Fitness and health has never been so popular, in recent years we have quickly transitioned from been the social outcasts and referred to as ‘picky eaters’ and ‘health crazed’ to the ‘new normal’ nowadays most restaurants show the calorie content of everything from their pepperoni pizza to the house red, everything is quantified so that even when people ‘cheat’ on their diet they can do so in a calculated way. Maybe even an IIFYM (if it fits your macros) style diet?
What used to be such a niche market is now embraced by almost every high street store and supermarket, I think you would genuinely struggle to go shopping without seeing a selection of sports supplements and gym clothing, even my local corner store now sells protein bars and RTD’s (ready to drink protein shakes)
People start training for a variety of reasons, sometimes they do so because they are not happy with how they look, sometimes they want to just feel healthier or get stronger.No matter what the reason is everyone has their own individual goes and reasons for going through those gym doors for the first time and if you’re anything like my girlfriend, most people who join the gym go through those doors with a bag full of gym clothes including the best branded sportswear and gym shorts already committed before they even sign up.
I never started training because it was ‘cool’ or ‘the in thing’ i did it because i enjoy it, even to this day i would choose a baggy t-shirt or hoodie over a gym vest, I train not for the gratification of others but to better myself, I have never honestly felt a feeling like training and dieting. A feeling where whatever you do makes physical changes to your physique on an almost daily basis, yes this is a marathon and not a sprint but still little changes can go a long way. Ask anyone who has trained keto/low carb for a few days and then had a re feed and noticed how their muscles soak up all the nutrient rich carbs and make them feel and look so rounded and full in every muscle belly. That feeling where your gym shorts still fit on the waist but you are now having to opt for a size larger or face cutting your favourite gym shorts as they no longer fit on your quads.
That feeling of having a gym vest or gym t-shirt purchased and then having to return it because it is now too small, it is changes like this that we notice the most. As we see our bodies everyday, the smaller changes are not as noticeable, you may not notice you have lost fat or gained muscle until a friend or family member who you have not seen for weeks compliments you on how you look.
This however is not why I love fitness, but the increased influence of peoples views and lifestyles has put more money into this industry, not just for gym clothing suppliers, gyms and supplements either, but for research. The reason I love fitness is because unlike most hobbies, you can never know enough and for certain, you can never know everything. Theories and methods are constantly adapting, constantly evolving. Until the other day i had always thought aspartame was a bad artificial sweetener especially whilst dieting, however i recently read it can actually aid dieting, more so than water.
The saying ‘evolve or be extinct’ definitely comes to mind when thinking about the fitness industry, I strongly believe that you have to be open to new ideas in all aspects of life also however more so in the fitness industry, from supplementation to gym clothing/accessories you should never think that one way is the best until you try it for yourself.
You may be wondering.. gym clothes? how does that matter what brand of gym clothing i wear? It is not the brand or colour that i am talking about, but the style and cut of gym clothing that you wear which is important. I used to use gym shorts when i trained legs for years and thought nothing of it but then after reading an article on a famous bodybuilding website i read the advantages of using compression shorts instead and from the first session that i made the change i noticed that i was not cramping in my hamstrings and also that my muscles warmed up and contracted much better with the extra heat and support created by the compression shorts. the only downside i guess is that i could not see my quadriceps flaring like i could with my usual gym shorts when i was doing leg extensions.
Little changes like this really makes a big difference for me overall, also when dieting and doing cardio i like to wear thicker gym clothes such as bodybuilding rag tops or gym hoodies as the extra heat helps me sweat it out a big more and i feel i have a much better workout as well as burning off extra calories.
Something I also love is that even when I begun training as a skinny teen, never in the gym was their any resentment or animosity when i was using equipment that bigger and more experienced people were or even if i were doing exercises incorrectly. a lot of people, mainly those who have never even been into a gym have that same perception of gyms, especially those that are not commercial gyms. That they are very dirty and full of aggressive men wearing stringer vests and tight gym shorts, who grunt and swear. This I can tell you cannot be further from the truth, when I first started training, I used to have these thoughts in my head as they had been drilled into me years prior by other people however as time progressed and I begun going to the gym more and more, these big and scary looking men turned out to be some of the calmest and most helpful people I ever met.
Always offering to spot me where i was struggling and show me new exercises. One guy even gave me a bunch of free gym clothing he got that did not fit him, even though he could of returned them and exchanged them for a different size, he gave me a bag full for free which included stringer vests, gym shorts and some rag tops. This was the first time i ever wore gym clothes as previously looking in magazines and without the internet I never really had access to the cheap workout clothes from brands like bigredapparel.co.uk the only brands i saw were the mainstream brands which only offered products like £40 gym vests and £60 gym shorts.
When I started wearing my gym clothes however, I felt better, I felt more ‘fit for purpose’ and ready to train, like some people feel ready to go to work when they dress in their work attire, when i had my gym clothes on, i was ready for war.
Before this, I never saw the appeal of wearing stringer vests and short gym shorts however when I wore them for myself, I could quickly see the appeal, as i trained, especially looking at the mirror I could see exactly how and where the muscles were contracting and when the muscle did not contract as expected, i altered my form and positioning which then corrected this in the mirror as to how i looked.
Even 6 years in now, I still enjoy training as much as I did when i first started however i have learned a lot since and do not think that i will ever stop learning. Instead of going for the high street over marketed supplements, i now go for mainly raw ingredients provided by bulk/white label protein sellers which offer the same, if not better quality products for a fraction of the price. I also find myself using far less products, when i first started training i was using maybe 10 different products but as i learned more and i narrowed them down, i noticed my physique was still improving at the same rate however my bank balance was now much more improved also which then over time translated to me spending more money on sportswear and other gym clothes. What are my staple supplements you may ask?
I also make sure i am stocked up on whey protein, casein, omega 3’s, creatine monohydrate multi-vits & mineral complex and the occasional pre-workout for the times when I am really struggling. I am not a morning person so I like to use the whey protein in the morning with oats which provides me with a nice balance of protein and oats to start of my day with some fast protein and some long acting energy, then post workout i like to use whey protein again with some creatine monohydrate, i usually put these into a sandwich bag and put it in my bag alongside my gym clothes (not had an accident yet - touch wood) and consume this shake immediately after training as their is a key anabolic window within 30-45minutes of training. Then before bed I like to take my casein, vits and omega-3’s.
Casein for me has been a great addition, though in the past i have used things like eggs where the fats do help slow down the digestion so keep you fuller for longer however i was still waking up in the middle of the night really hungry and having to get up to have a shake or make some food. However since starting to supplement with casein i can now sleep through the night without a problem, even if i do wake up to go to the toilet, i can quickly get back off to sleep as i still feel full and satisfied.
I have also recently started supplementing with l-tryptophan to help me rest and also improve my mood, though i have only been using this for a few weeks now so it is still too early to tell how much of a difference this is making however i will be sure to post a full article on this once i have a better feel of this supplement. I will say that so far though i am noticing that i feel less anxious whilst supplementing with this product. when i was searching to see how much tryptophan i should use on google i was having trouble finding a consistent dose. people were stating anywhere from 100mg to 2000mg+ per serving so I am trying different dosages to see where I find the most benefits without the negatives which can be associated with the product. According to the Natural Medicine Journal, the recommended usage to help depression is around 1g to 6g per day. As with most supplements, they also recommend that it is taken multiple times per day in order to keep levels of tryptophan more consistent in the blood. Though tryptophan in itself is just an amino acid, it caused the body to produce more serotonin and too much of this can lead to serotonin syndrome and symptoms of this can include; confusion, diarrhoea, fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, muscle aches and more so it is every important to take caution with the use of this supplement.
Even when I started using Tryptophan, this was something else I enjoyed and again another reason as to why I love fitness. Health and fitness relates to a lot of health issues/benefits and learning more about things like this not only help to better yourself but also others around you also.
You will probably of had that feeling at least a few times since you started training where somebody comes up to you and asks you what type of supplements you use or where you buy your gym clothes from, not so much because they want to have the same gym shorts in the same pattern as you, but maybe as they think having the same gym shorts may make their legs look more like yours. This aspiration towards you and them wanting to hear your thoughts and opinions on certain foods and supplements can be comforting and rewarding as you can then teach them what you have learned from your research and personal experience and people also do with you too.
For this reason, I also really enjoy reading bodybuilding and fitness forums as they are filled with like minded people who are always willing to talk to you about anything that you have on your mind. That can be the problem sometimes with fitness, you may think a certain diet or workout is a really good idea however it is not until you relay it to someone else that you realise how floored it it. However then you have the ability to make the needed adjustments to make it better. Also these forums also usually have great sponsors on them also who post periodic deals on sportswear, supplements and much more which is also another great added bonus!