A new year and a new you is right around the corner. Before long, bathing suite time will be back and that thing isn’t going to wear itself. There is no better time than now to get a plan together to start shedding that excess baggage.
Successful weight loss is just not possible without a winning plan. The first place this needs to start is in your head. If you want to make big changes to your body and how you look and feel, you need to first develop a belief that you can indeed do it. Positive psychology goes a long way on the road to a successful transformation.
Next, you need to stay optimistic throughout your journey and surround yourself with people who are supportive of you. Hanging out with your beer drinking, greasy chicken wing eating friends may sound fun, but do it too often and it may slow or stop any hopes you have of winning a new body.
There is no better time than now to be like Nike and “just do it”. When starting this new journey, keep your focus and incorporate these top strategies outlined below and you will start torching those excess pounds in no time and feel better than ever before doing it.
Pump Up The Protein
Losing weight is largely in part due to calories in vs. calories out. We want this weight to come from fat not muscle though, so it is important that we consume an adequate amount of protein through the day to prevent the body from catabolizing muscle and in fact doing the opposite, building it!
If we are going to reduce caloric intake, do not restrict in this department. Resistance training with proper nutrition and protein intake builds muscle and muscle burns calories and increases your BMR.
Protein also helps to keep you fuller for a longer period of time and it takes the body more energy to digest protein in comparison to fat or carbohydrates. This can all help to lower the glycemic load of the meal as well.
Suggestion: Shoot for .7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 180lbs, eat 25-30 grams with each of your 6 portion controlled meals throughout the day from lean sources like turkey, eggs, chicken, LEAN cuts of beef and protein shakes.
Eat Smart, Not Less
In an attempt to lose weight, many attempt extreme restrictions with their food in one way or another and often deprive themselves of proper nutrition during the day and this sometimes leads to extreme hunger and eating too much of the wrong stuff at night. This also doesn’t lead to success long term and many cave in before long.
Suggestion: When you drastically under-consume calories, you will be left hungry and looking for both the quickest and most dense sources of energy you can find: sugar and fat. Scratch this strategy and eat smart during the day. Consume enough total calories to keep you satisfied, and you’ll prevent raids to your pantry. Eat a source of lean protein closer to bedtime, your body will use that more effectively for recovery as you sleep.
Always being under stress leads to your body constantly pumping out the hormone cortisol. Cortisol stimulates your appetite and increases your blood sugar to fuel your body in times of stress.
In addition to this, cortisol also stimulates the storage of fat while preventing its breakdown. Stress also contributes to anxiety, cardiovascular issues and depression often making it easier to turn to food for comfort and as a way to cope.
Suggestion: Find ways to relax and distress each day. Yoga, exercise, meditation or music are often helpful. Incorporate some B-vitamins into your supplement regime and consider the herb rhodiola or 5-htp as well.
Write It Down As You Swallow It Down
A little bit here and a little cookie there often go forgotten if we try and remember it all at the end of the day. Even worse, if we never put in black and white what we are eating we often don’t realize how out of balance our nutrition can be.
When I request new clients to do a food journal, it is often eye opening to them and it also makes them much more aware of what they are eating. You need to know where you are at to adjust and stay on the right track towards your goals.
Suggestion: Utilize one of many apps like the one at MyFitnessPal. It will help you count and input all your macros from the day as it happens. You can also track total grams of sugar, fiber and how full you feel with each meal on the side as well to add info to the picture.
Create a Winning Environment
If you want to lose fat and keep it off, you must surround yourself with positive people and a positive environment. You can start this by making the less-healthy foods unavailable or inconvenient and keeping healthy options within reach and easy.
As my clients know, it is a great idea to pre cook and prepare several meals to start your week before it happens. This way, you will have a plan and be able to stick to it. Clean out your cupboards and fridge and toss the bad stuff or at least put it up high so it is out of direct site.
Suggestion: If Sunday is your “off” day, then take an hour and cook up a bunch of food to provide healthy options and multiple, properly balanced meals and store them in Tupperware bowls in your fridge and freezer. As the week goes by, you will have these options to grab at, they will be fast and convenient and you will stay on track.
Make Weight Training Priority #1, Cardio 2nd
Strength training and cardio may or may not be performed on the same day. If you choose to do them on the same day, then most likely strength training should be performed first for 4 main reasons:
1) Strength training is generally more intense than the endurance portion, requiring more energy from anaerobic sources (carbs) that are more available early in the workout. This plays a big role in how much intensity and effort you will put into the resistance training thus determining how the body will adapt and respond.
2) Primary use of carbohydrate as energy during initial weight training promotes greater use of calories from fat during cardio. When glycogen stores are depleted during strength training, which are preferred 1st source of energy, fat (reserve fuel) is utilized during cardio.
3) Certain exercises (squat, shoulder press, etc.) require support and stabilization of the spine, so fatigue of the back, abdomen, and lower extremity muscles prior to these exercises may put one at greater risk for injury.
4) Success with strength training requires you to stimulate the body with enough overload (intensity). Without enough glycogen (carbs in muscle) in the muscles this is difficult to achieve. So, if one performs cardio before and depletes these important energy stores, it will hinder ones ability to reach or maintain the adequate stimulus necessary to elicit muscle strength / gains… More muscle = Higher metabolism J
Suggestion: Weights 1st, cardio 2nd
Make Sure Your Hormones Are in Balance
There are so many important hormones like insulin, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, etc. that play so many roles to keep us alive and well balanced.
Hormones are like messengers in your body that give orders to your cells to do particular things. They are chemicals that are manufactured by our glands and released into the bloodstream, sort of holding a sign up with a type of cell’s name on it (like a limo driver at the airport waiting to pick up a client.)
Most cells ignore the hormone, but when it comes across the right one its chemical “message” is read and the cell starts to do what it has been told. This message could be a lot of different things, but generally it is meant to keep the body functioning and in balance. Too much of a certain hormone can have results such as insulin scooping up a big rush of glucose in the system (from eating a lot of sugar) and storing it as fat and therefore having us “craving” more after our blood sugar levels drop.
Too much estrogen can contribute to a man holding onto too much fat, which then “steals” testosterone leading to less muscle and therefore a lower metabolism which then means more weight gain and the vicious cycle goes round and round.
Suggestion: If you have signs and symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, get some blood work done and address things where need be. Here is a good place to get help: Youth-Rx
Take Advantage of Good Supplements
There is an endless amount of supplements out on the market these days, some good and most bad. Once you have a strong foundation with a proper exercise regime and nutrition program in place, you can look to incorporate a few complimentary supplements to help you accelerate your progress.
Suggestion: Given you don’t have any health concerns or restrictions, you can utilize a highly rated “fat burner”. A good quality multi vitamin each day and drinking plenty of water and some green tea each day are a good idea too.
Cheers to a new you,
Roger Bowman, CPT