Health and fitness isn’t about getting in ‘great shape’ at a specific time and then falling back to where you began…
Nope, being fit and healthy is about making exercise, focused eating and routine a part of your lifestyle in a way which you enjoy, and which works for you and the people around you who matter.
Luckily there are basic and proven principles that hold true, and in this article I will be providing these and illustrating how you can utilise them to lose fat, gain energy and be at your best.
1. THE “WHY” PRINCIPLE:
Simply wanting something isn’t enough – you need a “why”!
We all have “wants”, and for many people losing fat is one of their “wants”.
Wanting to lose fat, get in that lower dress size, having six pack abs…..it’s not enough!
They are good – but they are not enough to see you smash the exercises, eat the clean diet and be committed over a long period of time!
Humans rarely work like that.
To successfully attain fat loss (and any other goals) you need to know “why” losing fat matters to you.
Everyone has different “why’s”, whether it’s to…
…get the attention of that girl/guy you like
…avoid suffering obesity related challenges that other family members have had to face
…have a fabulous set of abs on the beach
…to have the energy, confidence and drive to progress in your career
…to be able to have a game of football with your kids
The “WHY” that matters to YOU is what matters!
I had a chat with one of my clients a while back about this, it went down the lines of…
Me: “You wrote in the Lifestyle Questionnaire that you want to lose fat and get rid of your beer belly. That’s good, but why do you want to lose fat and lose the beer belly?”
Client: “Well, I’m going on holiday in 4 months with a large group of friends. We’ll spend a lot of time on the beach and I always hate taking my shirt off – many of my friends are in much better shape. I want them to see me and be impressed”.
Me: “Superb, that’s great – but can I ask WHY you want to impress them?”
Client: “This might sound silly – but there’s a girl I like – Sarah*, and she’s going to be there. I’ve known and liked her for years but have never had the confidence to chat much with her. I know that if I felt good about myself I’d have the confidence to talk to her more – and who knows!”
Now, that is his “why”, and I’m certainly not saying that being fit and healthy is the perfect way to impressive people, but we found out from that chat what his goal was!
It wasn’t fat loss – the goal was how he would feel once he lost the fat – get it?
Your “why” is what keeps you going through the hard times – the intense workouts and the junk food cravings.
The bigger the “why” to you, the more likely you are to succeed!
2. THE CALORIE RESTRICTION PRINCIPLE:
Fat loss occurs when you are in a sustained calorie deficit – simple as that.
This is determined by energy in, the calories consumed via food and drink, and energy out – calories burned through daily energy needs and exercise.
So the basic principle is, if you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming, you should be losing fat.
Whilst this is actually a slight oversimplification due to the complexity of the human body, it is the foundation of EVERY fat loss diet!
The Keto Diet: The super low carb element of the diet see’s your daily calorie intake being very low!
The Atkins Diet: Likewise, the low carb and very limited eating options means calories are again limited!
Intermittent Fasting: By limiting the amount of time you can eat each day, it makes overeating very unlikely and calorie deficit likely!
Whilst this is just a small selection of diets available, they all work on the calorie deficit principle if aimed at fat loss.
3. THE SUSTAINABILITY PRINCIPLE:
There are lot’s of crash diets which actually do work – but they are temporary fixes rather than long-term solutions.
The internet is awash with “lose 20 pounds in 20 days” , “6 Week: Belly Fat Eliminator Programme” and the likes…
The problem is they are not sustainable ways of losing fat.
However, that’s not to say they are totally irrelevant or of no use.
It goes back to the “why”, and if you are a physique competitor or high level sportsman or woman looking to get in the best shape for a specific time or event then they can certainly be of use.
In fact, I create extreme eating and exercise plans for myself when competing – but only for a relatively short time period.
For most people, such extremity alongside everyday life is doable for maybe 1, 2, 4 or even 8 weeks – and then the wheels come off, big time!
If your aim is to lose fat, and keep it off, then you need a long-term plan – one that works for you.
A good approach is to review the behaviours that got you fat in the first place, and then make adjustments based on this.
It might be appealing when you see the hottest celebrity following a new diet and promising that if you do the same you get what they’ve got – but the reality isn’t like that!
This more often than not results in the type of yo-yo dieting that sees you gain and lose the same weight year after year.
We want a long-term solution – not a yearly battle!
4. THE PRINCIPLE OF IMPERFECTION:
No person is perfect – and likewise no diet or exercise plan is either!
So what do I mean!?
Well, no person will be 100% perfect with their eating, their exercise, their mindset, their sleeping 24/7.
The key is that when the inevitable ‘fail’ occurs, we get straight back on the horse, and don’t continue to sabotage the great work we have already put in.
If you get a flat tyre on your car you don’t slash the other three as well!
And now onto diet…
Whether it’s the Keto, Intermittent Fasting, Mediterranean, Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, Ice Cream Diet (not real – I don’t think!)…they all work on the principle of eating low calories, lots of protein and vegetables – but none are perfect.
Too often people buy into the marketing and feel there is only one way they can achieve what they want – that’s b*llshit!
If 90% of intermittent fasting, Mediterranean or Paleo works for you, use 90% of it and create a solution to fill the void in the other 10%.
Oh, and contact me if you want some help on this!
5. THE PRINCIPLE OF CALORIE TRACKING:
As much as many people don’t want to hear it – at some point you need to track calories for efficient fat loss.
This relates to the principle of calorie restriction I described above.
Counting calories provides you the biggest tool for fat loss…..awareness!
You see, most people believe they’re doing everything right and can’t figure out why they’re not losing the fat they feel they should be.
This is where accurately tracking calories comes in!
The cause may be those 8 beers on a Saturday night, or that dressing you smother your salad with, or those sprinkles you have on your Costa Coffee!
It may not be, but you’ll never know until you start tracking your calories.
This doesn’t need to be all the time – in fact, I do think it is unhealthy for the mind to be tracking them to the exact calorie for a long period of time.
However, on occasion it is needed – whether that’s to get you over a specific plateau or to get in-shape for a photo-shoot or to initially gain a better understanding of the surprising calorie differences between many ‘similar’ foods.