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Schedule a Healthy Body

It all started out as a typical day in the gym. I was about 45 minutes into my workout and dripping in sweat. It was hot, I was tired and all I wanted to do was finish up my last few sets. That's when he walked over, a newcomer to the gym.

He was nervous and spoke very quietly as he asked me "the question." The same question I get asked by people all the time. "How can I look like you?"

No matter how many times I get asked that question, I have never come up with a satisfactory response. I wanted to give him good advice, but how do you put years worth of fitness information into a few simple sentences?

So I mumbled something about being consistent with his food and concentrating on form when he works out, but it just wasn't enough. As I pulled out my calendar to make some notes it struck me.

I would go through a typical 24 hours and document each of the things you should do to get in shape. Then, when someone asked, "How can I look like you?" I would have a step-by-step outline that could help them.

This is that outline.

Eat & Drink

Start the day drinking the first cup of what may end up being about a gallon of water a day. If you're dehydrated by just 1%-2% your performance will start to suffer. Don't wait until you're thirsty, keep the fluids flowing all day.

If you're not doing cardio, the next thing you should do is eat breakfast. Be picky about your meals. Make sure you're getting enough protein in every one. Generally, if you're exercising, aim for about a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day; and divide that amount between five or six meals. Then make sure and eat something every three to four hours.

Speaking of eating, If you're going to eat a large meal (500 calories or more), make sure it's 3-4 hours before exercising. Eat smaller meals (300 calories or less), 1-2 hours before exercising.

Schedule

Check your calendar and make sure you've planned time to workout. If you haven't scheduled time to exercise, it's unlikely you'll be able to fit it in.

When it's time, head to the gym and start your warm-up. It doesn't take long, 8-15 minutes and most people are ready to workout. The warm-up helps protect you from injuring yourself.

Document

Once you're warmed up, get your workout sheets and start your program. Even if you've been training for years, you should still write down every set, weight and number of reps. The previous entries help psych you up and you can document your progress over time. It's also a handy place to note any aches, pains or discomfort you might have on a particular exercise. If the problem persists, you have a record of when it started and you can make changes to fix it.

If it's been awhile, use the sheets to shake up your routine and design something new. The average person should change their routine about once every 4-6 weeks, but if you've been exercising awhile, you may need to change more frequently than that to keep your muscles stimulated and growing.

If you're trying to put on mass you should use heavier weights. Now I understand that easy is a relative term, but if you can easily pump out 10-14 reps, it's probably a good time to increase the weight.

Eat Some More

Immediately after you workout, to increase your body's natural levels of insulin, look for carbs that are high on the Glycemic Index (GI) scale. Fruit, fruit juice, sports bars, shakes and baked potatoes are all good. For that first meal after a workout, avoid the low GI foods like bran cereals, oatmeal, multigrain breads and legumes.

Skip the miracle pills, illegal potions and secret injections. Many are worthless, some are dangerous and a few could end you up in jail. Shortcuts won't give you long-term gains.

Prepare for Tomorrow

To make sure you're ready for the next day, plan ahead. Life is hectic and it can be difficult to eat so many healthy meals every day. Instead of leaving it to chance, prepare your food the night before. If you're going to travel far, pack everything in an insulated bag to keep it fresh.

Sleep

Finally when your day is over, head to bed. Your body grows while it's resting, not when you're tearing muscle down in the gym, so make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. You have to make sure and get enough rest so you can get up in the morning and do it all over again!

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

11/18/2007