What makes the difference between someone who simply works out and someone who sees real change in their body and lifestyle? Years of training have given me the opportunity to work with persons of all capacities and lifestyles, so I can report from experience anyone can reach the goals they set for themselves, if they are willing to get real and do what’s necessary.
You may be aware the first step to change is the decision to change. The second step is to make a realistic plan and the final step is to take action. What follows are the steps people just like you have taken to lose weight and look and feel better than ever. Maybe you’ve incorporated several of these habits into your life and are already reaping the benefits. Maybe you need to get on track and start at number one. In either case, let’s get to work!
1. White Out
White sugar, white flour and white pasta are all processed and practically nutrient-free substitutes for real food. When cereals and grains are processed, the germ and bran of the kernel are stripped away along with most of the fiber, vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates in this form leave our bodies wanting for nourishment and hungry for more, which leads to overeating, which leads to obesity, diabetes, hypertension and a variety of other ailments. Refined foods also have a high-glycemic index, which causes a rapid rise in blood sugar and the body stores the extra calories as fat because it cannot convert them into energy quickly enough.
2. Be A Control Freak
Most successful losers (of weight, that is) plan what they are going to eat before they get hungry. Planning to eat a protein-rich breakfast and packing a nutritious lunch and snacks is a great way to control what you put into your mouth. Lean proteins, vegetables, fruit, whole grains and low-fat dairy products are nutritious and satisfying, leaving you less likely to find yourself rummaging through your desk drawers looking for change for the vending machine.
3. Get Off Your Duff
Losing weight is a numbers game of burning more energy, or calories, than you ingest. While your body requires a certain amount of energy each day to simply function, this number varies depending on your age, activity level and body composition. The rate at which you use energy can be negatively affected by stress, years of yo-yo dieting and poor nutrition. However, you positively affect this number with exercise. Strength training is essential to build muscle, which burns more calories even when you are not exercising. Cardiovascular exercise burns calories and raises your metabolism so extra calories are used even when you finish.
4. Don’t Be A Girlie Man
Working out is more than going through the motions of three sets of bench followed by some crunches, a few curls and a leisurely stroll on the treadmill. Sure, you’ll burn a few calories, maybe you’ll even break a sweat, but real results will elude you. Remember, intensity matters! Feel the weight in your hand, focus on the muscles you are using and be a stickler about proper form for maximum results. Studies show athletes can increase the neural response of muscle fibers simply by focusing on the muscles being used. This means more calories are burned and you get a more effective workout.
5. Sleep On It
No matter how many double shot, no whip mochas you down every day, you need between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep each night to be at your best. You probably didn’t sleep that much last night. You need to sleep more.
People who don’t get enough sleep experience hormonal fluctuations, which increase appetite. Also, muscles are repaired and human growth hormone is released during deep sleep. In other words, if you are not sleeping enough, you are eating more than you should and not getting all you can from your workouts.
6. Water, Water Everywhere
No, I’m not talking about the kind of water, which is endorsed by athletes, taste-enhanced with sugar and sells for three dollars a bottle. Real water, and plenty of it is essential to losing weight and being healthy. Other liquids just don’t suffice. Soda has added sugars and phosphorous, which leeches calcium from your bones, juice has a high calorie count and coffee is a diuretic, which robs your body of water. Eight glasses of water a day (that’s right, 64 ounces) keeps your metabolism revved, helps remove waste from your body and keeps you feeling full longer. Try drinking a glass before every meal or keep a 20 ounce bottle with you throughout the day and see how easy it can be to get all the water your body craves.
7. Let’s Get Real
So, you’ve given up refined carbs, you’ve increased the lean protein and vegetables in your diet and you are committed to six days of exercise every week. However, you still don’t look anything like this month’s Men’s Health guy or Cosmo cover girl. The reality is you may never look like a 22-year-old model, who works out several hours a day and has all of her pictures photo-shopped to perfection. Focus on the positive. You are in the middle of a revolution you are leading. How do you feel? How do your clothes fit? Have you run into an old friend, who noticed a change? Do you not feel winded when you climb a flight of stairs anymore? Lasting change is a process, which doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen with time and consistent action.