I am a beginner… where do I start?

I train a lot because I love it, it relaxes me, and I want my body to be functioning properly until I die. Yes, we don’t think about it enough but this body you have is going to be yours to the grave so you might want to keep it healthy.

For a lot of reasons, many people don’t work out, they don’t even move enough during the day (thank you, sedentary lifestyle). I can only imagine how hard it is to look at the magazines and social media with crazy physiques people and athletes and think only “pfff why bother”.

Well first of all, you need to think about your health. I am sure you want to be able to move properly and not have pain everywhere in a couple of years. Working out is not about having abs but more importantly a strong muscle and bones structure, strength and mobility.

Take this as an investment in yourself. You do it for you and your well-being. You deserve it and you are worth it. At the beginning you will need a few minutes to start working out and two weeks to get used to it.

So, what’s in it for you:

  • Decrease of the risks of getting chronic diseases
  • Improvement of your mood and mental health
  • Increase of your daily energy, sleep quality and LIBIDO
  • Slowing of the aging process, boost of your cerebral activity and improvement of your microbiome

The frequency:

  • Strength training: at least twice a week, weightlifting for the biggest muscular groups
  • Cardio: 75 minutes of intense cardio activity (you do them the way you want) combined with 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity

My personal recommendation with the cardio: doesn’t start too hard too long on your first trials or you will just get sick.

Start for example with 20 minutes of HIIT running or on a bike or 15 minutes of a jumping rope.

  • Flexibility and mobility: we don’t mention these enough, but this is extremely important for your daily comfort. These are exercises just with your body that you can do in the morning and at night in front of TV.

I use a lot of yoga, stretching moves and animal flows (thanks Youtube).

I am sure your first question will be “what’s the better way to lose weight?”. When you are a beginner any kind of exercise is good so pick what’s the easiest for you and stick to it. There is always room to make things longer and more complicated after.

What you really need to do to lose weight is to be in a caloric deficit (eat less than you consume). Health is in the kitchen first so you might want to start with a journal of all what you eat in a day to realize what is your real food intake and then make the adjustments.

Another personal advice (yes, I have a lot): give yourself a goal that you can actually reach! Most of the time we fail to maintain our routine and stick to it because we want to do too much too fast. If you never exercised and want to train for a hall marathon you are going to be so disgusted that you will probably never run again.

So, find something that you really want and can do (walk 15 minutes per day or just have more energy to play with your kids at the end of the day).

Once you start, just focus on what your trainings are for the week and keep track of what you do! Use an app or just wright down what you did this week so you can actually see your progress.

The next week you try to push a little harder and make it better.

The success is to be able to find a routine that you will actually keep doing and not give up after a couple of weeks because it’s too demanding.

Very important point you have to keep in my mind (I say that and it’s ironic because I am bad at it): be patient. You are going to fail, feel bad, want to quiet, some exercises are going to feel harder than you expected, you are going to skip trainings or have bad ones. It’s inevitable and you have to accept it.

The key is to have a plan B for each situation so you are prepared and can move on:

  1. If you are already tired when you wake up then don’t work out, have good healthy food during your day and just go for a walk in the nature at the end of the day.
  2. You feel too stressed or unmotivated? Just rest and have a good night sleep.
  3. You didn’t train for a couple of days/weeks? Find out the why and what strategies you can put in place.

Before starting your new training routine, you better want to see your doctor if it’s been a while, just to check if everything is alright.

Again, don’t beat up yourself or you won’t last and don’t give up either when you are sored (it means you are doing well).

If you can I recommend that you hire a trainer but if you can’t, PLEASE try to educate yourself with free videos on Youtube about the proper execution of the movements you need to do. It’s unpleasant to get hurt just after getting started.

Let’s get started and share your first experience !

Women should lift weights

I am sure I am like a vaste majority of women: not that long ago I didn’t wanted to lift heavy weights at all. I was afraid to look like an ugly muscular dude and thought that to be strong and toned I had to do a lot of cardio. During four years I went to the swimming pool for an hour 3 to 4 times a week, then I have been running 8 to 10 kilometers a day for more than two years.

One day I had a great conversation with one of the trainers of my gym that convinced me to train with weights. It took me a couple of days to make up my mind. And then I thought, why not, I don’t get the results I want with the method I am using. So I better change something and I I don’t like the results I will just stop it.

I have learned some interesting facts with time that helped me keep my motivation and finally get me where I am today.

First of all, a woman body isn’t capable of naturally build big muscles like men can. Why? Because female bodies don’t have the testosterone levels necessary to increase quickly and strongly an important muscles mass. Small recall: testosterone is the basic male hormone, it’s a natural anabolic steroid.

So you have not really a biological excuse to refuse lifting: it will give you more tonus and strength. Don’t be afraid you will look like a bodybuilder only if you take steroids drugs, which doesn’t happens for most of us. If like me, you spend time on social medias and see a lot of fitness girls and boys with really sharped muscles, don’t be naïve: the majority of them take supplements, otherwise they wouldn’t have this figure.

If you really want to look like them, you can seek for professional help and ask your trainer which kind of proteins supplements you can take. Personally the only supplements I take are BCAAs and vegetal protein powders, it’s enough for my practice.

I won’t either talk about steroids (and most of the people who take them never do) because we step into a bigger medical issues: steroids have long term serious problems for your health.

How to proceed now ? You can plan several cardio sessions during your week but don’t focus on that! Cardio training is a very efficient way to maintain your body endurance but it’s not a way to sharp your muscles . Keep in mind that if you want to burn a hamburger, you will have to run 3 times a week 3 times, hard and fast. That’s not a lot!

Don’t skip it but to have more results, associate it with some strenght workouts for your all body (please don’t go just to train your butt).

It exists several ways to try it. You can use only your body weight or machines and weights. A lot of your muscles will be in action and work hard if you do properly the movements. The repetition of the movement will produce the secretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones are super important: they stick to the receptors at the surface of the fat cells and they trigger the liberation of the fat.

Some of these cells are more difficult to move from others: the receptors block the liberation of the fat. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is concrete on women on the hips, the bottom and the thighs (for men, it’s more on the abdominal zone).

Lift weights will have a direct impact on your body: it will produce testosterone and growth hormones (they help the protein assimilation and so the muscle growth).

If you regularly lift weights and you do it seriously, your body will be consuming more fat so it’s the ideal moment to do your cardio training session. It will increase the efficiency of the exercises done before. In the medium term, your body will produce hormones and your muscle mass will grow (it’s at that time that you will put on 1 or 2 kilos).

Think about what you really want because if you do your cardio training before you lift, your muscles won’t grow.

What’s the good new? Because of lifting your will increase your basal metabolism rate: you will consume calories even when you won’t be exercising. When it rest, a kilo of muscles consumes about 80 calories a day.

I was very enthusiastic at the beginning but it took me a while to accept and like the results. Why? Because I have always been really thin and when I started it, my muscles grew and I put on weight (your muscles weight more than your fat). I wanted to be more tonic and strong but during weeks I was confused about putting on weight. It took me a while to accept it.

Now that I am doing it regularly, I just love the physical and mental results. I am stronger, I have more resistance, I have learned a lot about my trainings, I am proud of myself and I feel more feminine. I love my muscles and wouldn’t go back !

Of course, it’s a matter of taste but if you never tried it, I encourage you to do so.

If you do it regularly and are helped by a professional, you will feel and see the results after a few weeks and you will see, it’s addictive.

Mistakes to avoid after a workout

You just finished your workout ? Great, I am proud that you went through with it ! But did you know that to be healthy there are certain things to do before and especially AFTER ?

Things that you should avoid doing ?

Yeaaaah I know, it’s not enough to exercize to be healthy, that would be too easy. If you want to optimize your trainings and keep a healthy mindset in the long term, you have to adapt your strategy .

So here are various elements you should really be careful about after your session :

  • Drink water ! Most of us we don’t drink enough of it during the day and the lack of hydratation can be really dangerous when you train. Our body composition is in majority composed by water, when you exercize you sweat so you lose more water. You have to keep drinking after your workout even if you don’t feel really thirsty.

 

  • Eat unhealthy food : I don’t know how many times I have heard people leaving the gym saying « let’s go have sushis or burger ; I trained so hard, I deserve this ». Okey I understand you want to reward yourself it’s human. But let’s make it clear here, only professional athletes can eat whatever they want because they spend HOURS EVERY DAY training as hard as they can. That is not our case ; if you systematically eat unhealthy foods, your workouts are going to be completely useless and you will give up, disappointed by the absence of results. You can indulge once in a while but if you really want results, after your workout stick to fibers, good proteins and a bit of carbs to fill up your energy stocks and build your muscles.

 

  • Skipping the streching : this part is as much as important as your warm up. You reduce the risk of injury and allow your muscles to get recover faster. If you are bothered by the longer time of your session I suggest that you reduce the number of series or rest time. Because it’s crucial to include at least 10 minutes of warm up and 5 minutes (or more) of streching when you are done.

 

  • Leaving the place like a mess : I am so annoyed by the people that leave weights everywhere at the gym and don’t pick it up. In particular guys that leave heavy weights everywhere that I can’t move. I have bruises on my legs all the time because I step on it. It’s like people don’t care if it’s not at their home. Anyway, it doesn’t matter if you train at the gym or at home, leave the place nice and clean, respect the trainers and the others members.

 

  • Be a potato couch for the rest of the day : okey, you trained, you can be proud of yourself. But it’s not a reason to be inactive until tomorrow. Keep moving as much as you can. Our body is made to be moving all day, not sitting at your desk or in you car. Move as much as you can during the rest of the day. It will keep your metabolism running.

 

  • Not sharing your journey ! This one can sound stupid but believe me, when you start taking pictures and videos, publishing and sharing with people, you become more accountable. It provokes good reactions around you and keeps you motivated. You don’t have to take the same selfies endlessly but don’t be shy and show your work !

Running with the heat

I know what I speak of !

I used to run a lot when I lived in Spain, I tought it was the hardest thing to do… before I moved to Miami !

Now I can say running in Miami is the hardest kind of running I ever had to do. Especially during the summer, the heat and the humidity are brutal. Just to walk 12 minutes to my supermarket gets me super sweaty.

I tried several hours to run aside the beach, what works better for me it’s really early in the morning or really late at night. The temperature doesn’t really go down but at least the sun is beating less !

Usually I go really early in the morning and I hold on for maximum 25 minutes.

It’s the best I can do with this heat and I am proud of it !

First you have to know why it’s « technically » harder to run when it’s more than 30° outside : you are basically asking your body to do an « extra » work than usual and it’s a pressure on the cardio-vascular system. The more it is hot outside the more you body temperature is going to rise : you pulse is going to over the top and you are going to break a big sweat.

Here are some tips to make it easier for you :

  1. The first days you are trying this, go slowly and don’t try to run 5 kilometers or during an hour straight ! Go step by step and increase the intensity a little every day.
  2. Watch your heart pulse. It’s naturally higher when it’s hot and you are not working out. So once again, the first times you are running, keep an eye on it and if you feel your pulse is going way too fast, slow down and walk.
  3. As I mentionned it, run early in the morning or later at night. It’s a little bit like when you want to get tanned : not between 10 am and 4 pm. It’s the worst time to do it, it’s too hot, you are going to damage more your skin, your eyes, your cardio-vascular system… and not enjoy the run at all.
  4. Adapt your run : if you are used to run on a certain road, try to find one with more shadow and wind, close to a river or the sea. Don’tgo for a big hill with nothing around. You will get less bored ! And if the heat is really too strong, you can go to your gym and run some HIIT on the treadmill.
  5. Pick the right equipment : I know we all want to look sexy when we work out now. But maybe this lycra tight crop top is not the best option to run outside. Pick up larger coton clothes with clear colors so it doesn’t attract the sun. Pick a hat and good sunglasses.
  6. Talking previously about tanning : I am going to talk like my mom but put your sunscreen before you leave home ! I saw there are a lot of creams for runners now, they will protect you even if you sweat !
  7. When you run and it’s hot, the body sweat to try to reduce its temperature so you lose a lot of good minerals like magnesium and iron. To prevent this loss DRINK WATER, before and during your run ; slowly with small slawlows. Don’t forget to drink also the rest of the day ; hydration is something we miss a lot. Diversify your intake with tea or fruits juices.
  8. Even if you are not running you should always watch your hydratation and the balance of your nutrients. When you work out, don’t forget your snacks : bananas, apricots or oats snacks.
  9. You really wanted to try, you have been running for a couple of minutes, your head hurt, you feel dizzy and your mouth is dry ? Stop it and leave it fo another day. There is no need to hurt yourself. Give yourself a rest and if you really want to work out, go to a local gym with air conditioning or to swim !
  10. Latest and obvious point : if running with the heat is really not your thing then grab a bike or go a class ! Don’t get stuck in something that is not working for you. You have to enjoy it otherwise you will give up. There are many options to exercise alone or with people !

Feel free to share any other tips or experiences!

Fitness stars

As I said in a previous article, I fell hard for the « fitness » discipline but not for the good reasons. To me, it was just another way to work on a physique I was never happy about.

I had the perfect answer for my family and closed friends, worried about my anorexic past : it’s a healthy sport, I have to eat whole foods, drink plenty of water, and sleep at least 8 hours a day. What’s not healthy on that ?

Well it is super simple, it’s not healthy in the way that you can quickly only care about your image and base your self worth on the way you look.

You get into it even more when you create your social media accounts and you follow only the members of this community. It’s the day to day race for the hashtags, the pic progresses.

Even if everybody say we do it for health, we certainly do it more the image. It’s a race where you win if you have the « perfect » shape implied by the industry.

And for women it’s a battle that seems impossible to reach according to our natural body composition. If you follow fitness successful gurus you will notice that most of them have gone under surgery and a lot of competitors are taking drugs to achieve and maintain their physique.

There is nothing wrong about getting breats implants, I know a lot of women that have done it and they don’t practice sport. That’s not the problem.

The issue is when you have a 23 years old bikini athlete that sells supposed customized trainings programs and meals plans, saying « if you do my challenge you will get my body », when you clearly see that she doesn’t only eat chicken and brocoli.

It’s a marketing lie. But hey, it works and it makes a lot of people have incredible successful lives. I myself spend money on following programs of a few of this fitgirls. I never received the supposed support and customed plans they sold.

For months I have felt bad because I was trying to reduce a gap between what my body was and the image I had cristallized in my head : a feminine women body with muscles and a very low body fat percentage.

From what I have experienced with online and one on one trainers, is that a lot of these supposed professionals are frauds. They don’t use personalized meals plans and training plans. They don’t sell you a product because its good but because they have a contract with the brand. They use photoshop, drugs to stay lean, surgeries, etc…

I had to admit I will never have a body like theirs because I didn’t have the financial power to do so, neither the will power. And it’s okay. Because we need a bit of everything to make a world.

I tried for a couple of months to create a routine on my own but it wasn’t working very well because I had nobody to be accountable to and that’s a very important aspect. So when I arrived in Canada I hired a personal trainer and for the first time in two years I had a clic.

Because I had a professional experienced woman who explained to me what was possible and not according to my situation.

She said to me it was FORBIDDEN for me to go on a bikini competition due to my recent anorexic past, it would be a too dangerous process for my mental health. Aspect totally denied by my previous trainers who wanted me to go to compete quickly. She gave me scientific explainations about my body reactions and took me on a slow but steady process to improve my skills on a long term run.

If you are in Montreal area I highly recommend you to go to work with Emilie Provencher : a tittled athlete with experience, an accomplished business women with a family !

It took me a lot of followwing and unfollowing on social media to find my models.

Instagram is a dangerous tool when you don’t have a strong mind and positive image of your body.

Most of the women I follow now are moms, their take care of their bodies but also their families and their business. And with the time I have come to realize these women are way stronger and inspiring because they are doing a lot of things of their life, not only getting in shape for a photoshoot to sell the new slimming product for the summer.

They don’t just lift weight they do yoga, medidation, they run, they do calisthenics, they have charity projects, they work on their mindset, they write.

What I also like about them that they try, they fail and they teach us.

So if you have Instagram and are looking for a healthy inspiration I recommend you these accounts :

Emilie Provencher

Chontel Duncan

Sophie Guidolin

Shona Vertue

Valentina Lequeux

Lindsay Camerik (Lind Slaay)

Kelsey Wells

Morgan Tyler

Anna Victoria

My “sports” practice

When I was a teenager I was really not good at any sort of physical activity and I hated it. My parents made me practice music and dance, but sports, nope. When I was in school I was avoiding as much as I could exercise: I was feeling stupid, clumsy and didn’t wanted to sweat. I started to swim by myself when I was 17 because I didn’t like any other physical activity and being in the water is one the things I enjoy the most in my life.

In London the swimming pool was expensive and far from home, so I started running in the park next door because it was free. It took me 6 months to start to enjoy it. The first times I ran, I was with my ex-boyfriend and I cried, I swear I cried because it was so hard, and I was feeling ashamed of my level. It’s been a pain in the ass process but without more money on my account I had to get better at it.

Which led me in a year to run between 8 and 10 kilometers per day, 6 times a week when I was in Spain. I also bought a bycicle home to do some cycling in front of the tv and started a Pilates class twice a week.

I learned a lot about the resistance abilities of my body but in a stupid way and for stupid reasons. I also hurt myself a lot, had no idea about the importance of rest and recovery.

When I got back to France, I had to slow down the intensity and amounts of my workouts. The purpose was to gain weight progressively but most importantly to learn how to enjoy exercize and not use it as a punishment to myself.

I started to go to the swimming pool again, run less and started some indoor fitness group classes.

The gym was a weird and scary place to me. I felt I was the only one not knowing how to use the machines and why. With time and experience I have come to learn that most of the people that go to the gym don’t know what they are doing.

I didn’t like the group classes, so I hired a trainer and asked for a personal training combining weights, machines and bodyweight exercises. After a year, I decided to change of gym: the atmosphere and the team are really important when you choose a place to exercise. I needed a place with people more focused on their training.

In the new gym I spend more than a year before going to Canada I have learned so many things about fitness. Good and bad. How you can start with good intentions and end up hurting yourself for a « perfect » reflection in the mirror. How you are supposed to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but you don’t balance your life, focus only on the gym, your look.

In this gym I have met incredible athletes, with knowledge, work ethic. I have also met frauds, with empty heads because there were too busy taking care of their biceps to read a book once in a while. I met people, trainers and members, who would spend all their money, time and energy on drugs to look a certain way but then would say « I am healthy, I eat vegetables and chicken and only drink water ». I met men and women scarifying their health in the medium and long term to win a trophy.

It’s interesting to look back because it was not a long time ago, but fitness and bodybuilding had already reached an incredible impact on the population, and not only my generation.

Nowadays it is a huge industry, making millions per year and everybody as a reason to go to the gym, even the people that would laugh about it a couple of years ago.

Of course, there are all kinds of people with different tastes for sport, but I am pretty sure almost the majority of our generation has at least, tried it.

Aaaah fitness, the shaped oiled bodies, sponsored products and “athletes” getting out of nowhere with incredible one or two-year body transformation. I felt deep in the trend: kicking my butt in the gym, trying to calculate my macros (even if it was counter-productive for my anorexia recovery), following fitness gurus, going to the Paris Body Fitness Salon, surrounding myself with gym people who could only talk about their diet and their previous/current/next workout …

I got even so passionate and interested that I studied at home, got a personal trainer certification and when I arrived in Montreal, I worked as a personal trainer in a gym for a couple of months.

I can now say after almost three years of practice that my approach is really different.

When I first went to a gym it was to recover anorexia, try to gain some muscle and mobility back. Then, slowly, with the results coming in, I started again to be obsessed with my body image but this time, I wanted to look like a fitness model, without fat and a shredded body all year around. Well, not everybody can do that, in a couple of a month and for a life time period.

First of all, it was really dangerous for me according to my previous and not so old illness. And second, it is very stupid to put all your energy JUST in the way you look.

I started to feel depress again because despite my efforts, my body wasn’t like I wanted too.

Getting obsessed with fitness took me in the same place I had left when I was anorexic: unhappy with my body, obsessed with my body image, dysmorphia syndrome and with social and family life damages. Because let’s be honest, whatever your passion is, fitness or cars or specific collections, it is very time-confusing of the rest of your life.

You focus all your time, energy and money on this passion and it has consequences. With fitness it can quickly kill your social life: you don’t eat out, don’t drink alcohol, have to sleep at least 8 hours and you have to spend countless hours in the gym instead of doing anything else.

It took me a couple of months to understand that what I wanted of my body AND the life I wanted wasn’t compatible 100 %.

Yes, I want to have the most beautiful body as I can. But I also want to spend time stimulating my mind with expositions, movies, readings, expositions. I want to spend time with my close friends and the members of my family and don’t say no to a restaurant once in a while for the scale. Once the persons you love are gone, you can’t do anything to have them back.