You’re an athlete. You train hard and train often. Some days, you even work out twice. How could you possibly be gaining weight — and not the kind you want? When you’re not gaining muscle mass, something has to give…and that’s you. You have to give yourself the tools, the time and, yes, even a few treats to stay focused and on track.
You may have used a journal in your teen years to vent about your parents or brag about snagging an invite to prom. Even though you’re all grown up, it’s time to start journaling again. What you need is a food journal to track every morsel you eat. I’m not suggesting that you count calories. Simply record what you eat on a daily basis to review it at the end of the week. The objective is to identify what you’re eating and when. Then, try to pinpoint if the need to eat was physical (hunger pains) or emotional (anxiety at work). You may be eating more than you think.
Ever hit the snooze button a few too many times, because you can’t seem to get up and out of bed? You don’t need another alarm clock. Instead, caffeine could be the jump-start you need. Most of the time, a regular cup of coffee works well for me. However, non-java-drinkers can benefit from a pre-workout formula. Pre-workout supplements that feature an herbal blend offer that nice, natural energy boost.
Make time to: 1) stretch after every workout, 2) refuel and 3) rest when your body needs it. Without proper recovery, your muscles won’t be able to repair and rebuild efficiently. The less lean muscle you have, the less body fat you burn. To help change your body composition, supplement with a quality whey protein or protein/amino acid blend after your workouts. There’s one caveat: Most recovery drinks provide 300 calories — or more if you add fruit and yogurt to the mix. Only consider these quick recovery solutions if you had a strenuous training session and don’t have time for a full meal.
There’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for a job well done, but eating an entire large pizza is not a long-term prize. Sure, you’re immediately satisfied (and uncomfortably full); but you likely consumed more calories than you expended. Instead, treat yourself to non-food items. New workout gear will help keep you motivated for the next training session, because it will serve as a reminder of how you earned it. We all work for recognition, right?
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time Iron distance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, follow Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and follow Amy @AmyCMarsh.