Truly healthy or truly fit? It means different things to different people and seldom does it mean the same thing. As a Pilates and yoga teacher I see a lot of bodies and field a lot of questions ranging from dieting and detoxing to weight training and cardio. Unfortunately, everybody’s body responds differently to different types of workouts and different diets. This can make it tricky to give advice. However, hope is not lost; the answers lie within. The questions I focus on are about diet, frequency of exercise, and variations of exercises.
Regarding diet, everybody can more or less give you a yea or nay whether they’re doing the things they need to do to maintain a healthy weight, a consistent caloric intake, and if they’re eating whole foods or processed foods. Also, depending on your goals you’ll need to dial into a regimen that will support your needs. For example, an increase in protein for improved strength and muscle growth, an increase in vegetables and overall lighter eating for weight loss, and a stricter intake of grains and breads if you’re looking to increase your endurance.
When it comes to frequency of exercise you get a similar answer and these two factors can get you two-thirds of the way there. That leaves one question – variation of exercise – which can be a hard question to answer, mainly because it takes a lot of time and effort to find out what works for a particular body type. The factors to consider are overall strength, flexibility and endurance.
I see a lot of bodies/body types, and the healthiest people have a consistent diet of foods that work for their body type and goals. They work out just about every day, but when it comes to what they do, they have diverse routines. If you were to only run – a great way to lose fat – it may cause stiffness and, if not carefully treated, stress fractures and joint damage; the same with lifting weights. And if you just work on flexibility you could quickly lack endurance and miss out on maintaining body strength. Not only that, but the body can quickly plateau by doing the same exercises or routines.
Because everybody is unique and responds differently to different foods, different levels of activity, variation in exercises and rest, it isn’t impossible to figure out what will work for you, but it might take some time. You need to find what types of cardio exercises are good for your body and then mix it up week to week; maybe mixing up running, spinning and plyometrics. When it comes to strength you need to find out whether you should be lifting weights, doing Pilates, or resistance training. And lastly, flexibility. Consider taking yoga, or getting body work or taking SOMA System classes to help the body stretch and release.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s path is different and that progress is the most important thing to focus on and to not be discouraged along the way. It can take years sometimes to discover what works for you. And one day, as you continue to test and refine your routine, you’ll wake up feeling better than usual, looking better than usual, and knowing that the proof is in the pudding (except you probably didn’t eat pudding!). You’ll know you worked hard, you ate right, and that you’re constantly challenging your body!
A career playing tennis combined with weight and endurance training from a young age led Antonio Aniello to turn to yoga and Pilates in college as part of addressing injuries and the wear and tear of years of competitive sports. After college Antonio recognized how much damage he had done to his body through training, and how much better off he was because of yoga and Pilates, and continued to practice both. After a short stint playing a handful of Satellite ATP tennis tournaments and a few years working a desk job, Antonio returned to what was always in his heart and was able, and fortunate enough, to start teaching Pilates and yoga as a career. He has never looked back. For more on Antonio’s story, click here. Also, look for opportunities to practice with Antonio by finding him on Facebook at Antonio Aniello Pilates.