performed a very specific clinical test called a Resting Metabolic Rate test using indirect calorimetry. This machine measures oxygen consumption and provides a very exact measurement of your metabolism and calorie consumption. Her test result showed a -31%, which is extremely slow. Normal is at least greater than -10%, and optimal would be greater than -5%. So her ability to burn body fat was very poor, despite all the exercise she was doing. But it was the way she was exercising that was causing the problem. In part, the addition of the low intensity cardio, as suggested by her trainer, was part of the problem. Low intensity cardio actually lowers the metabolic rate over time. But even her regular weight training routine was part of the problem because she was essentially only going through the motions and was not tracking her progress and seeking to improve the numbers.
This very diligent patient was working out with three different “trainers”. But the routines she was doing were essentially the same. She never wrote anything down, or they never wrote down anything for her. She never knew the exact weight she was using or the reps and therefore had no way of really knowing if she was progressing and enhancing her strength, stamina, and performance. She would repeat the same basic movements at different exercise sessions and simply go through the motions, even though it was somewhat hard for her. But, she was still stuck. And, aside from her desire to lose body fat, there was no real end goal or trackable progress with her efforts in the gym. The result of this routine in the long run was a lowered metabolism and a poor ability to lose body fat.
The side effect of improved performance and athletic ability, at ANY level, is increased muscle tone, shape, and mass, and decreased body fat with improved aesthetics. These are the typical goals of most people, particularly my patients, who want to “exercise”. Unfortunately, most personal trainers out there are really not training their clients, they are standing there while their client is exercising. In the short run, this may be enough. If someone is very “untrained” then almost any type of exercise movement will yield initial results. But after a month or so, the body will quickly adapt and people plateau. I have seen this with my patients countless times. I have personally experienced it myself. And plateaus can not be skirted around, they need to be crushed. This is done through training with a goal.
You need to focus on “the goal.” This starts with creating a goal. Be specific. What do you want, exactly? Let’s say it is getting into a certain dress size. That’s a reasonable goal. What will it take to get there? Exercise by itself will not be enough. You will need to train. You will need to seek to improve your strength, stamina, and athletic performance each and every time you step into the gym. And the only way this is done is to measure it and track it on a daily basis.
Exercising with the same basic movements and routines, with no definitive goal in mind, no real tracking of what you are doing, will not yield long term results. It is the proverbial “hamster running in the wheel.” You just keep going and going, the body adapts, and you stay the same.
Fitness goals can come in all shapes and sizes. And by the way, anyone can be athletic. We just need to think like an athlete. Athletes want to progress in their sport of choice. Maybe your sport is Life and Looking Good! Either way, you will need to set a goal and track your progress to excel in your Life and Looking Good Sport.
Where Do I Go From Here?
I encourage you to find a personal trainer that you can trust will keep performance goals in mind throughout your time with them. At The Hormone Zone, we provide several personal trainer options all over the Valley for our patients so you can get the best fit for you, for both men and women, from beginner to the more serious athlete. If you have any questions, please call us at 480.338.8070 and ask and one of our staff members who can guide you towards the best fit for you.
If you are on your own, then be sure to write everything down. Have a definitive goal in mind and track your progress as carefully as possible. Then seek to always improve your performance. People get stuck on their “routine” and never think to change it. Don’t just spin your wheels!
Finally, do you know your metabolic rate? Is it too slow to lose weight? At The Hormone Zone, we offer patients the ability to find out their metabolic rate and direct solutions for improving it through hormonal and thyroid balance, optimal nutrition, and of course, effective training!