When it comes to health and fitness, most men have the right idea: They drink protein shakes, hit the weights room and tend to choose steak over cake. We’re not saying you need to start eating meat twice daily, but the male mentality can help you become leaner, fitter and healthier.
Find your motivation
As any gym bunny will tell you, motivation and exercise go hand in hand. It’s simple, really: The more motivated you are, the harder you’ll work, and the better the results you’ll achieve. In other words, you get what you put in. So, to reach your health and fitness goals, you need something to motivate you. This is where men and women differ. Most ladies are motivated by the scales or by the thought of bikini season. We tie up our laces and head to the gym to lose weight and tone up. While these are great motivators, they mostly focus on how we are going to look. Men, on the other hand, concentrate on performance and how they feel. Next time you’re at the gym, eavesdrop on the guys doing weights. Are they talking about how much weight they’ve lost? Or are they bragging about how much they “lift”? Nine times out of 10, it will be the latter. Instead of measuring your success by how many kilos you lose, measure it by your improvements in fitness. If you have that mindset, you’ll reach your goals quicker — and without agonising over how much you weigh. In fact, banish your scales to storage for a few weeks!
Pump up the protein
Back in the caveman days, women were seen as “nurturers” and mothers and, as such, had to be softer and cuddlier than the men. In line with that, women are biologically wired to crave sugar, and those cravings have continued to this day. We dare you to find a woman who doesn’t like chocolate! As the “hunters”, men had to be speedy, sated and full of energy at all times, which is why — you guessed it — they crave protein like meats. The fact is, protein helps us burn fat and create muscle, while sugar just makes us fat. Even though we can’t change our genetic makeup, we can take a tip from the boys and start eating more protein. By eating more meat, chicken, fish and lentils, you’ll be giving your body the helping hand it needs to make you healthier, fitter and leaner. So the question is: well done or medium rare?
Downplay the cardio
Think about it: You rarely see men smashing it out on the treadmill or cross trainer for hours. They just don’t spend lots of time doing cardio. Where you will see them is in the weights room — and this a move that you should steal. Basically, your body won’t change shape from doing cardio like running or cycling. Yes, you’ll burn calories, but it won’t help you with toning up. That’s where weights come in. If you want a lovely, lean body, you need to build your muscle mass through lifting weights (like barbells or dumbbells), or doing resistance work (like on the machines). The best way to start a weights workout is to ease into it. Cut down your cardio sessions to two a week — bye, boring treadmills! — and add two or three weights sessions. The machines are easy and pump classes are awesome. You could even try holding weights when you’re doing squats and lunges. And if you’re feeling intimidated, here’s your motivation: Weights will give you better posture, a stronger core (read: abs), a faster metabolism and an all-round tighter, firmer bod. Hop to it!
Just do it
Women are social creatures. We love to talk, gossip and get the lowdown on our friends. While that’s nothing to apologise for, there is a time and a place for all that chit chat — and it’s not the gym! At boot camps and gyms around the world, trainers are trying to deal with women whinging and taking long, chatty water breaks. In comparison, the guys just get on with it. They have a “just do it” attitude — when they show up to the gym, they are there to work hard and then leave feeling satisfied that they’ve made the most of their time. If you take a look around, you’ll also notice that men tend to work out alone. They set their goals for the day — maybe they’re focusing on abs, or arms — and then they get the job done. No overthinking. No analysing. No complaining. Just do it. If you could whinge for Australia, don’t worry — it can be fixed. Adopt the boys’ attitude and we bet your workouts will become not only fun, but more effective.
Plan like a man
It’s true: Getting to the gym is half the battle. But what you do once you’re there is what really counts. Many women tend to do routine workouts: They arrive at the gym, stretch, hit the treadmill for 20 minutes, do 30 seconds on each weights machine, do a few sit ups, and then cool down. They go through the motions. Sure, they’re burning calories and working on those wobbly bits, but there isn’t much of a structure. It’s interesting — as mothers, wives, girlfriends and daughters, women are wired to be organised. We’re the masters of to-do lists and meal plans. But for some reason, we don’t like planning our exercise; we just show up. On the other hand, men tend to hit the gym thinking “today is leg day” or “today I’m working on my biceps.” They decide in advance what areas of their body they will work on and, as a result, their workouts are more focused and efficient. Why not try this next week? When you’re noting down tasks and appointments in your diary, pencil in your workouts too.
Men are experts at making sport a part of their everyday life. It all starts at a young age: Boys kick footballs, dig up sandboxes and do anything that will make their clothes dirty and their mums tear their hair out; girls play inside with dolls. Boys tend to be more physically active than girls and it’s a habit that follows many of them as they become men. That’s why, when it comes to exercise, men are experts at mixing it up. The lesson? Training doesn’t have to be boring. Take a leaf out of the guys’ book and sign up for paddleboarding, surfing or skateboarding lessons. You’ll get a killer workout, plus it’s so fun, you won’t even realise you’re working out. It’s a win-win!