Why is it that people who do fad diets frequently gain most, if not all of the weight back or never lose it in the first place? Far too often it’s the complexity of the dietary plan that plagues the next would be fitness enthusiast from the start. It’s the common misconception that weight loss strategies MUST be planned out to the exact rep in the gym or carb in your diet to see results. The reality of becoming what people consider “Fit” is far easier and more straightforward than you could imagine. It starts with self reflection, visualization, then long term habit forming and finally, arriving at a place where your self identity aligns with the word fitness. Here are some tips for losing weight and then keeping it off or building muscle and keeping it on. No matter the fitness goal, these principles will help you.
1. Acknowledge Your Current Image and any Bad Habits
Before you can make any changes you must openly acknowledge where you’re at regarding your diet, physique, and level of activity per day. You’re reading through this article because there is enough room for improvement that you searched online for a solution.
What are the bad (feel good) habits that you have in your life right now? It could be as simple as eating at that great teriyaki restaurant across the street from the office 3 times a week, socially drinking on the weekends, or eating “quick” foods such as fast food because you lead a busy life.
How many active hobbies do you do on a regular basis? Maybe you enjoy hiking or pilates, but how often are you currently able to find the time to do them? Do you go to the gym? If so, do you go consistently?
These are the sorts of questions that you want to dig deep on. Discover the reality of how active your current life is and be honest with yourself about what you’re eating. Only then can you take begin to visualize the change and final goal.
2. Visualize the Ideal You
Goal setting is a great habit and should be a staple of your progress, but the inherent problem with goals and fitness is that a goal implies an end date. Stress that in order to achieve truly sustainable fitness goals you need to be leading a wholesome healthy lifestyle that becomes you and is part of your identity. Until you make this connection with identity, long term results will not come.
To begin moving towards this new you, visualize the living persona of your goal. How does that person look physically and what do they do actively on a daily basis? It’s rarely the case where people don’t know what to do become fit a lead a healthy lifestyle. More often, it’s taking action and then creating long term repetition that is the true issue.
3. Starting With Healthy Eating
No matter the goal and visualized lifestyle, the vast majority of progress will come from what you eat. The question then typically becomes what should I eat and what diet should I get on to help me lose the weight? As implied in the previous sections it is very likely that you know what healthy eating looks like, but simply don’t execute. “Diet” is another buzz word that sets people up for failure because it typically implies a finite amount of time. With long term habit forming in mind we should think of any change we make to our overall diet as an indefinite lifestyle change.
Given that long term implementation is our core focus it is best to gravitate toward a nutritional plan that you can truthfully continue on for years to come. I typically recommend eating healthy wholesome food about 80% of the time and the other 20% can be going out to dinner on the weekend or having that glass of wine on a Friday. Remember, that slow and steady wins the race.
4. What are Macronutrients and Why Are They the Important?
While the goal of this post is not to give you a detailed diet plan, it is important to have a high level understanding of macronutrients if you’re serious about creating a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. There are 3 core macronutrients including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Think of these as three different ways of giving your body energy. Based on your desired fitness goal you will want to stack your macros accordingly. When top level athletes are doing meal prep they will look to this strategy to ensure they get the fitness outcome they are looking for.
For example, if you are trying to lose weight you would stay away from the carbohydrate side of macro’s and lean heavier on proteins and heathy fats such as mono-saturated fats found in vegetable oils. This might result in a meal containing double the amount of veggies by weight than carbs and a more lean protein such as chicken or turkey.
Once you understand the general idea of macros you can proactively apply this to anything you’re consuming. For example, when you go out to eat if you’re pushing toward weight loss you would stay away from the free bread or chips at the beginning of the meal and gravitate toward their lower carb options. This self knowledge is what will afford you the ability to effortlessly work toward a physique and fitness goal, turning that eating habit into a lifestyle.
If you must order out for most of your meals due to lack of time to cook there are plenty of meal prep delivery services that can do this for you. Another option is learning to meal prep yourself, in which you would make all of your meals for the week at the same time and store them accordingly.
5. Being Active is Important!
Being active is important for many reasons beyond the fact that it burns calories. Activity will help stimulate your metabolism and give you more energy. Think of any friends you have that are considered fit. To no surprise they likely lead a very active lifestyle that goes beyond the gym or daily workout routine. And believe me that activity spawns activity, it truly snowballs. This will help increase your metabolism and thereby helping you to stay lean and fit in the long run.
6. Prioritize the Gym.
It is shockingly easy to find a reason why there isn’t time for the gym on any given day. It’s something that is important yes, but can very easily have no urgency. For this reason you must make working out on a regular basis an absolute priority. While what you eat plays one of the largest roles in what you look like and how you feel, working out regularly to replace fat with lean muscle has benefits that cannot be replicated through any other means.
Bring it all Together
Ultimately, everyone must make a decision at some point to change on the inside before they can expect something long term. No matter your current level of fitness make the decision right now that fitness is going to be a large part of your life and your self identity. Also, there is no need to complicate things with crazy diets and fads that will only last a few weeks. Start eating lean wholesome meals, cut back on eating out and become more active. Make the decision to be the healthiest version of your current self.